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The Birth of Indology as an Islamic Science

Islamic Philosophy, Theology


and Science
texts and studies

Edited by

Hans Daiber
Anna Akasoy
Emilie Savage-Smith

volume 97

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/ipts


The Birth of Indology as an
Islamic Science
Al-Brns Treatise on Yoga Psychology

By

Mario Kozah

leiden | boston
Front cover: Yogini. India, Uttar Pradesh or Madya Period, tenth to eleventh century. Buff sandstone, h. 34
in., w. 17.25 in., d. 9.75 in. San Antonio Museum of Art, purchased with the John and Karen McFarlin Fund
and the Asian Art Challenge Fund, 90.92. Photography by Peggy Tenison. Courtesy of the San Antonio
Museum of Art.
Back cover: Bilingual Ghaznavid dirham struck in the name of Mamd of Ghazna in 1028 with Arabic and
Sanskrit on obverse and reverse respectively. See Kozah, 2004, p. 269. Photography by Prof. Ali A. Minai from
his private collection and with his kind permission.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Kozah, Mario, 1976-


Title: The birth of indology as an Islamic science : Al-Biruni's treatise on yoga psychology / by Mario Kozah.
Description: Boston : Brill, 2015. | Series: Islamic philosophy, theology, and science: text and studies, ISSN
0169-8729 ; v. 97 | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2015032417| ISBN 9789004290297 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9789004305540 (e-book)
Subjects: LCSH: Biruni, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, 973?-1048. Kitab Batanjal al-Hindi fi al-khalas
min al-irtibak. | Patanjali. Yogasutra. | YogaHistory. | IndiaCivilizationStudy and teachingIslamic
Empire. | Indian philosophy.
Classification: LCC B132.Y6 K655 2015 | DDC 181/.452dc23
LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2015032417

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To my parents


Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction 1
1 Al-Brn: A Brief Summary of His Life and Major Works 7

1 Al-Brn: Prologues and Method 11


1 Al-Asila wal-Ajwiba 11
2 Al-thr l-bqiya an l-qurn l-khliya 12
3 Al-Qnn al-masd fil-haya wal-nujm 18
4 Kitb taqq m lil-Hind 23
5 Al-Brn, Hindu Cosmology, and Atomism 32

2 Hindu Metaphysics According to the Hind 34


1 Mediaeval Arabic Texts on Hinduism and Their Sources 34
2 Al-Brns Sanskrit Sources: Kitb Snk and Kitb Btanjal 37
3 The Differentiation of Kitb Snk and Kitb Btanjal 41
4 Theology from Kitb Btanjal to the Hind 43
5 Passage 1: The Theological Interface between Kitb Btanjal and the
Yoga-Stra of Patajali 45
6 Passage 2: The Theological Interface between Kitb Btanjal and the
Citations from the Book Referred to as gt 55
7 Passage 3: Kitb Snk and the Discussion of Human and Divine
Action in the Hind 65
8 Kitb Snk as Conclusion to the Comparative Triptych 71

3 Al-Nafs: the Soul in Kitb Btanjal 73


1 Introduction 73
2 From Kitb Btanjal to the Hind 74
3 The Soul and Spiritual Liberation 75
4 Al-Brn and Western Scholarship 76
5 The Yoga-Stra and the Psychology of Kitb Btanjal 80

4 Kitb Btanjal: the Preface and Sections iiii 85


1 The Tripartite Preface of Kitb Btanjal 85
2 Section i: Concentration of the Heart (Mind) 96
3 Section ii: Guidance towards Praxis 106
4 Section iii: The Manner of Recompense 118
5 Conclusion 120
viii contents

5 Section iv of Kitb Btanjal: Liberation and Unification, a Reading 125


1 Introduction 125
2 Section iv and the Yoga-Stra of Patajali: Liberation, the Soul and
the Intellect 126
3 The Soul, Matter and Unification 132
4 Liberation: The Intellect, Intellected and Intellector 139
5 Ibn Sns Treatment of the Soul and Intellect in Awl al-Nafs and
His De Anima 146
6 Conclusion: Kitb Btanjal, Knowledge and Language 149

6 Al-Nafs: the Soul in the Hind 151


1 Introduction 151
2 The Body/Soul Relationship in the Hind 153
3 Chapter Seven of the Hind: On the Manner of Liberation from the
World and the Description of the Path That Leads to It 154
4 The Part of Worship 155
5 Islamic Characteristics Attributed to the Hindu God 157
6 Liberation, Divine Unification, and Knowledge 159
7 The Nature of Liberation According to Kitb Btanjal and Kitb
Snk 167
8 Conclusion: Liberation, Metempsychosis and al-Brns Islamic
Reading of Hinduism 184

Conclusion 189

Appendix. Translation of Section iv of Kitb Btanjal 195


Glossary of Terms 206
Bibliography 209
Index of Subjects 221
Index of Modern Authors 224
Index of Names 225
Index of Ancient and Mediaeval Sources 227
Acknowledgements

I would like to sincerely thank James Montgomery for carefully guiding my


early thinking and writing about al-Brn during my time at the University
of Cambridge and Tarif Khalidi for his support throughout our many years
together as colleagues at the American University of Beirut and his insistence
that I should never give up on this project. While working on this book I was
fortunate enough to meet the brilliant Bilal Orfali to whom I am deeply grateful
for wisely suggesting that I publish with Brill. I would like to thank Adam
Silverstein for his very valuable comments and steady stream of advice. The
books title was formulated one balmy evening on the shores of the Indian
Ocean with the masterful assistance of Abdulrahim Abu-Husayn to whom I
am greatly appreciative. I wish to thank Tara Zend for so expertly helping me
to see the wood despite the innumerable trees and for spurring me to strip
down the text in order to make it more reader-friendly. Thanks are also due
to Hans Daiber, Anna Akasoy and Emilie Savage-Smith for accepting this book
in the Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Science series, and for their important
comments and corrections, especially by Anna Akasoy, and to Teddi Dols and
Kathy van Vliet for supervising the production of the volume. A special thank
you is due to John Moffatt sj for reading through the whole manuscript one last
time at short notice. My biggest debt of thanks is owed to my beloved Rachelle,
Karl, and Kristina, for their patience and love, and to my dear parents Nolvi and
Khalil without whose unfaltering faith in me and fathomless support I would
never have been able to reach this point.
Introduction

Ab Rayn Muammad b. Amad al-Brn (d. ca. 1048) is one of the most
famous scientists and polymaths in the history of Islamic civilization. Although
his works rival those of his illustrious contemporaries in their depth and sophis-
tication, there has been little scholarly writing about him in the West rela-
tive to his importance. This trend is beginning to change with the appearance
in recent years of monographs in which scholars have mostly presented all-
encompassing readings of al-Brns writings following a pattern of interpre-
tation established by earlier scholarship. A number of encyclopaedic entries
have also been published recently in addition to the republication of most of
al-Brns works. These monographs have either tended towards a life and
works approach to the study of al-Brn in the search for holistic interpre-
tations of his methodology or have focused on his substantial contributions to
the scientific disciplines of astronomy, geography, mineralogy, pharmacology
and mathematics.
In contrast, this book investigates al-Brns unique contribution to the
study of comparative religion in his major work on India, Kitb taqq m lil-
Hind min maqla maqbla fil-aql aw mardhla1 (henceforth referred to as the
Hind), by considering what will be explained in terms of an Islamisation of
Hinduism. Written in Arabic, the Hind may very well be the very first systema-
tisation of Indian beliefs into one Indian religion,2 as al-Brn calls it, pre-
ceding by almost 900 years the definitions of Hinduism by nineteenth-century
European Orientalists.
Al-Brns explanation of Hinduism or the Indian religion, draws princi-
pally on his interpretation of Yoga psychology articulated in Kitb Btanjal, his
exceptional Arabic translation which interprets the Yoga-Stra of Patajali.3 Al-
Brns reading of Hinduism and the Yoga-Stra relies on common denomina-

1 Alberunis India: An Account of the Religion, Philosophy, Literature, Chronology, Astronomy,


Customs, Laws, and Astrology of India. Edward Sachau (ed.) Arabic in 1 vol., English in 2 vols.
London: Trbner & Co, 1887/1888. [Arabic edition reprinted in Hyderabad, 1958. Reprinted by
F. Sezgin. Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History of Arabic Science, 1993]. All consequent
references and citations of the Arabic will be taken from the Hyderabad edition.
2 al-nilatu l-hindiyyatu (Hind, p. 38, l. 5).
3 Al-Brns bersetzung des Yoga-Stra des Patajali, ed. H. Ritter, in Oriens 9 (2), Dec. 31,
pp. 165200; trans. S. Pines and T. Gelblum Al-Brns Arabic Version of Patajalis Yogastra,
in bsoas 29 (2), 1966, pp. 302325; 40 (3), 1977, pp. 522549; 46 (2), 1983, pp. 258304; 52 (2),
1989, pp. 265305.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_002


2 introduction

tors he identifies as fundamental, most prominently the idea of a shibboleth4


or banner5 that unifies belief, and the concept of a Holy Book that repre-
sents a principal point of reference. In the case of Hinduism al-Brn identifies
metempsychosis as its banner and the Yoga-Stra of Patajali as being its Holy
Book. This comparative method was intended to make Hinduism more com-
prehensible to the Muslim reader:

Just as the declaration of the Article of Faith is the emblem of Muslim


belief, Trinitarianism the sign of Christianity and the institution of the
Sabbath that of Judaism, so is metempsychosis the banner of the Indian
religion, such that he who does not profess it does not belong to it and is
not considered to be a member.6

The book investigates al-Brns use of Yoga psychology, according to his Ara-
bic translation of Patajalis work on the Yoga-Stra, to support his principal
statement that transmigration of the souls is the banner of the Hinduism. Ulti-
mately, we will identify the significance of al-Brns approach to Hinduism
and the possible purpose that underlies this exceptionally early effort to define
and systematize Hindu beliefs.
With these considerations in mind this book conducts a close textual anal-
ysis of the methodology that underpins al-Brns interpretation of Hindu
beliefs and focuses on al-Brns contribution to comparative religion being
one of the earliest Muslim scientific studies in the field of Indology. As such
it fills a significant gap in scholarship on al-Brn and represents an impor-
tant step forward in making one central aspect of this exceptional work on
India from the Mediaeval Islamic period more accessible. The book begins by
introducing al-Brn through an overview of his life and works to set the bio-
bibliographical context for the Hind. Particular attention will be paid to the
secondary literature analysing the period during which he travelled in India
and interacted with Hindu pundits, or had indirect contact with Indian culture
through its literature. The main thrust of the book will investigate al-Brns
definition of Hindu beliefs as based on his premise that transmigration of
the souls is the distinguishing sign of the Indian religion. Al-Brns posi-

4 Shibboleth is Edward Sachaus translation of shir (Hind, p. 38, l. 4).


5 alam (Hind, p. 38, l. 5).
6 kam anna l-shahdata bikalimati l-ikhli shiru mni l-muslimna wal-tathltha almatu
l-narniyyati wal-isbta almatu l-yahdiyyati kadhlika l-tansukha alamu l-nilati l-
hindiyyati faman lam yantailhu lam yakun minh wa lam yuadd min jumlatih (Hind, p. 38,
l. 4).
introduction 3

tion relies principally on his interpretation of Yoga psychology as articulated


in Kitb Btanjal. After analysing the psychology of Kitb Btanjal as a read-
ing rather than a pure translation of the Yoga-Stra, al-Brns extensive use of
Kitb Btanjal in the Hind will be explored. A comparative textual study will
posit that al-Brns thesis depends upon his careful interpretation of Kitb
Btanjal which he considers, at the outset of the Hind, to bear the fundamen-
tals of Hindu beliefs. The comparative study will conclude with an illustrative
investigation of al-Brns description of metempsychosis. The general conclu-
sion highlights the importance of al-Brns unique contribution in the his-
tory of comparative religion. The conclusion also explores the reasoning that
underlies al-Brns Indological systematisation of Hindu beliefs to produce
his vision of a unified religion. Ultimately, the important research of the nine-
teenth century European Orientalist Edward Sachau is considered to try to dis-
cern whether his foundational and still unique English translation of the Hind
may have inspired what he and other Europeans came to define as Hinduism
in the light of al-Brns pioneering attempt at a comprehensive classification
of Hindu beliefs.
Chapter One, entitled Al-Brn: Prologues and Method, analyses the pro-
logues to three of al-Brns works, the Hind, Qnn,7 and thr,8 to arrive
at a more accurate appreciation of his general methodology and philosophy.
To achieve such an appreciation a number of points not previously addressed
in the literature will be investigated throughout. Each prologue will be placed
in a historical, political, and intellectual context to ensure the interpretation
draws into consideration questions of patronage, dynastic rivalry, and personal
advancement. The chief work to be used as a basis for the formation of the intel-
lectual context is the Asila,9 which is a correspondence between al-Brn and
his lifelong intellectual rival Ab Al al-usayn Ibn Sn (d. 1037). The Asila
is crucial because of its formative influence on al-Brns career and, more
importantly, its role as an index of the main issues in debate at the time, the
nature of such debates, and their usefulness for delineating differing schools of
thought. Finally, al-Brns methodology will be gleaned from an appreciation
and, where necessary, a reinterpretation of his language. This will ensure that

7 Al-Qnn al-Masd. Introduction by Syed Hasan Barani, 3 vols. Hyderabad: 19541956.


8 Al-thr al-Bqiya an al-Qurn al-Khliya. Eduard Sachau (ed.). Leipzig: 1878. The Chronology
of Ancient Nations, trans. E. Sachau. London, 1879. Reprinted by F. Sezgin, Frankfurt, 1993.
9 Al-Brn and Ibn Sn, al-Asila wal-ajwiba, eds. S.H. Nasr and M. Mohaghegh. Tehran, 1973.
Reprinted in Kuala Lumpur, 1995. ibn SinaAl-Biruni correspondence, in Islam & Science,
Trans. Rafik Berjak and Muzaffar Iqbal, Jun 2003; Dec 2003; Summer 2004; Winter 2004;
Summer 2005; Winter 2005; Winter 2006; Summer 2007.
4 introduction

our understanding of his methodology and its development derives directly


from the immediate texts to be considered and their historic-intellectual con-
text.
Chapter Two, Hindu Metaphysics According to the Hind, introduces the
reader to the Hind, and considers its sources, structure, and the methodological
conclusions which may be drawn from it. The Hind epitomises al-Brns study
of Hindu culture and civilisation. Based on a wide-ranging examination of San-
skrit scientific and religious sources, many of which are no longer extant,10 as
well as conversations with Indian physicians who were held captive at the court
of his patron, Sultan Mamd of Ghazna, and with Hindu pundits he met while
accompanying Sultan Mamd on military campaigns in northern India. The
Hind was completed in 1030 shortly after Mamds death. The twelve years
al-Brn spent as court astrologer under Mamd afforded him ample oppor-
tunity to gather information about India and acquire knowledge of Sanskrit
and regional Indian dialects which he then used to understand and translate
texts on Hindu philosophy and science. The preface and first ten chapters of
the Hind centre almost exclusively on religious, psychological, and metaphys-
ical subjects that present predominantly doctrinal discussions on Hindu (and
other) beliefs in God, creation, metempsychosis, salvation and rituals of wor-
ship. However, the vast bulk of this work, thirty-seven of the eighty chapters,
is a systematic appreciation and demonstration of Indian science that include:
grammar, metrology, chrestomathy, astrology and astronomy, cosmology and
cosmography, chronology and mathematics. The final fifteen chapters set out
Hindu ritual practices, principally initiation and funerary ceremonies, obliga-
tory sacrifices and dietary rules, together with fasting, pilgrimage and festival
observances.
Reference will be made to articles which use this structure to argue that
al-Brn derived his information from a limited number of sources and that
he wittingly shaped the organization and content of the Hind according to
a preconceived view of Hindu culture and belief. The format of this chapter
on the Hind incorporates three key points. First, by examining the sources
and method which al-Brn draws on and employs in the Hind, a clearer
understanding of his reflection of Hindu theology and psychology emerges.
Second, the theology and psychology of the Hind are to be found in the first
twelve chapters of the book and it is here and upon these chosen subjects that
analysis will be concentrated. For one, the areas of theology and psychology

10 Cf. al-Brns Risla f fihrist kutub Muammad b. Zakariyy al-Rz. P. Kraus (ed.). Paris,
1936.
introduction 5

in the Hind present an informative case study detailing how al-Brn used
primary Sanskrit and secondary Arabic sources in his critical and analytical
explication of Hinduism. Thirdly, insight into al-Brns Arabic translations of
Sanskrit texts,11 as they are manipulated in the first twelve chapters of the Hind,
not only reveals a continuity of purpose and method, from the translations to
an explication and further development of citations from them in the Hind, but
also discloses a unified interpretation and vision by al-Brn of the subjects of
Hindu psychology and theology. Thus, al-Brn presents a reading of Hinduism
based on his belief that the transmigration of the soul is the characterising sign
of the Indian religion as he calls it.
Chapters Three, Four, and Five comprise in the main an analysis of the
tripartite preface in Kitb Btanjal followed by its four sections with particu-
lar attention given to the nature and development of the presentation of the
soul, al-nafs, as it is perceived in al-Brns interpretation of the literary cul-
ture of Hindu metaphysical speculation and, specifically, as it is articulated in
the Yoga-Stra of Patajali. Building on arguments made in earlier academic
articles,12 this analysis suggests that there is a continuum of methodological
perspective between Kitb Btanjal and the Hind and that Kitb Btanjal is
not merely a bold effort to communicate the essentials of yogic ascesis to a
Muslim readership, but marks the beginning of an interpretation and evalua-
tion of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali which finds its final form in the Hind. Thus,
the initial ten chapters of the Hind offer far more than a distillation and an
extension of an Arabic translation of the Yoga-Stra or a magisterial overview
of Hindu notions whose subject matter is simply equivalent to that broached in
Islamic speculative theology. These three chapters lead to the concluding argu-
ment that Kitb Btanjal and the Hind seem not only to maintain a continuum
of methodological perspective but also comprise a representation of the Yoga-
Stra which closely reflects the Stras and fully engages with both unidentified
and recognized commentaries. Such a representation also illuminates the cul-
tural and intellectual Ghaznavid court context in which these works arose. The
main argument of these three chapters, then, is that the purpose of such a rep-
resentation is ultimately realized in the Hind where al-Brns interpretation
of Hindu psychology is used specifically to support his reading of Hinduism.

11 Mainly Kitb Btanjal but also the no longer extant Kitb Snk and gt whose subject
matter is psychological, metaphysical and theological.
12 For example, the excellent studies by Rosenthal, F., Al-Biruni Between Greece and India,
and Lawrence, B.B., Al-Brns Approach to the Comparative Study of Indian Culture, in
Biruni Symposium, (1976).
6 introduction

Chapter Six, Al-Nafs: the Soul in the Hind, has a twofold purpose: the
first is to explore the final stage in the evolving continuum of methodolog-
ical interpretation from the translation of Kitb Btanjal, to the distillation
and summation of the Indian religion accomplished in the Hind. In paral-
lel fashion, the case study on the nature of the soul, begun with the Arabic
translation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali also finds its natural conclusion in
the early chapters of the Hind. The basic issues argued in this case study will
be tackled by focusing on the text of the Hind and on a number of points
in particular. These are: establishing a continuity of argument, interpreta-
tion and analysis from Kitb Btanjal and the Smkhya text, or Kitb Snk
as it is referred to by al-Brn, to those chapters which discuss the Hindu
understanding of the soul in the Hind; then exploring the process by which
particular concepts of the soul as described in Sanskrit sources referred to
or quoted through translation and oral information, are incorporated in the
text of the Hind. Next, corroborating certain terminological interpretations
in Kitb Btanjal will be achieved by comparing the use of these terms and
their connotations in the text of the Hind. Finally, those arguments relat-
ing to al-Brns definition of Hinduism which depend on an interpretation
of specific passages found in Kitb Btanjal will be consolidated by compar-
ing these passages as they are quoted in the more analytical context of the
Hind.
The second purpose in Chapter Six will be to investigate al-Brns interpre-
tation of Hindu belief in metempsychosis as he presents it in the fifth chapter
of the Hind in the light of his defining statement that this is the characterizing
feature of Hinduism. It will be argued that the concept of metempsychosis is
not only represented as the chief distinguishing feature of the Indian religion,
as al-Brn refers to it, but also forms the final refinement in the exploration of
the content and nature of Hindu psychology begun with the translation of San-
skrit texts and particularly Kitb Btanjal. Interestingly, the tripartite preface
to Kitb Btanjal cites belief in metempsychosis as the banner religious doc-
trine and, by direct association, the framework for the psychology of the book
suggesting this overarching theme from the outset:

This is a people whose discourse about their religion is never bare of


topics concerning reincarnation and the misfortunes of incarnation and
unification and generation not according to the principle of birth.13

13 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 15.


introduction 7

Building on previous analyses, the discussion on the nature of the soul in


the Hind in this chapter will identify the wider concept of metempsychosis
as the common denominator in the various psychological details cited and
as the theoretical mould within which the previously quoted passages from
sources and the diverse technical and terminological descriptions were pre-
sented. This argument not only consolidates the notion of a continuity and
synthesis of methodology and psychology in the process from Kitb Btan-
jal to the Hind, but also establishes, by this proposed single unifying concept,
far greater philosophical and religious significance within the intellectual con-
temporary context of the vibrant Muslim psychological debate. What is of pri-
mary interest is the approach towards the concept of metempsychosis among
a number of Muslim authors that illustrate a surprising diversity of opinion.
An objection may be raised regarding the rationale of comparing the discus-
sion of metempsychosis in the Hind, being, overtly a description of a doctrine
within the Hindu belief system, with the concept of metempsychosis in Muslim
psychological writing such as in the De Anima of Ibn Sns Shif. This would
be the case if the text of the Hind were composed purely of translations and
direct quotations from Sanskrit with no analytical or explanatory input what-
soever. However, not only is the subject explained in a manner which facilitates
understanding for a Muslim readership by means of, for example, illuminating
comparisons with Sufism and the classical Greek tradition but also, and more
significantly, the terminology of contemporary Arabic philosophical debate is
consciously used throughout. This usage, as earlier argued, suggests a moti-
vation beyond the simple presentation of a non-Islamic doctrine. The Hind
engages with and expounds on the subject of metempsychosis within what may
be viewed as an Islamising sphere of intellectual deliberation but without any
self-imposed restrictions given its non-Islamic subject matter. By proceeding
in this fashion, al-Brn renders the accusation of heresy an impossibility and
grants himself a free hand to explore unscathed the Hinds controversial con-
cept, in all its facets, within the definition of Hinduism which al-Brn provides
in reference to what he refers to as the Indian religion.

1 Al-Brn: A Brief Summary of His Life and Major Works

Al-Brn was born in 973, most probably in Kth, which at that time was
the capital of the city-state of Khwrazm located in the Transoxania region of
Central Asia.14 Although his native language was Khwrazmian this region was

14 See Bosworth, C.E., Brn: Life, in EIran, p. 274; Boilot, D.J., Brn, in ei2.
8 introduction

in no sense provincial given the long years of direct and indirect cultural and
linguistic influence by Persia, India and even China. Thus, from the outset al-
Brn was exposed to a spectrum of influences which shaped his lifelong pas-
sion for closely studying other civilizations and religions. By the tenth century
the region of Transoxania had produced some of the most remarkable figures
in the intellectual history of Islam and in the fields of mathematics, adth,
kalm, and philosophy. The first scholar, Muammad b. Ms al-Khwrazm
(d. ca. 847) is often considered to be the inventor of algebra, although he in fact
developed this and other mathematical operations based on older Indian and
Greek sources which he was most likely first exposed to in Khwrazm. Shortly
afterwards, Muammad b. Isml al-Bukhr (d. 870), compiled what is con-
sidered the most authentic of adth collections, the a Bukhr. No less
eminently, Ab Manr Muammad al-Mturd (d. ca. 944), a famous theolo-
gian and a scholar of Islamic jurisprudence and Quranic exegesis, founded one
of the two foremost schools of Sunn theology, kalm, and became known as
one of the pioneers of Islamic jurisprudence. Finally, two of the most prominent
founding figures of the Arabic philosophical tradition, Ab Nar Muammad
al-Frb (d. 950) and Ab Al al-usayn Ibn Sn (d. 1037), also hail from this
region of Central Asia. Al-Frb was a renowned Muslim scientist and philoso-
pher as well as an accomplished cosmologist, logician, and musician. Through
his treatises he became known among medieval Muslim intellectuals as The
Second Teacher, that is, the successor to Aristotle, The First Teacher. Al-
Brns contemporary Ibn Sn is considered the most famous and influential
polymath of the Islamic Golden Age.
This is the intellectual milieu in which al-Brn was born and educated and
where he spent the first 22 years of his life from 973995 under the rule of the
l-i Irq Khwrazm-shhs. As for his name, much speculation has gone into
explaining his nisba or ascription al-Brn. The most convincing explanations
remain those provided by the Encyclopedia Iranica and Encyclopedia of Islam
both of which explain the nisba as relating to the fact that al-Brn was born
of an Iranian family on the outskirts (brn) of Kth.15 Very little biographical
information can be verified from this early period of al-Brns life, however, it
would seem that he received his early education under a teacher by the name
of Ab Nar Manr b. Al b. Irq whom he mentions in the thr,16 one of
al-Brns earlier works. In 995 al-Brn fled his home city when his patrons,

15 Ibid.
16 Al-Brn, al-thr l-bqiya an l-qurn l-khliya. E.C. Sachau (ed.). Leipzig, 1878, repr.
Leipzig, 1923, p. 184: ustdh Ab Nar Manr ibn Al ibn Irq mawl Amr al-Muminn.
introduction 9

the ruling dynasty of l-i Irq were defeated at the hands of l-i Mamn
of Jurjniyya, an independent Iranian family. A period of wandering ensued
with al-Brn living at times in Khwrazm and at others in Jurjn, searching
for patronage and permanent residence. At some point during these difficult
years (995998) he initiated a correspondence with his rival Ibn Sn who was
most probably living in Jurjniyya and in the service of the l-i Mamn or the
Mamnids from ca. 9971012. It is unclear whether an actual meeting between
the two took place although such a hypothetical meeting would most probably
have occurred in one of the Mamnid courts. This correspondence, referred
to as al-Asila wal-Ajwiba,17 is significant because it reveals the scientific and
philosophical context in which al-Brn thought and worked, as will be dis-
cussed in the next chapter. It is in 998, most likely in Jurjn, that al-Brn found
in the Ziyrid Shams al-Mal Qbs b. Wushmagr (d. 1012/13) his next signifi-
cant patron.
Under the apparently generous patronage of this fourth ruler of the Ziyrid
dynasty of abaristn and Jurjn, al-Brn wrote his thr, probably in 1000,
which is dedicated to his new patron and remains one of his greatest schol-
arly achievements with its broad scope of subject matter, especially its sections
on astronomy, history, and religions. In 1004 al-Brn returned to Jurjniyya,
the new capital of Khwrazm, to serve the Mamnids whose favour he had
gained under the patronage of the Khwrazm-shhs Ab l-asan Al (997
1008/9) and Ab l-Abbs al-Mamn b. Mamn (d. 1017). During this period
al-Brn wrote a number of scientific works including his Tadd18 and also
served the Mamnid court in diplomatic and political posts. Following the
betrayal and death of al-Mamn in 1017, Mamd of Ghazna (9711030), the
ruler of the Ghaznavid Empire, invaded Khwrazm under the pretext of aveng-
ing his brother-in-laws murder. With this annexation and the effective demise
of the Mamnids, al-Brn found himself, along with other prominent schol-
ars (including Ibn Sn), adjusting to a new dynastic sphere of influence. While
Ibn Sn and other scholars went west, al-Brn hesitated and ultimately came
under Mamds patronage. Whether this was a decision which he took or
was taken for him remains unclear and his relationship with his new patron
has been the subject of much speculation. What is certainly the case, how-
ever, is that from 1017 to the date of his death in 1048 al-Brn found himself
mostly in Ghazna, the capital of the Ghaznavid empire, in the courts and under

17 Al-Brn and Ibn Sn al-Asila wal-ajwiba. S.H. Nasr and M. Mohaghegh (eds.). Tehran,
1973. Reprinted in Kuala Lumpur, 1995.
18 Kitb tadd nihyat l-amkin li-ta masft l-maskin. P.G. Bulgakov (ed.). Cairo, 1962.
Reprinted by F. Sezgin, Frankfurt, 1992.
10 introduction

the patronage of three Ghaznavid sultans: Mamd (10171030), Masd (1031


1041), and Mawdd (10411048), and that under their auspices he produced his
greatest works. Under Mamd he wrote his magnum opus on India, the Hind19
(ca. 1030), and his landmark astronomical work the Qnn20 (ca. 1035) was writ-
ten under Mamds son and successor Masd b. Mamd. During the final
years of his life under Masds son Mawdd b. Masd he completed his two
great mineralogical and pharmacological works: al-Jamhir21 (after 1041) and
al-aydana22 (ca. 1048), the last known work he wrote before his death.
Despite the clear progress and increased sophistication of al-Brn scholar-
ship on the Hind in recent years there still exists a common and inherited seam
of a priori assumptions. Thus the sophistication does not necessarily reflect a
greater sensitivity to the text of the Hind, the methodology that sustains it, or
the historical and intellectual circumstances that shape it, but instead reflects
a refinement of earlier assumptions. Indeed, at no stage in the chronology of
al-Brn scholarship is a sustained attempt made to understand the Hind in
the light of the frontier dynasty under which it was produced, the personal and
philosophical motives for its conception, and the socio-cultural implications
of a work on Hinduism whose methodology is openly dispassionate despite
its seemingly controversial, even heretical, subject matter. Rather, al-Brns
approach to Hindu thought is largely misconstrued in that it is either perceived
to be imperfect or limited by the sources consulted. Such views ignore the real
possibility of a deliberate reading of the Indian philosophical corpus and, by
extension, the contributions of Indian science in order for it to be integrated
as a comprehensible, if not compatible, cosmology into the worldview of the
Muslim educated elite. It will be demonstrated that this process of integration
by al-Brn is not so much an Islamisation of Hindu beliefs in the Hind but
more a comparative methodology in which culturally specific categorization is
not selective or constrictive of its subject matter.

19 Kitb taqq m lil-Hind min maqla maqbla fil-aql aw mardhla. E. Sachau (ed.).
London, 1887. Reprinted in Hyderabad, 1958. Reprinted by F. Sezgin, Frankfurt, 1993.
20 al-Qnn l-masd fl-haya wal-nujm. S.H. Barani (ed.). Hyderabad, 19541956.
21 Kitb l-jamhir f marifat l-jawhir. F. Krenkow (ed.). Hyderabad, 1936. Reprinted by
F. Sezgin, Frankfurt, 2001.
22 Kitb l-aydana fil-ibb. Hakim Muhammad Said (ed.). Karachi, 1973.
chapter 1

Al-Brn: Prologues and Method

1 Al-Asila wal-Ajwiba

The Asila is the correspondence that al-Brn conducted with Ibn Sn dur-
ing al-Brns stay in the Smnid capital of Bukhara after having secured the
patronage of the Smnid emir, Manr ii b. N ii (997999). The Asila con-
sists of ten questions posed by al-Brn regarding the Arabic translation of
Aristotles De Caelo, al-Sam wal-lam, plus eight other questions that relate
to a range of contentions within the Peripatetic, mashsh, School of natural
philosophy and that present a critical challenge to Ibn Sn, then the most emi-
nent representative of this school. Ibn Sn answers each of the questions posed
with varying success. The Asila presents the scientific and philosophical con-
text in which al-Brn thought and worked. It exposes, firstly, several of the
most problematic scientific issues of the time and their metaphysical connota-
tions, as well as the existence of an anti-Peripatetic current within the contem-
porary Islamic intellectual framework. The Peripatetic School dominated the
philosophical tradition in Islamic civilisation and coloured much of the lan-
guage of the great Muslim scientists, including al-Brn. The Asila, however,
presents al-Brns logical criticism of Peripatetic natural philosophy by ques-
tioning the basis of its reasoning and its science in a rigorous exchange of mutu-
ally comprehensible terminology. Whether al-Brns logical criticism has an
philosophical source derived, for example, from the Pythagorean-Hermetic
heritage of Antiquity or from his introduction to Indian science, philosophy
and cosmological doctrines can only be gleaned from examining the contents
of his writings and the nuances in the comparisons he makes, an analysis that
has thus far only been attempted to a limited extent in the secondary litera-
ture.
The importance of the Asila lies not only in that it marks a key point in
Islamic intellectual history, natural philosophy and the sciences but also in its
foregrounding a defining moment at the outset of al-Brns career. By com-
peting against the most famous intellectual rival of his time and choosing to
differ on any number of a priori theories which form the basis of Aristotelian
physics, al-Brn signalled his independence from the Peripatetic School and
simultaneously established a tabula rasa from which to explore the empirical
sciences and the development of ideas from new sources. The language used to
express such ideas, though coloured by Aristotles dominant influence, belongs

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_003


12 chapter 1

neither to al-Brn nor Ibn Sn,1 but rather derives from the lexicon of the
Abbasid translators and the falsifa written (specifically) to serve as a com-
mon language for philosophical dialectic. The same philosophical language is,
therefore, used to give accounts of very different philosophies and this is, at
times, markedly the case in each of al-Brns prefaces that we shall be exam-
ining. Interestingly, the intellectual rivalry between al-Brn and Ibn Sn is
paralleled by the religio-dynastic rivalries of the courts to which they belonged.
Both the Ziyrids and the Ghaznavids in whose rulers al-Brn found patron-
age were the implacable rivals of the Buyids in whose courts Ibn Sn found
favour.

2 Al-thr l-bqiya an l-qurn l-khliya

Al-Brn composed the thr in 1000 at the age of twenty-seven and dedi-
cated it to his patron and master Shams al-Mal Qbs b. Wushmagr, the
Ziyrid ruler of Jurjn. Its wide-ranging subject matter includes astronomical,
historical, and religious sections concerning the pre-Islamic Arabs, Egyptians,
Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Indians. The thr is based on a broad read-
ing of Arabic and other sources as well as oral information gathered to detail
the historical and scientific chronology of these civilisations. Al-Brn must
have been aware of the dynastic struggles between the Ziyrids of Jurjn and
Tabaristn, who were Sunnis and allies of the anaf Smnids, and the pow-
erful Shiite Buyid dynasty in the West.
Al-Brn demonstrates his loyalty to his patron, Qbs b. Wushmagr, by
highlighting the rise of his dynasty in the fourth chapter of the thr, which
contains a long criticism of the false claim of the Buyids to descent from
the Sasanian emperor Bahrm Gr alongside praise of the true descent of
Qbs b. Wushmagr from the Sasanian royal house. The eventual outcome
of the military struggle was that the Byid ruler Aud al-Dawla was able to

1 Ibn Sns intellectual relationship with al-Brn can be initially gauged by comparing con-
temporaneously written works. For instance, Ibn Sns encyclopaedia of philosophical sci-
ences, al-il wal-mal, was written in Bukhara at about the same time al-Brn was
composing his first major work, the thr or Chronology, in 1000. Secondly, while Ibn Sn
was busy completing his encyclopaedia of philosophy, Kitb l-Inf, al-Brn was collating
material for his Hind, a work, it is argued, of cultural philosophy. Finally, while Ibn Sn was
conducting his astronomical research and observation at Isfahan, al-Brn was compiling his
magnum opus on astronomy, the Qnn. Cf. Barani, S.H., Ibn Sn and Alberuni, a study in
similarities and contrasts. Avicenna Commemoration Volume. Calcutta, 1956, pp. 314.
al-brn: prologues and method 13

wrest Kirmn from nominal Smnid overlordship and to prevail most of the
time in Tabaristn and Jurjn against Qbs b. Wushmagr. After his death in
10111012 the Ziyrid dynasty became a virtual tributary to the Ghaznavids. This
represents al-Brns first encounter with the dynasty in whose court he was to
spend the final three decades of his life under Mamd, Masd, Mawdd, and
their successors, dying some time after 1050, perhaps during the sultanate of
Abd al-Rashd.
The preface to the thr may be divided into four parts: a doxology, a dis-
cussion of the Imms divinely ordained role in society perfectly exemplified
in Muammad, the attribution of this role to Qbs b. Wushmagr or Shams
al-Mal, as he is referred to here, and a description of al-Brns methodology
in this work. In this way al-Brn emphasises the interrelatedness of this hier-
archy with the natural extension of his patrons exalted position underscored
through the authors dependency on him.
The doxology begins with a pious expression of monotheism that describes
God as above things that are like and unlike each other.2 Muammad then
follows as the chosen one,3 and the perfect man.4 This concept of the perfect
man forms a divinely ordained standard at the outset of al-Brns preface
against which all men are measured. The final section of the doxology asks
for an invocation of blessings upon the family of the Prophet who are held
to be Imms of right-guidance and truth.5 The idea of the Truth, al-aqq,
features very strongly in al-Brns thinking and varies in nuance according
to the religious or scientific context of its use. By presenting this concept as an
inherent quality of the Imm, al-Brn underlines the religious dimension of
its meaning, but without making it exclusively religious or the sole property of
the Imm, as later passages will reveal.
An accurate description of al-Brns understanding of divine knowledge,
providence, prophethood, the role of the Imm in society, and the political
philosophy in the thr can only be successfully achieved if one is familiar with
the formative intellectual rivalry of the Asila between al-Brn and Ibn Sna.
In the Metaphysics of his Shif Ibn Sn states that the world emanates
from God as a consequence of His self-knowledge. In contrast, al-Brn con-
ceives of God as transcendent,6 with the being of particular existents depen-
dent on Him, even though they are not vessels of His Omniscience. For Ibn

2 al-mutal ani l-addi wal-ashbhi (thr, p. 1, l. 3).


3 al-muaf (ibid.).
4 khayru l-khalqi (ibid.).
5 aimmatu l-hud wal-aqqi (thr, p. 1, l. 4).
6 thr, p. 1, l. 3.
14 chapter 1

Sn political philosophy rests on the theory of prophethood and revelation,


which means that the law revealed through prophets consists of the truths of
theoretical and practical philosophy in a language that is understandable to
the majority of humanity.7 The implication, therefore, is that, in the hierarchy
of existents, the prophet is ranked below the philosopher just as revelation is a
necessary simplification of the abstract universal concept. Al-Brns contrast-
ing reference to an Imm rather than a prophet in the preface to the thr is
not a promotion of an Immate per se which would be at variance with Ziyrid
Sunnism.8 The emphasis that al-Brn places on the role of the Imm is not an
attempt to undermine the supremacy of the law-revealing prophet; rather, it is
to complement the prophets position and to demonstrate that Gods knowl-
edge of the good order9 necessarily expresses itself in His providence,10 in this
case, through the gift of an Imm.
By positing the presence of an Imm in every age,11 al-Brn lessens the
significance of Ibn Sns argument that prophets appear on the historical
scene very infrequently. Instead, al-Brn contends that God sends a just Imm
for every period.12 This counters the practical implications Ibn Sn proposes
regarding the setting down of institutions and traditions to ensure the contin-
uance of the good order once the prophet is gone.
For Ibn Sn, the infrequent appearance of prophets has a metaphysical
explanation that relates to the rare bodily reception of a prophetic soul. Never-
theless, he argues for a still higher stage that is the direct reception of intelligi-
bles from the Active Intellect. In contrast, in the preface to the thr al-Brn
places Shams al-Mal at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of existents,13 compara-
ble in character to the Prophet14 being Gods chosen deputy15 and shadow on
earth. Ibn Sn considers the perfect man to be one who combines speculative

7 Encyclopaedia Iranica, Avicenna: Section iv, Metaphysics.


8 This is not to deny the possibility of Isml influences, active in the tenth century,
upon al-Brns thinking. It is significant that the only Arab author mentioned in the
introduction to the Hind is Ab Yaqb al-Sijistn, the tenth century Isml author,
despite the vast wealth of information about Greek philosophy and other relevant topics
that inform the works of many of al-Brns contemporaries or predecessors.
9 nimu l-lami (thr, p. 1, l. 7).
10 min laifi tadbri llhi tal f malii bariyyatihi wa jalili niamihi al kffati khalqa-
tihi (thr, p. 1, l. 4).
11 zamn (thr, p. 1, l. 5).
12 l yukhall f lamihi zamnan an immin dilin (thr, p. 1, l. 5).
13 faqla subnuhuwa innaka laal khuluqin amin (thr, p. 1, l. 13).
14 wa amaddahu bikhuluqin qad imtanna bimithlihi al nabiyyihi (thr, p. 1, l. 13).
15 al-muaf (thr, p. 1, l. 3).
al-brn: prologues and method 15

wisdom with justice and, thus, attains his prophetic qualities. For al-Brn the
Sufi concept of the perfect man16 is embodied in the person of the divinely sent
and just Imm17 comparable in character and qualities to the Prophet Muam-
mad. Moreover, such an Imm represents man as a microcosmos18 comprising
more qualities than can possibly be imagined.19
The cosmology that underpins this vision has significant bearing on the
metaphysical connotations of al-Brns use of medical terminology and diag-
nostic empiricism in the prefaces to his later works, the Hind and the Qnn.
The continuity and mutual relevance of the three prefaces being analysed
does not necessarily imply a lack of development in other areas of al-Brns
thought. For instance, the differing dynastic polities and character of patron-
age, or lack of it, also need to be taken into consideration in each instance.
The closing remarks of the preface to the thr discuss al-Brns purpose
and methodology. His expressed purpose for writing the thr is threefold.
The first may be described as a response to an intellectual incentive since he
recounts that a learned man20 once asked him about the dating systems21 used
by different nations and the differences22 between them. The adb urges al-
Brn to give the clearest possible explanation23 so it will be useful to the
reader.24 The second purpose takes its impetus from patronage and service.
Having contemplated the difficulty of the task al-Brn states that he drew sup-
port from his benefactor Shams al-Mal.25 Moreover, he says, his position of
service26 to Shams al-Mal encouraged27 al-Brn to compose such a work
and by doing so reaffirm his service to him.28 Although it remains politely
unsaid that the thr is a commissioned work, perhaps out of deference for
Shams al-Mals generosity or to emphasise the impression that it was freely

16 khayru l-khalqi (thr, p. 1, l. 3).


17 immun dilun (thr, p. 1, l. 5).
18 wa laysa lillhi bimustankarin an yajmaa l-lama f widin (thr, p. 1, l. 18).
19 mimm l tauruhu l-awhmu (thr, p. 1, l. 17).
20 aadu l-udabi (thr, p. 2, l. 1).
21 al-tawrkh (ibid.).
22 al-ikhtilf (ibid.).
23 wa qaraa alayya l-ibnata an dhlika bi-awai m yumkinu l-sablu ilayhi (thr, p. 2,
l. 4).
24 att taqruba min fahmi l-niri fhi (ibid.).
25 taayyadtu bi-uluwwi dawlati mawln waliyyu l-niami Shamsu l-mal (thr, p. 2,
l. 7).
26 libsu l-khidmati (thr, p. 2, l. 9).
27 jarraan (ibid.).
28 kay yatajaddada khidmat lahu (thr, p. 2, l. 10).
16 chapter 1

and willingly written, it is quietly apparent that al-Brns position of service


implicitly requires that he promote the Ziyrid dynasty and its ruler by com-
posing a scientific work. The third purpose for writing the thr is a literary
one expressing the writers desire for immortality through the legacy of his
works. Al-Brn hopes that the memory and splendour of his service to Shams
al-Mal will remain through the ages.29
Al-Brn next approaches the subject of his methodology by arguing that
the best way to explain the various dating systems is through knowledge of
the traditions of former nations.30 This is because the akhbr mostly consist of
information that comes from these nations themselves and bear the remnants
of their customs and institutes.31 Al-Brn, therefore, upholds the principle
of adopting the information of those who have a written tradition32 against
that of seeking proof through inference and reason by analogy33 based on
what is witnessed by the senses,34 whether as ear or eye-witness.35 It is this
written tradition that is the basis upon which al-Brn will build his accurate
description of former nations.36 Verification of this written tradition is to be
achieved by comparing and contrasting the information received.37
Al-Brn believes this verification process to be the best method of achiev-
ing the task at hand38 despite the difficulties it presents and effort that it
requires.39 This is not to say, however, that the akhbr are infallible, for he
admits that numerous truths and untruths are to be found in them40 so that a
compromise must be made in his method, namely, that that which is possible
and not disproved by other evidence should be treated as true.41 The prag-
matism of al-Brns methodology as exampled in this compromise is further
qualified by a transparency that he promotes in his writing to guide those who

29 yabq l dhikruh wa sharafuh turthan fil-aqbi al marri l-duhri wa muyyi l-aqbi


(thr, p. 2, l. 10).
30 marifatu akhbri l-umami l-slifati (thr, p. 2, l. 13).
31 aktharuh awlun anhum wa rusmun bqiyatun min rusmihim wa nawmsihim
(thr, p. 2, l. 14).
32 taqld (thr, p. 2, l. 15).
33 min jihati l-istidlli bil-maqlti wal-qiysi (ibid.).
34 bim yushhadu mina l-massti (ibid.).
35 in bisamin wa in biiynin (thr, p. 2, l. 9).
36 tayru m hum fhi ussan yubn alayhi badahu (thr, p. 2, l. 16).
37 qiysu aqwlihim wa rihim f ithbti dhlika baih bi-bain (thr, p. 2, l. 17).
38 naylu l-malbi (thr, p. 2, l. 21).
39 al-juhdu l-jahdi (ibid.).
40 likathrati l-abli llat tadkhulu jumala l-akhbri wal-adthi (thr, p. 3, l. 1).
41 al-khabaru l-aqqu (thr, p. 3, l. 3).
al-brn: prologues and method 17

wish to develop the subject with knowledge that was previously unavailable to
him.42 This aim is achieved in two ways, the first is to take from the most recent
sources and proceed gradually to the former ones and to move from what is best
known to that which is less known.43 Second, to gather the akhbr from those
who have reported them, to correct them as much as possible, and to leave the
rest as prima facie, or literal, so as to be of assistance to those who wish to fur-
ther develop a given subject.44
In addition to elaborating on his methodology for the use of al-akhbr in
constructing accurate descriptions, al-Brn also focuses on the motives that
blind an individual from discerning the truth,45 that is, to distort the truth as a
result of custom, partisanship, rivalry, passion and the desire for power.46 Fur-
ther refining this list of factors that may influence a cultural historian, al-Brn
presents the fundamentals for a dispassionate description of other nations
and cultures despite the difficulties involved in achieving such dispassionate
descriptions.47 The fourth chapter, which he states is devoted to legends con-
cerning Dhl-qarnayni, also presents a rather lengthy criticism of the false
claim of the Buyids to descent from the Sasanian emperor Bahrm Gr and
praise for the true descent of his patron, Shams al-Mal, and of the shahs of
Khurasn and Shirvn from the Sasanian royal house. This subject is imposed
on a chapter devoted to legends and, therefore, illustrates the disruptive harm
that external or personal influences, such as partisanship or loyalty to a patron,
can have on the content of a work. Choosing the chapter devoted to legends
in order to introduce this concern may very well have been for the purpose of
rendering the factual correctness of the true descent of al-Brns patron in
a generally ambivalent light given al-Brns inability to overtly express such
doubts.
The client-patron relationship and patronage in general figure strongly in
each of these prefaces, except in the preface to the Hind, and an underlying
tension persists between al-Brns duty to demonstrate loyalty to his patron

42 munun li-libi l-aqqi wa murshidun il nayli m lam yatahayya lan (thr, p. 3, l. 9).
43 alayn an nakhudha l-aqraba min dhlika fal-aqraba wal-ashhara fal-ashhara (thr,
p. 3, l. 7).
44 nuailuh min arbbih wa nuliu minh m yumkinun iluh wa natruku sirah
al wajhih (thr, p. 3, l. 7).
45 al-asbbu l-mumiyatu li-ibih ani l-aqqi (thr, p. 2, l. 18).
46 kal-dati l-malfati wal-taaubi wal-tafuri wa-ttibi l-haw wal-taghlubi bil-ri-
sati (thr, p. 2, l. 18).
47 al anna l-ala lladh aaltuhu wal-arqa lladh mahhadtuhu laysa biqarbi l-makhadhi
(thr, p. 2, l. 21).
18 chapter 1

and the need to maintain his intellectual integrity by dispassionately navigat-


ing the (real and perceived) influences that he lists.

3 Al-Qnn al-masd fil-haya wal-nujm

The Qnn was written under the patronage of Masd b. Mamd (r. 1030
1040). He succeeded his father, Mamd b. Sebktigin, as sultan of the Ghaz-
navid dynasty after a power struggle with his younger brother Muammad.
Shortly before his death, Mamd had changed his mind and made another
son, Ab Amad Muammad, his heir, despite Muammads lack of experience
compared to Masd. When Mamd died in April 1030, Muammad became
sultan in Ghazna but was deposed and succeeded that summer by Masd
who had marched eastwards to Ghazna with his army. Masd was granted
new alqb or honorific titles from Baghdad. The work dedicated to this ris-
ing star, the Qnn, may be described as an astronomical handbook covering
the same ground as Ptolemys Almagest but introducing new material. These
include geographical tables giving the coordinates of six hundred cities, more
than any other mediaeval Arabic source. For India and China al-Brn reports
the coordinates of ninety cities given in no source antedating him. The Qnn
includes not only the numerical tables and accompanying rules for the solu-
tion of all standard astronomical problems, but also expounds the theoretical
and observational bases from which the rules and tables have been derived.
Like the Almagest, the Qnn contains theoretical derivations of astronom-
ical parameters, as well as tabular functions to facilitate the computation of
planetary positions. It thus differs from the works of most of al-Brns pre-
decessors and contemporaries who were concerned with constructing astro-
nomical tables or zj, suitable for computation of planetary positions, usually
without discussing the derivation of the parameters upon which the tables
were based. The methodological ethos of this fresh approach is set out in the
preface.
Although the preface to the Qnn was written after the Hind, it has much
more in common with the preface to the thr in terms of structure and con-
tent. Like it, the Qnn also begins with a doxology in which an opening pun
alludes to the works patron, Masd b. Mamd.48 This is immediately fol-
lowed by a pious Muslim expression of Gods transcendence and oneness.49

48 al-masdu man saida billhi azza wa jalla (Qnn, p. 1, l. 3).


49 wa tafarrada ani l-ashkli wal-ashbhi (ibid.).
al-brn: prologues and method 19

Muammad is next described in the hierarchy of importance as the chief


recipient of Gods magnificent grace,50 His religion,51 and His infallible Word,
the Qurn.52 Although the Qurn is quoted in the preface to the thr its
bestowal upon the Prophet is not specified as one of Gods acts of beneficence
towards Humankind nor is its infallibility mentioned.53 The underplaying of
the Qurns importance in the thr is in contrast to the perfection that is
attributed to Muammad54 and the microcosmic qualities with which God
endows both the Prophet and the Imms.55 Whereas in the thr it is the Shiite
vision of the divinely sent Perfect Man as microcosmos which is associated with
the Prophet and his family of Imms,56 in the Qnn a more Sunni understand-
ing prevails in which divine grace rather than God-given characteristics carries
perfection. In the thr the Prophet and the Imm are described as perfect
beings whereas in the Qnn it is the Prophets all too human dependence on
Gods scrupulous guidance and intervention that is described, thus emphasis-
ing the important act of divine grace rather than its recipient.57
It is noteworthy that neither the family of the Prophet nor the Immate are
mentioned in the Qnn, rather, it is the awliy or supporters who succeed
the Prophet and enjoy perspicacity and right guidance.58 Whereas in the thr
Shams al-Mal is an Imm and by implication a member of the Prophets fam-
ily, al-Brns hierarchy in the Qnn allows for only one distinction: that of
believer and unbeliever. Thus the Prophets supporters, al-awliy, are the com-
munity of believers, al-muminn, as a whole and what differentiates Masd,
being a wal, from his fellow believers is political rather than spiritual status.
This is likely the reason why he is referred to as a king and an aid to Gods
caliph.59 The distinction in the Qnn between the spiritual leadership of the
caliph and political leadership embodied in kingship60 is one which is not

50 ihruhu tal l-izzata liraslihi (Qnn, p. 1, l. 6).


51 ahara bihi dnahu (Qnn, p. 1, l. 8).
52 thumma khallafa badahu nrahu lladh l yanafiu bil-afwhi (Qnn, p. 1, l. 9).
53 wa l yabula bitakdhbi l-lisni wal-shifhi (ibid.).
54 Muammadu l-muaf khayru l-khalqi (thr, p. 1, l. 1).
55 wa amaddahu bikhuluqin qadi mtanna bimithlihi al nabiyyihi (thr, p. 1, l. 13).
56 wa al lihi aimmati l-hud wal-aqqi (thr, p. 1, l. 1).
57 wajadahu yatman fa-whu wa ilan fa-aghnhu att sharaa adrahu wa rafaa lahu
dhikrahu (Qnn, p. 1, l. 7).
58 wa awdaahu awliyahu lil-tabri wal-hidyati (Qnn, p. 1, l. 9).
59 kal-maliki l-ajalli l-sayyidi l-muaami niri dni llhi wa ahri khalfati llhi (Qnn,
p. 1, l. 11).
60 al-mulk (Qnn, p. 2, l. 8).
20 chapter 1

made in the thr where the very definition of the Perfect Man as microcosmos
necessitates the inclusion of both these roles in the person of the Imm. It may
be al-Brns awareness of such a distinction in the Ghaznavid understanding
of dynastic order and their greater reliance upon the caliphate for legitima-
tion that makes discussion of the Immate inappropriate in the preface to the
Qnn. Rather than an intellectual development, the change we encounter may
very well be a reflection of rival dynastic structures and the necessary intellec-
tual diplomacy of a scholar-servant in what most certainly were very different
courts with distinct polities.
Masds role is further elaborated as the protector of the Community and
the defender against its enemies.61 Moreover, as with the Prophet, it is Provi-
dence which intervenes in Masds favour62 returning to him what is rightfully
his,63 namely, kingship and power.64 Masds kingship is, therefore, granted a
divine disposition65 and a spiritual acknowledgement.66 This religious dimen-
sion begins subtly to acquire caliphal qualities through a transferred epithet,
namely, the shadow (of God), and a suggestive form of panegyric whereby al-
Brn describes Masd as (Gods) shadow to whom the believers are naturally
drawn67 and whose rule God has ordained in Umm al-Kitb.68 By attributing
Masd with qualities particularly associated with the caliph, al-Brn raises
his spiritual status to more than mere kingship but avoids the entanglement of
actually calling him caliph or Imm which, given the history of the Ghaznavid
dynasty, their reliance upon the caliphate in Baghdad for legitimacy, and their
extended conflict with the Buyids, would have been inappropriate titles. The
final stage in the hierarchy described cites al-Brns relationship with Masd.
The patron-client relationship, which necessitates an expression of gratitude,69
is built upon the basic requirement imposed on the subject, namely, to obey.70
Moreover, unlike the thr where patronage is implied and service71 is a duty, in

61 fiu ibdi llhi l-muntaqimi min adi llhi (Qnn, p. 2, l. 1).


62 khudhila fa-naarahu llhu wa rufia fa-al lahu shanahu (Qnn, p. 2, l. 5).
63 ruju l-haqqi il ahlihi (Qnn, p. 2, l. 4).
64 mulkahu wa sulnahu (Qnn, p. 2, l. 6).
65 al-iifu l-ilh (Qnn, p. 2, l. 10).
66 abhu l-irtha afwan (Qnn, p. 2, l. 9).
67 istajalat nawahu l-arwu litatafayyaa biafyihi (Qnn, p. 2, l. 11).
68 ukmuhu f ummi l-kitbi masran (Qnn, p. 2, l. 13).
69 yakhuun minhu nimatan tuaqqibu l-fakhra wa tjibu idmna l-shukri (Qnn, p. 2,
l. 13).
70 lazimatn l-atu bimmih (Qnn, p. 3, l. 1).
71 al-khidma.
al-brn: prologues and method 21

the Qnn patronage is clearly granted72 and service is expected73 although, as


ever, abundant praise appears to be freely and gratefully given. It is clear, then,
from the preface that al-Brn found favour with Masd, that he had access to
the court and received an income which enabled him to devote himself entirely
to his scientific work.
The primary reason described for crafting a work devoted to Masd is given
directly after the encomium to him and derives overtly from his influence
rather than al-Brns interest in science. Finding that Masd did not require
his services at the court, realising that science stood in the highest favour with
his patron,74 and aided by his personal interest in mathematics75 al-Brn
expresses his desire to compose a book on astronomy76 and to adorn it with
the name of his patron and master.77 In doing so, al-Brn mentions a further
reason for writing the Qnn, namely, to preserve Masds memory, and the
contents of the work through time. Given the prominence of the Qurn in the
Qnn, this is very evocative language:78 this aim is best achieved through the
medium of the book given its mobility and permanence.79
Al-Brn devotes the final part of the preface detailing his methodology.
Unlike the thr where the word al-taqld refers to the histories and is, there-
fore, synonymous with al-akhbr, in the Qnn al-taqld refers to the blind
imitation of al-akhbr which is one of al-Brns principle objections to the
methodology of Ibn Sn. This refining of terminology does not affect al-Brns
basic argument against erroneous attitudes towards received knowledge,
namely the reiteration of falsehoods contained in khabar passed down uncor-
rected. Al-Brn writes at length in the Qnn claiming that he did not fol-
low those who preceded him in their approach to received science because
blind imitation and repetition80 result in the perpetuation of uncorrected
faults.81

72 makkanan f abbati umr mina l-inbisi li-khidmati l-ilmi (Qnn, p. 3, l. 2).


73 lazimatn l-khidmatu bikhih (Qnn, p. 3, l. 1).
74 alfaytu rutbata l-ilmi indahu ashrafa l-rutbati (Qnn, p. 3, l. 16).
75 kuntu mutaalliqan bi-arafin min arfi l-ilmi l-riy (Qnn, p. 3, l. 17).
76 inatu l-tanjmi (Qnn, p. 4, l. 2).
77 allaytuhu biakrami ilyatin hiy l-qnnu l-masd (Qnn, p. 3, l. 3).
78 baqi l-dhikri f l-lamn (Qnn, p. 4, l. 7).
79 fal-kitbu min bayni l-thri l-mudawwanati abq al marri l-azminati, wa athbatu al
tabduli l-amkinati (Qnn, p. 4, l. 8).
80 lam asluk fhi maslaka man taqaddaman al may l-tarddi il qay l-taqldi
(Qnn, p. 4, l. 9).
81 idh kna khullida fh kullu sahwin badara minhum (Qnn, p. 4, l. 14).
22 chapter 1

Al-Brn believed all facts should be tested and backed by proof,82 and that
recipients of received knowledge should vigorously adhere to this method of
testing.83 He is interested in correcting faults84 and flaws,85 especially where
the perception of core truth is concerned.86 Al-Brn also claims to ensure
transparency in his work in a manner that not only deters imitation87 but also
promotes the possibility that his successors may attain greater accuracy, and
even correct his mistakes.88 As in the thr this is achieved through the sys-
tematic comparison of akhbr on a specific subject and the clear identification
of sources.89
The prevalent imagery of diagnosis and treatment of ailments is carried over
to a logical parallel where proof with regard to a given subject is understood to
be as integral as the soul in its relation to the body.90 This telling simile sums
up the process and aim of al-taqq, that is, verification by testing, whereby
proof91 and explanation92 are essential for the improvement and complete
appreciation of received knowledge just as the soul and body complement
one another to produce a whole human form which is complete for scientific
perception.93 The verification of khabar whereby perception94 of received
knowledge95 is achieved through correction96 is not only given a biological and
spiritual parallel through comparison of the soul with the body but is also put
forth in al-Brns conclusion to the preface of the Qnn as a divine ideal and
a quality of God.97

82 al-ujja (Qnn, p. 4, l. 15).


83 ihtidi mustamilh badahum il l-maajjati (ibid.).
84 tau khalalin (Qnn, p. 5, l. 1).
85 al-ilal (Qnn, p. 5, l. 4).
86 ammu l-aqqati (Qnn, p. 5, l. 2).
87 al-taqld (Qnn, p. 5, l. 5).
88 yaftatiu lahu bbu l-istiwbi lim aabtu fhi awi l-ili (ibid.).
89 qarantu bikulli amalin f kulli bbin min ilalihi wa dhikri m tawallaytu min amalihi
(Qnn, p. 5, l. 4).
90 lianna l-burhna mina l-qaiyyati qimun maqma l-ri mina l-jasadi (Qnn, p. 5, l. 6).
91 al-burhn (ibid.).
92 al-tibyn (Qnn, p. 5, l. 8).
93 kmilan lil-iyni (ibid.).
94 al-iyn.
95 al-akhbr.
96 al-il (Qnn, p. 5, l. 6).
97 innahu al m yashu qadrun wa bimalii ibdihi khabrun barun (Qnn, p. 5, l. 13).
al-brn: prologues and method 23

4 Kitb taqq m lil-Hind

Al-Brn completed the Hind in 1030 shortly after Mamd of Ghaznas death.
In the twelve years that he spent as court astrologer under Mamd, al-Brn
had great opportunity to gather information about India and acquire a knowl-
edge of Sanskrit and regional Indian dialects, which he subsequently used to
translate aspects of Hindu philosophy and science practised in the north west-
ern parts of India that were under Ghaznavid control. He also may have fur-
thered his knowledge by accompanying Mamd on plunder raids into the
northern Indian heartland.
The question as to the nature and purpose of the Hind, given that it is not
dedicated to a patron, is one which al-Brn addresses in the preface. A key to
understanding the content of the preface is the word al-taqq, verification,
which is to be found in the full explanatory title of the Hind.98 Unlike the pref-
aces of the thr and the Qnn where the patron is the primary subject of
prolonged attention, verification or the establishment of the truth, is the chief
focus of scrutiny and elaboration in this preface. Given the philosophical tex-
ture of much of the language which al-Brn uses, particularly in the Hind, and
the underlying intellectual rivalry with Ibn Sn throughout his professional
life, as evidenced by their early correspondence in the Asila, it is useful to anal-
yse al-Brns language in terms of this relationship and the mutual influences
which would most likely have occurred.
On this basis, an analysis of the word al-taqq by A. Goichon in her Lex-
ique99 is instructive given that in the Asila the same word is used to express
different viewpoints. According to Goichon the meaning of al-taqq is the
provision of proof, the establishment of the proof, its verification, and a deeper
understanding of it.100 Al-Brns concern is to achieve the truth, al-aqq, on
the basis of empirical knowledge which is rational and which has its source in
al-maqla,101 or an explanation of the essence of a thing.102 Such an explanation

98 Kitb Ab l-Rayn Muammad ibn Amad al-Brn f taqq m lil-Hind min maqla
maqbla fil-aql aw mardhla.
99 Goichon, A., Lxique de la langue philosophique d Ibn Sn. Paris, 1938.
100 tahqq, la preuve, l tablissment de la vrit; sa vrification; son approfondissement.
Ce mot figure souvent dans les titres de chapitres, introduisant ltude du subjet propos,
avec le sens dxaminer, creuser, dterminer exactement. Goichon, A., (1938: 84).
101 qawl, Qawl est donn comme synonyme d explication. Les traductions sont
diverses.La dfinition est elle-mme dfinie comme lnonc qui indique la quiddit
de la chose. Goichon, A., (1938: 319).
102 Maqla is also Arabic for an Aristotelian Category, cf. ei2: Al-Malt (a.), Categories,
24 chapter 1

is to be found in khabar, or received knowledge, as opposed to iyn, which is


the derivation of knowledge through observation. The khabar/iyn dichotomy
is a fundamental distinction in Islamic scientific texts during al-Brns time.
Indeed, in the Asila, he takes Ibn Sn to task for over-reliance on Aristotle, who
in turn is overly dependent on the received wisdom of his predecessors.103
Despite al-Brns criticism in the Asila of Ibn Sns excessive dependence
on akhbr, al-Brn is, nevertheless, forced to take recourse in khabar admit-
ting that, if beyond reproach, it would be manifestly superior to iyn.104 This
difference and the preference of one over the other is crucial in understand-
ing the nature of al-Brns methodology and in ascertaining his philosophical
position in light of the Asila and the subject matter of the Hind. Unlike the
thr and the Qnn whose historical and religious content are determined by
patronage and dynastic considerations, the Hind seems to be a far more per-
sonal work of philosophy, bent on determining Hindu cosmology in a manner
that is strikingly similar to Ibn Sns use of the Greek tradition. In view of such
a proposal the need to ascertain al-Brns philosophical position through the
outline of his methodology in the preface becomes essential.
Although not synonymous, the khabar/iyn distinction bears parallels with
the wider religio-philosophical dichotomy of reason, aql, versus tradition, naql.
Indeed, the greater scope of the term, aql, which is the first principle of Avi-
cennan philosophy, might be corroborated by iyn but is not dependent on it
for verification. Ibn Rushd, for example, attempts to unify what derives from
reason and what derives from tradition105 with the aim of showing that phi-
losophy and religion are compatible. Ibn Sn, on the other hand, favoured the
rational component of philosophy, falsafa, namely aql, which has its roots in
Aristotelianism, whilst viewing empiricism, naql, as being of secondary impor-
tance or even as ultimately deriving from reason.
For al-Brn the inverse is true, namely, that the rational component repre-
sented in the more specific term iyn, literally eye-witness account, is, for his
present purposes, secondary to the more complete knowledge and universal

the translation of the title of the work of Aristotle on that subject, which is also referred
to, by the transliteration of the Greek title as ghriy or ghriys. The singular is
usually mala, but mal is also found. Al-Malt is also found in the titles of works by
Muslim authors on the same subject.
103 For a discussion of this dichotomy see Montgomery, J., Ibn Rustas Lack of Eloquence, the
Rus, and Samanid Cosmography, in Edebiyat, Vol. 12: 1, 2001, pp. 7393.
104 lawl lawiqu ftin bil-khabari laknat falatuhu tabnu al l-iyni (Hind, p. 1, l. 3).
105 al-jamu bayna l-maqli wal-manqli. Leaman, O., An Introduction to Medieval Islamic
Philosophy. Cambridge, 1985. Chapter v, Happiness, philosophy and society.
al-brn: prologues and method 25

empiricism to be found in khabar, through which the past, present and future
may be ascertained as well as all that is material and immaterial.106 More lim-
ited than khabar, iyn, in a sense, is also empirical and so could be argued to
be distinct from aql although in terms of Islamic science aql includes iyn.107
Despite the similarity of the language used by Ibn Sn and al-Brn, their posi-
tions could not be more different.
The ramifications of this philosophical impasse are treated in the Asila in
medical terms: al-Brn raises doubts concerning the power of perception of
the human eye.108 The word used, idrk, or vision, in the Hind has metaphysi-
cal and philosophical connotations; indeed, al-idrk is used in the first line of
the preface to mean intellectual perception. Both these definitions are cited
by Goichon in her lexicon of philosophical vocabulary used by Ibn Sn which
suggests a common dialectic with al-Brn: idrak, saisie, perception, soit sen-
sible, soit intellectuelle, 109 Ibn Sn responds to the doubts raised by al-Brn
by denying that a difference in the Platonic and Aristotelian positions exists,
and then proceeds to explain the biology of al-ibr, the basic word for vision,
according to Aristotle, a manoeuvre which al-Brn is quick to point out.110
The passage highlights the philosophical debate embodied in their medical and
biological discussion and serves to add a further dimension of meaning to the
philosophical and ethical resonances of the vocabulary used in the preface to
the Hind.
In preferring khabar to iyn al-Brn not only places himself in opposition
to the Aristotelian school of Ibn Sn but in the process also presents an alter-
native ethic. The preference is expressed in terms of al-fala.111 This term not
only relates to ethical excellence but also points to the Platonic definition of the
four Cardinal Virtues: wisdom, valour, temperance and justice. The question as
to the veracity of khabar and the means by which the truth, al-aqq, is ascer-
tained takes the form of a medical diagnosis presented within the framework
of empirical science similar in texture and language to al-Brns objections
voiced in the Asila. It is important to note that the emphasis is placed on
acquiring the truth rather than what is rational and it is for this reason that
al-khabar is chosen over al-iyn as a more accurate source in which the factual

106 tanwulu l-khabari iyyh wa m qablah min m l-azminati wa badah min muqta-
balih hatt yaumma l-khabaru lidhlika l-mawjdi wal-madmi maan (Hind, p. 1, l. 4).
107 Leaman (1985: 104).
108 al-masalatu l-thlithatu: kayfa l-idrku bil-baari (Asila, p. 40).
109 Goichon (1938: 122).
110 m aala min jawbika ill taddu l-baari inda Aris (Asila, p. 57).
111 Hind, p. 1, l. 3.
26 chapter 1

is distorted by degrees but not completely changed. Thus, ascertaining verac-


ity112 and falseness113 is an empirical process involving the ethical diagnosis of
the motivation of transmitters114 and only secondly an ontological one through
which the content of al-khabar is scrutinized or an ideal Truth is sought. For
al-Brn the issue is the ethical practice of the transmitter in conveying facts.
Interestingly, the listed motives for lying are societal at their most sophisti-
cated: al-jins or genus115 and al-abaqa or class,116 and individual at their least
sophisticated: danatu l-abi117 or base nature118 and al-jahl or ignorance.119
The cause is humoral; for example, cupidity and animosity120 constitute the
cause whilst the motive is the furtherance of personal or national interests.121
These motives for lying may also be understood in terms of a study of the neg-
ative influence of patronage and the dangerous distortion of facts which might
result therefrom. Such a challenging analysis (though never overtly so) of the
implications of patronage is only possible in the preface to the Hind given the
lack of a dedication to any patron. It would, therefore, have been inconceiv-
able in the thr or the Qnn where such motives are barely alluded to122 and
where it is the scientific methodology and the treatment of al-akhbr rather
than the ethical diagnosis of the motivation of transmitters which is the focus
of concern.
Al-Brn stresses throughout the preface to the Hind the importance of
speaking the truth even if it means risking ones safety. He supports his stance
by quoting from the Qurn and the New Testament where speaking out the
truth, especially in the face of tyranny, is valued more than life.123 The moral
dimension of his explanation seems best embodied in the term al-khulq,124

112 al-idq (Hind, p. 2, l. 1).


113 al-kadhib (ibid.).
114 al-mukhbirn (Hind, p. 2, l. 2).
115 Hind, p. 2, l. 4.
116 Hind, p. 2, l. 6.
117 ab, Le ab semble se rapprocher d un habitus entitatif, tandis que tabia se rap-
procherait de l habitus opratif. Goichon, A., (1938: 199).
118 Hind, p. 2, l. 8.
119 Hind, p. 2, l. 10.
120 al-shahwatu wal-ghaabu (Hind, p. 2, l. 5).
121 yaqidu fh nafsahu fa-yuaimu bihi jinsahu (Hind, p. 2, l. 4).
122 wa hiya kal-dati l-malfati wal-taaubi wal-tafuri wa ittibi l-haw wal-taghlubi
bil-risati wa ashbhi dhlika (thr, p. 2, l. 18).
123 l tublu biawlati l-mulki fil-ifi bil-aqqi bayna aydhim falaysa yamlukna minkum
ghayra l-badani (Hind, p. 3, l. 1).
124 Hind, p. 3, l. 30. khulq Le pluriel akhlq a toujours le sens de lensemble des habitudes
al-brn: prologues and method 27

which is the singular of al-akhlq, ethics, and, therefore, bears the strongest
sense of morally correct action and habit.125
The derivation of an ethical vocabulary from medical works is an evident
feature in al-Brns framework of ethics and in this context is meant to high-
light the importance of relaying information truthfully. Just as justice126 in ones
nature127 is desirable for its own sake128 and sought after because of the ben-
efit129 that it brings, so too is the case with truthfulness.130 Al-Brns conse-
quent description of an individual suffering from a deprivation of justice in his
nature131 is a telling one because of the characteristics of the deficiencies and
the examples given of the crimes committed. Such an individual is not only
a liar132 and a breaker of trust but also a plunderer of others wealth through
subterfuge; he is a thief, and a propagator of vices that ruin the world and
humankind.133
According to Sachau, it is not inconceivable, since the Hind does not seem
to have a clear patron, that the description given is implicitly directed at the
deceased Mamd of Ghazna who kept al-Brn in his court, though he was
not shown great favour nor encouraged in his study of India with the hope
of royal reward.134 Moreover, al-Brn does not shy away from describing the
destructive effect of Mamds military campaigns on Indian civilisation and
the well-being of its citizens, which is certainly not in line with the glorifica-
tion of a Ghz. Al-Brn says: He [Mamd] utterly ruined the prosperity of
the country (of India), and performed those [unheard-of things] (Sachau: won-
derful exploits) by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all
directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people.135 Later, al-Brn
goes so far as to suggest that Hindu hostility engendered by Mamds mili-
tary strategies forms the chief barrier to communication. The moral encomia

morales par laquelle on sait comment doivent tre les moeurs et les actions de lhomme
Goichon, A., (1938: 112).
125 sawun knat f qawlin aw knat f filin (Hind, p. 3, l. 5).
126 al-adl (Hind, p. 3, l. 6).
127 al-ib (ibid.).
128 lidhtih (ibid.).
129 al-usn (ibid.).
130 al-idq (Hind, p. 3, l. 7).
131 al-dilu ani l-adli (Hind, p. 3, l. 9).
132 al-muaththiru lil-jawri wa shahdati l-zri (ibid.).
133 fasdu l-lami wal-khalqati (Hind, p. 3, l. 11).
134 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: xvi).
135 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: 22).
28 chapter 1

of his patrons and their God-given authority, so prominently expressed in the


prefaces to the thr and the Qnn, are non-existent in the Hind. This work,
given the above implications and its moral and didactic, rather than religious
and eulogistic, introduction, is meant as an implicit critique of Mamds reign
and purports to set out in clear and dispassionate detail a true picture of Indian
civilisation based on authentic primary sources. Revealing a pragmatism more
than a moral idealism, al-Brn seizes upon a rare opportunity in the immedi-
ate wake of Mamds death to freely express himself in the Hind without the
weight of patronage bearing down upon his words and the consequent risks of
voicing his true convictions, under the aegis of speaking the truth.
Given the moral and ethically saturated content of the preface to the Hind
it is quite conceivable that for al-Brn an accurate description of another cul-
ture or religion was a moral responsibility. The example cited of the k136
who misrepresents the Mutazilite doctrine of Gods Omniscience highlights
the way in which such accounts [sing. ikya,]137 are more often than not
polemical works prone to the problem of misrepresentation.138 Al-Brn states
that these studies comprise a twofold distinction. The first is between those
which describe dogmas139 within the framework of one belief system and those
which attempt an understanding of wholly different religions.140 Any unrepre-
sentative and polemical content in the latter is less transparent141 because the
subject is exotic142 and its comprehension difficult to achieve.143 The second
distinction contrasts text-based pronouncements144 and those that derive from
oral lore145 and legendary narratives.146 By adverting to the different origins
of these pronouncements, al-Brn highlights the dangers of accepted fallacy

136 Hind, p. 3, l. 12.


137 Hind, p. 4, l. 1. ei2, ikya. The radical . k. y./w. is not represented in the urn but it is
found in adth with the primary meaning of to resemble or to imitate to reproduce
with the most exact fidelity the demeanour and bearing of various types of people.
138 hdhihi arqatun qalla m yakhl minh man yaqidu l-ikyata ani l-mukhlifna wal-
khumi (Hind, p. 4, l. 1).
139 al-madhhib (Hind, p. 4, l. 2).
140 al-milalu l-muftariqatu (Hind, p. 4, l. 3).
141 akhf.
142 libudih (Hind, p. 4, l. 4).
143 khafi l-sabli il taarrufih (ibid.).
144 kutubu l-maqlti (Hind, p. 4, l. 5).
145 al-asmr (Hind, p. 4, l. 9). ei2, Samar. It seems that samar is used mainly of tales of the
supernatural, but also of reports, since Ibn al-Nadim sometimes refers to authentic siyar
and asmr.
146 al-asr (Hind, p. 4, l. 9).
al-brn: prologues and method 29

contained in received knowledge for those who are not alert to the true facts
of a given subject.147 Throughout, the discernment of truth148 is underpinned
by an ethical structure.149 This focuses primarily on deontology, namely, the
duties and personal morality of al-k150 to which al-Brn, the k of this
work, is by implication also morally subject, and only secondarily on the tele-
ological validity of the source or, indeed, the truth that is inherent151 in a given
subject.
Al-Brn moves from an assessment of the nature of scientific exactitude to
the specifics of Indian religions.152 He argues that studies already produced
suffer from the uncritical acceptance of transmitted material,153 confused and
ill-marshalled thinking,154 bias, and finally from a distinct lack of precision155
and dispassionate reporting.156 Even al-ranshahr (fl. second half of ninth cen-
tury) of whom he makes an exception because of his imaginative thinking157
does not hit the mark when it comes to India and Buddhism.158 This is largely
as a result of his blind reliance upon Zurqn, of whom al-Brn speaks slight-

147 man yarifu aqqata l-li fh (Hind, p. 4, l. 6).


148 al-taqq.
149 ghayra l-khajili in hazzat biifihi l-falatu awi l-irri wal-lajji in rakhkhat fhi l-radh-
latu (Hind, p. 4, l. 7).
150 Hind, p. 3, l. 12.
151 This does not correspond to aqqatu l-li (Hind, p. 4, l. 6 and 8) which is al-Brns
utilitarian understanding of factual truth based upon scientific observation.
152 al-kalmu al adyni l-Hindi (Hind, p. 4, l. 10).
153 manlun wa bauh an bain manqlun (Hind, p. 4, l. 12).
154 ghayru muhadhdhabin al rayihim wa l mushadhdhabin (ibid.).
155 mayl and mudhana (Hind, p. 4, l. 14).
156 al-ikyatu l-mujarradatu (ibid.). mujarrad, a deux sens principaux: 1ire abstrait, ce
qui est obtenu par tajrd, de l l abstraction, la chose abstraite; 2ime spar, libre de toute
manire, ce qui est dans l tat de tajarrud, Mujarrad peut aussi prendre le sens de seul,
pur, en soi. Goichon, A., (1938: 40).
157 munfaridun bimukhtarain lahu (Hind, p. 4, l. 15). ikhtaraa, a t traduit par abstrahit,
mais il semble bien que c est tort et que ce verbe prsente dans le vocabulaire avicennien
son sens habituel de produire, imaginer Cependant cette traduction est autorise par la
thorie avicennienne des quatre degrs d abstraction ralise par les sens, limagination,
lestimative et l intelligence. Goichon, A., (1938: 104).
158 In the mid-eighth century Buddhism was flourishing in eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and
Transoxania with a series of prosperous trading communities located along the old cara-
van routes to India and China. By the eleventh century, however, Buddhism had so thor-
oughly disappeared from eastern Iran and Afghanistan that al-Brn was able to pass on
only very fragmentary information. See thr p. 206.
30 chapter 1

ingly, but also because al-ranshahr records common hearsay159 which ranks
below eyewitness accounts160 in importance.
It is for these reasons that al-Brn chooses not to reference the Islamic
literature on Hindu belief. Instead he bases the Hind upon his personal trans-
lations of Hindu texts, studies of Indian literary materials, and, his research
into Brahmin oral traditions. With a further disregard for Islamic literary tradi-
tion al-Brn disregards Ab Sahl al-Tiflss advice urging him to write a work
combining the elements of a polemic161 and a cultural guide book162 typical of
the Islamic heresiographical and geographical genres. Edward Sachau suspects
that Ab Sahl was one of the high civil functionaries of the court of Mamd.163
This would explain the character of the work which he encourages al-Brn to
write, namely, a functional work,164 literally an arsenal of information, to assist
in the administration of a subjugated population and a summary critique of its
religion to support165 the preservation of a conquerors sense of cultural supe-
riority.
Al-Brn seeks an entirely different objective. His aim is not to produce
a polemical work166 but to faithfully reproduce Indian beliefs, mainly Hindu,
using their words.167 For al-Brn this is the definition of al-ikya. What better
way to form a balanced picture of belief and custom than to quote Indian oral
and written sources literally168 even if what is cited contradicts the (Islamic)
Truth.169
It is significant that save for the tenth-century Isml author, Ab Yaqb
al-Sijistn, no other author writing in Arabic is mentioned in the Hind, despite
the vast wealth of information about Greek philosophy contained in the works
of al-Brns contemporaries such as Ab Sulaymn al-Sijistn (d. 1000), Ibn
Hind (d. 1030), Miskawayh (d. 1030) and many others. Hindu popular beliefs
and practices, in al-Brns view, were much like those of the ancient Greeks.
Furthermore, he even related some aspects of Hinduism to ideas quoted from

159 [al-] masmu mina [l-] awmmi (Hind, p. 5, l. 4).


160 al-iyn.
161 liman arda munqaatahum (Hind, p. 5, l. 7).
162 liman rma mukhlaatahum (ibid.).
163 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: 250).
164 dhakhra (Hind, p. 5, l. 7).
165 nuratan (ibid.).
166 kitbu ijjin wa jadalin (Hind, p. 5, l. 10).
167 ikyatu kalmihi (Hind, p. 5, l. 8).
168 al wajhihi (Hind, p. 5, l. 11).
169 wa in byana l-aqqa (Hind, p. 5, l. 8).
al-brn: prologues and method 31

the traditions of the Eastern Christians, Jews, Manichaeans, and Sufis. How-
ever, he also wanted to draw parallels between the Greek philosophy and Hindu
thought of the intellectual elites within these two societies. It is clear from the
tenor of the preface that al-Brn wishes to assert his independence from sec-
ondary sources and confine himself to the Greek primary sources which would
have been available to him in Arabic translations.170 As a direct consequence,
the Hind is highly unusual for its time because it draws on original sources,
mainly Hindu religious and philosophical texts, translated by the author from
the Sanskrit. Al-Brn states his reliance only on translations he has made of
the Samkhya171 and the Yoga-Stra of Patajali172 and hopes that by doing so
the Hind would enable his readers to dispense with other translations of these
Sanskrit tracts, partly by transferring large portions of his translations into the
Hind, and partly by focusing more on legal norms, al-fur, and science in order
to produce a truly encyclopaedic work.
This does not, however, provide an obstacle to the integration of the Indian
philosophical corpus and, by extension, the contributions of Indian science
into the worldview of the Muslim educated lite. According to Sachau Panthe-
ism in Islam, the doctrine of the Sufis, is as near to the Neoplatonic and Neopy-
thagorean schools of Greek philosophy as to the Vedanta173 school of Hindu
philosophers.174 Later scholars have expanded on this view to argue that al-
Brn maintained a belief in a core truth and a proto-religion in which all civil-
isations share. This position is not borne out in the three prefaces examined
here, rather, in accordance with al-Brns Asharite disposition, one senses the
incompatibility of his Islam, and the truth revealed to and transmitted by the
prophets, with those schools or movements cited by Sachau above. By omitting
Islam from comparison al-Brn implies its integrity and superiority despite

170 wa ufu ilayhi m lil-ynniyyna min mithlihi litarfi l-muqrabati baynahum (Hind, p. 5,
l. 12).
171 The earliest surviving authoritative text on Samkhya philosophy is the Skhya-krik
(c. 200 ce) of vara Krina. There were probably other texts in the early centuries ce,
however none of them are available today including the one which al-Brn used.
172 The Yoga-Stra of Patajali is the most significant text in the yoga tradition and represents
the codification of yoga ideas and practices that had developed over many centuries. This
text was composed sometime between 100 bce and 500 ce and contains 196 aphorisms
or stras on yoga called the eight-limbed, anga, or the best, rja, yoga. In medieval
times, anga-yoga was cast as one of the six main schools of Hindu philosophy.
173 In the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vednta came to mean the school of
philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads.
174 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: 254).
32 chapter 1

his employing any number of methods from observation to rationalisation to


demonstrate the interrelatedness of the sciences and religion whether it be
Islam or Hinduism.

5 Al-Brn, Hindu Cosmology, and Atomism

The cosmologies upheld by Ibn Sn and al-Brn are not only apparent in
their unique understanding of the perfect man,175 a person according to Ibn
Sn who has reached the highest position which corresponds to the acquired
intellect, but also, at the other end of the scale, in their views concerning the
nature of single metaphysical units. The rational component stressed in Ibn
Sns perfect man translates into an attack on Democritus atomism as it is
later upheld by Muslim theologians176 and defended by al-Brn in the Asila.
Atomism permeates many of al-Brns works and is certainly sensed in the
preface to the thr where he compares a day with the indivisible unit as the
basis of all constructs.177 For Ibn Sn, as for Aristotle, the great weakness of
the concept of indivisible atoms178 was that it postulated that atoms were not
subject to change, which for them was the very essence of matter. Similarly,
the essential component in the hierarchy of existents, according to Ibn Sns
cosmology, is generation and corruption to which even his perfect man is sub-
ject. Al-Brns criticism of the Muslim Peripatetics whom he identifies with
Aristotle179 does not blind him to the fact that there are also certain difficul-
ties in the atomistic view. He, nevertheless, maintains that the view held by the
Peripatetics is more open to criticism180 than the view of the atomists. Ibn Sn
responds by pointing out that Aristotle considered matter to be divisible ad
infinitum181 only potentially182 and not actually.183 Given al-Brns awareness
of Hindu religious influence on the ancient Mediterranean world it is not sur-
prising that the alternative that he proposes to Ibn Sns response, although

175 khayru l-khalqi, (thr, p. 1, l. 3).


176 al-mutakallimn.
177 idh hum [al-yawmu wal-laylatu] lil-shuhri wal-sinni wal-tawrkhi kal-widi lil-
addi minhu tatarakkabu wa ilayhi tanallu, (thr, p. 5, l. 11).
178 juzun l yatajazza (Asila, p. 17, l. 8).
179 Arisls (Asila, p. 17, l. 7).
180 ashna (Asila, p. 18, l. 2).
181 an yujazzaa abadan (Asila, p. 19, l. 1).
182 bil-quwwa (Asila, p. 19, l. 3).
183 bil-fil (ibid.).
al-brn: prologues and method 33

similar in objective, differs entirely in its source which is Indian philosophy.


In the preface to the Hind al-Brn notes the similarities between the Greek
and Hindu traditions, in particular, their shared belief in metempsychosis184
and the unity of the Divine.185 Pythagoras may have obtained his doctrine of
metempsychosis from India, mediated via Achaemenid Persia (sixthfourth
century bce), but similar ideas were known in Egypt and were present in
Greece before his time. It is known, moreover, that Hindu ascetics occasion-
ally visited Greece during Alexanders empire. The most striking similarity of
Greek and Indian thought is the resemblance between the system of mystical
gnosis described in the Enneads of Plotinus (third century ce) and that of the
Yoga-Stra attributed to Patajali (c. second century ce) which was translated
by al-Brn as, Tarjamatu kitbi Btanjal f l-khali mina l-irtibki186 although
it is unclear whether direct influence could have occurred in this case.
Indian philosophy as expressed in al-Brns Hind suggests a qualitative
atomism based upon the doctrine of the four elements of fire, air, earth and
water. Further research may reveal al-Brns knowledge of certain Indian
systems where the atoms are not absolutely indivisible but only relatively so,
which is closer to the minima doctrine than to the atomism of Democritus. If
this is indeed the case then the Hind reflects an outstanding episode in the
long history of debate between the defenders of the view of continuity and
the proponents of the discontinuity of physical bodies as well as an attempt to
introduce a wholly different, Indian (mainly Hindu) cosmology into this debate
and to present it to the worldview of the Muslim educated lite.

184 al-ull (Hind, p. 6, l. 1).


185 al-ittid (ibid.).
186 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966: 302325).
chapter 2

Hindu Metaphysics According to the Hind

1 Mediaeval Arabic Texts on Hinduism and Their Sources

Previously we noted the priority given to the methodological discussion in


the preface of the Hind in which Ab Sahl al-Tifls urges al-Brn to write
a work combining the elements of a polemic, typical of the Islamic here-
siographical and geographical genres, for those who wish to dispute with
them [Hindus],1 and a cultural guide book for those who wish to mix with
them [ibid.], (Hind, p. 5, l. 7), even though significant information on India
was already available through Arabic translations of Sanskrit works. These
include a translation reputedly by Ibrhm Fazr2 (d. 777) in 772 of Brhmas-
phuasiddhnta3 under the name of Sind Hind4 which Muslim mathematicians
in later periods used as a source book and which was quoted widely by Mus-
lim astronomers. Further, interest in Indian astronomy, mathematics and phi-
losophy was spurred by significant interaction with Hindu civilisation during
eighth-century Abbasid Baghdd.5 Such contact is indicated in, among other
sources listed by Ibn al-Nadm (d. 998),6 the Murj l-dhahab7 of al-Masd
(d. 956) and the Rasil8 of al-Ji (d. 869). Other relevant works translated

1 liman arda munqaatahum (Hind, p. 5, l. 7).


2 Ibrhm b. abb al-Fazr. Cf. Hind, p. 128, l. 12; p. 131, l. 6; p. 259, l. 7. Also in gas vi,
pp. 122124; gal s i, p. 391; Dodge, B., The Fihrist of al-Nadm. New York and London, 1970,
vol. ii, p. 649.
3 This is the main work of Brahmagupta, written c. 628. The text is notable for its mathematical
content.
4 Hind, p. 118, l. 9.
5 The following overview of Indian sources draws from the article by Roy Choudhury, M.L.,
1954: Ab Rain al Brn and his Indian studies, in Indo-Iranica 7 (3), pp. 922. Cal-
cutta.
6 Ibn al-Nadm, Muammad b. Isq. Kitb l-fihrist. G. Flugel (ed.). 2 vols. Leipzig 18711872.
Trans. Dodge, B., (1970).
7 Al-Masd, Murj l-dhahab. ed. and trans. C.A. Barbier de Meynard and B.M.M. Pavet de
Courteille. 9 vols. Paris 18611877 (Collections d ouvrages orientaux, publ. par la Socit
Asiatique, 2).
8 Al-Jiz, Rasil. Abd al-Salm Muammad Hrn (ed.). 2 vols. Beirut 1996. wa qad talamna
m f l-hindi mina l-isbi wa ilmi l-nujmi wa asrri l-ibbi wal-khari wal-najri

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_004


hindu metaphysics according to the hind 35

in this earlier Abbasid period to which al-Brn refers include Brahmaguptas


Khanakhdyaka,9 a book on astronomy known in its Arabic translation as al-
Arkand,10 Panchatantra of Vishnu Sarm translated by Ibn al-Muqaffa (d. 756)
under the Arabic title Kalla wa Dimna,11 and Ganit of rya Bhatta, a work of
arithmetic anonymously translated.12 The existence of many such anonymous
translations of Sanskrit texts may be attributed to the appointment of Hindu
physicians to the Abbasid court. The inspiration for the translation of medical
works came from the school of medicine that was started by the Barmakids.13
Since it was compulsory for an Hindu student to study grammar and philoso-
phy before he was allowed to pursue medicine, these medical scholars could
easily impart knowledge of Indian philosophy to those who sought it, hence
we find a variety of subjects introduced by the medical scholars to the court of
Baghdd.
It is highly unlikely that al-Brn was unaware of these translations from the
Abbasid court,14 however, his generally negative view of the standard of what

wal-tawri wal-inti l-kathrati l-ajbati, for you are aware of what India has in
mathematics, astronomy, medical secrets, turnery, carpentry, imagery, and many amazing
crafts, (Fakhru l-sdni al l-bni, vol. i, p. 212).
9 This is an astronomical work written by Brahmagupta in 665.
10 Hind, p. 346, l. 13.
11 Hind, p. 123, l. 11.
12 Roy Choudhury, M.L., (1954: 922) cites the Ganit in addition to other Sanskrit translations
of this early Abbasid period in Baghdd including: Panjika by Khn Jain (almanac),
Hitopadesh of Vishnu Sarm by Abal, Kall wa dimn through Persian, Nakshatra Sstra
(science of the lunar state) by an unknown author, Karana Tilak by Brahmagupta, a
synopsis by Ab Muammad Allah, and Josapha and Brlm (Bodhisatwa and Purohit), a
description of the Buddha and his preceptor in Persian.
13 The important presence of Hindu medics as court physicians in Abbasid Baghdd is
evidenced by a large number of Sanskrit works which were translated by these physicians
working in different fields during the eighth century. These include (cf. Roy Choudhury,
M.L., 1954) works translated from Sanskrit by Mank on the science of medicine, the
science of poison, veterinary science, treatment of pregnant women, and pharmacology.
Dhan translated works on the science of eight parts (anatomy) and the science of joints.
Moreover, there were many books translated by li (cf. li Abd al-udds in ei2)
but none of these manuscripts have been found. References to these translations by
li mention astrology (drawing of horoscopes), agriculture, anatomy and palmistry as
subjects.
14 Certainly by the time of Hrn al-Rashd (786808) the following Sanskrit works had
already been translated into Arabic, as recorded by Ibn al-Nadm in his Kitb l-fihrist
(Dodge, B., 1970: vol. ii, p. 710): Gynaecology by Roshena; Diseases of Gestation, author
unknown; Treatment of Snake Bites (Rai Pandit) translator unknown; Veterinary Science of
36 chapter 2

had been analysed in the past may have dissuaded him from overreliance upon
such sources:

An example was given on the explanation of the debate concerning the


religions and doctrines of the Hindus. I then pointed out that the major-
ity [of such debates on this subject] are recorded in books [i.e., are sec-
ondary], borrowed and copied from each other. They consist of snatches
which are an unorganised and untidy mixture of their view[s].15

This attitude may have encouraged the more direct methodology employed in
the Hinds use of original sources, mainly Hindu religious and philosophical
texts, which had not, up until his day, been made available or translated. In
spite of this al-Brn refers to a number of Arabic sources in connection with
his study on India and Indian subjects, these include Yaqb b. riqs (d. c. 796)
astronomical work entitled Tarkb l-aflk;16 the Sufi works of Ab Bakr al-Shibl
(861946) and Ab Yazd al-Bistm (804874),17 specifically in connection with
pantheism in Islam, as both drew extensively from Indian sources;18 references
to al-Kinds (c. 801873) use of the Karna;19 Carak Samhit as quoted by Al

Kankyan, translator unknown; Science of Necromancy of Rj Kahn, translator unknown;


Character of Women of Rj Kosh or Ghosh, translator unknown; Drinkable of Atri, trans-
lator unknown; Science of Wine, author and translator unknown; Science of Music, author
and translator unknown; Science of Mineralogy author and translator unknown.
15 wa kna waqaa l-mithlu f fawa l-kalmi al adyni l-hindi wa madhhibihim fa
ashartu il anna aktharah huwa masrun f l-kutubi huwa manlun wa bauh an
bain manqlun wa malqun makhlun ghayru muhadhdhabin al rayihim wa l mus-
hadhdhabin (Hind, p. 4, l. 10).
16 wa dhlika muqtabasun mina l-ra l-qadmi lladh akhu Yaqb bin riq f Tarkbi
l-aflki ani l-hind, (Hind, p. 132, l. 7). this is derived from the old theory narrated
by Yaqb Ibn riq in his book Tarkb al-aflk on the authority of his Hindu informant.
Cf. gas vi, pp. 124127.
17 Cf. gal s i, p. 353.
18 wa kaqawli Ab Bakr al-Shibl wa kajawbi Ab Yazd al-Bism, (Hind, p. 66, l. 17).
For an insightful analysis of the Upanishadic background of a number of al-Bisms
analogies, cf. Zaehner, R.C., Ab Yazd of Bism a Turning-Point in Islamic Mysticism,
in Indo-Iranian Journal i, 1955, pp. 286301. Cf. also Pines, S., 1994.
19 fatantah il ismi l-karna wa-in-aradta an udhakkiraka min amrih m rubbam nasay-
tahu falam anna l-Kind wa amthlahu athar alayh ghayra mufaalatin, (Hind, p. 506,
l. 5). you will arrive at the word Karna and if you wanted me to remind you a little
of what you might have forgotten about it, know that al-Kind and his like came across it
without it being explained.
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 37

b. Zain;20 al-Brns own astronomical work entitled Khayl l-kusfayn;21 and,


finally, al-Brn demonstrates a high regard for the account of Ab al-Abbs
al-rnshahr22 (b. ninth century) although less so of his partial reliance upon
a work by Zurqn written in 863:

I did not find among those writers of treatises anyone who sought purely
to narrate without bias or flattery except Ab al-Abbs al-rnshahr
when he came [in his book] to the Hindus and the Buddhists his arrow
missed the mark, and in its latter part he strayed upon the book of Zurqn
and copied its contents into his own book.23

2 Al-Brns Sanskrit Sources: Kitb Snk and Kitb Btanjal

It is quite clear from even a summary overview of al-Brns extant writings,


that when it comes to the subjects of Hindu astronomy, philosophy and reli-
gion it is on his own wide readings in and translations of Sanskrit texts that he
relies. Al-Brn refers to at least ten Hindu works24 in the Hind on which he
had worked or with which he was familiar, and almost as many translations25

20 fa hdhihi awlu l-jkt diratun f Gatryuka; wa f kitbi Jarak ikyatu Al bin Zain
l-abar anhu, (Hind, p. 321, l. 15). This is the nature of the yugas [sic] as they circle round
through the Caturyuga. The book Caraka, as quoted by Ali Ibn Zain of abaristn, says ,
Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: 382).
21 wa qad taqaayn barhna hdhihi l-amli f kitbin wa sammaynhu bikhayli l-kus-
fayni, (Hind, p. 512, l. 17). we have examined thoroughly the proofs of these methods in
a book entitled Khayl l-kusfayn.
22 Cf. gas vi, pp. 172173.
23 fa m wajadtu min abi kutubi l-maqlti aadan qaada l-ikyata l-mujarradata min
ghayri maylin wa l mudhanatin siw Ab l-Abbs l-rnshahr wa na balagha firqata
l-hindi wal-shamaniyyati fa sahmuhu ani l-hadafi wa sha f khirihi il kitbi Zarqna
wa naqala m fhi il kitbihi (Hind, p. 4, l. 13).
24 Important works include: Brhmasphuasiddhnta of Brahmagupta (astronomy and
mathematics), Hind, p. 118, l. 17; Brhatsamhit of Varhamihira (astrology), Hind, p. 89, l. 14;
Laghujtaka of Varhamihira (astrology), Hind, p. 122, l. 5; Pacasiddhntik of Varhami-
hira (astronomy), Hind, p. 119, l. 2; Paulisasiddhnt by Paulisa (Indian astronomy), Hind,
p. 118, l. 14; Romakasiddhnta by Srisena (astronomy), Hind, p. 118, l. 16; Khanakhdyaka of
Brahmagupta (astronomy), Hind, p. 120, l. 16; Chhanda of Haribhatta (meter and prosody),
Hind, p. 109, l. 1; Yoga-Stra of Patajali (philosophy), Hind, p. 42, l. 7; and the Git (reli-
gion), Hind, p. 21, l. 17.
25 Including Brhmasphuasiddhnta of Brahmagupta, Hind, p. 118, l. 17; Laghujtaka of
38 chapter 2

as well as works which he claims to have written in Sanskrit.26 This emphasis


on self-reliance highlights the importance of the Hind in its role as a cosmolog-
ical treatise drawing upon original sources, mainly Sanskrit scientific, religious
and philosophical texts, rather than a further recapitulation of inherited mate-
rials and oral accounts or, indeed, a comparative study of religions based on
contemporary Graeco-Arabic philosophy.
In the preface to the Hind al-Brn refers to his reliance on the translations
he has made of the Skhya of Kapila and the Yoga-Stra of Patajali. He
suggests that the Hind would replace these translations of Sanskrit works,
which are religious and metaphysical rather than scientific in content, partly by
transferring large portions of these translations into his latest work, and partly
by focusing more on detail, al-fur, and science:

And I had translated into Arabic two books, the first on beginnings and
the description of existence called Snk, and the other on the emancipa-
tion of the soul from the snares of the body called Btanjal. These two
contain the fundamentals of their [the Hindus] belief but without the
details of their [religious] laws.27

An analysis of Arabic translations of Sanskrit texts available to al-Brn as well


as a discussion of the sources which he refers to or directly quotes from in
the Hind is as important as an analysis of his methodology. Indeed it is sig-
nificant, given this received wealth of translated materials on many relevant
topics, that the Hind draws primarily upon al-Brns direct personal study of
Sanskrit original works as well as from contact with astronomers28 in Ghazna,

Varhamihira, Hind, p. 122, l. 5; Brhatsamhit of Varhamihira, Hind, p. 272, l. 2; Yoga-Stra


of Patajali, Hind, p. 42, l. 7; Skhya of Kapila, Hind, p. 102, l. 2; Nyya of Kapila, p. 102, l. 4.
26 References to the original books written in Sanskrit by al-Brn include al-Majis (Greek
astronomy) and Euclids works translated into Sanskrit, (cf. Boilots Loeuvre dal-Brn,
mideo 2, 1955, which is the standard listing of al-Brns works, and includes the Sanskrit
translations of Euclids Elements [rg 175], Ptolemys Almagest [rg 176], and a work on the
astrolabe [rg 177]; the article notes that these books were made by others for al-Brn).
27 wa kuntu naqaltu il l-arabiyyi kitbayni aaduhum f l-mabdii wa ifati l-mawjdti,
wa ismuhu Snk wal-kharu f takhli l-nafsi min ribi l-badani wa yurafu bi- Btan-
jali wa fhim aktharu l-uli llat alayh madru itiqdihim dna furi shariihim
(Hind, p. 6, l. 1).
28 inn kuntu aqifu min munajjimhim maqma l-tilmdhi mina l-ustdhi liujmat fm bay-
nahum wa qur amm hum fh min muwatihim (Hind p. 17, l. 16). I was, when it
came to their astronomers, in the relation of pupil to teacher, because I was a foreigner
among them and ignorant of their terminology.
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 39

in Indian cities, and in places of pilgrimage for Hindus, and only secondarily
upon Sanskrit texts translated into Arabic during the earlier and later Abbasid
period. It is significant in the light of al-Brns heavy reliance upon Patajalis
Yoga-Stra when outlining a Hindu perspective of the soul in the Hind, that
he should define these two earlier works so sharply in its preface. Given that
al-Brns Samkhya text has not survived it can only be concluded from the
allusion to it in the preface and the ample quotations found from it in the first
section of the Hind that al-Brn chose to limit his use of Classical Samkhya
to certain aspects of metaphysical speculation, namely, its treatment of begin-
nings and the description of existence.29 This is despite the fact that Classical
Samkhya, as it is generally defined, comprises its own dualistic theory regarding
the soul/matter relationship.30
The numerous philosophical differences between Classical Yoga and Classi-
cal Samkhya (henceforth referred to simply as Yoga and Samkhya) derive from
the different methodologies adopted by the two schools of thought. Samkhya
relies primarily on the exercise of the discernment of spirit, purua, from mat-
ter, prakrti, on the basis of prefabricated categories of differentiation, stressing
a theoretical and intellectual analysis in order to bring out the nature of final
emancipation.31
Yoga, on the other hand, cannot be strictly described as a dualistic system
since emancipation is achieved through a practical understanding and clearer
realisation of ones intrinsic identity as spirit, purua, rather than through the
intellectual discernment of purua from matter, prakrti. The history of yoga
is long and ancient. The term yoga, derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, to
control, to yoke, or to unite, refers to these disciplines of asceticism and
meditation which are thought to lead to spiritual awakening and profound
insight into the nature of existence. Yoga is the means whereby the mind
and senses can be restrained, the limited, empirical self or ego, ahamkra,
can be transcended and the selfs true identity eventually experienced. The
actual term yoga first occurs in the Kaha Upaniad32 (2. 3. 1011) where it is
defined as the steady control of the senses, which, along with the cessation
of mental activity, leads to the supreme state. The text most significant in
the yoga tradition is the Yoga-Stra of Patajali. This text, composed some

29 f l-mabdii wa ifati l-mawjdti (Hind, p. 6, l. 2).


30 Larson, G., Classical Samkhya: An Interpretation of its History and Meaning. Delhi, 1969.
31 Whicher, I., The Integrity of the Yoga Darana. New York, 1998.
32 The Kaha Upaniad is one of the primary Upanishads dating back to perhaps the sixth
century bce.
40 chapter 2

time between 100 bce and 500 ce, contains pithy aphorisms on Yoga, called the
eight-limbed, anga, or the best, rja, yoga. The Yoga-Stra codifies yoga
ideas and practices which had been developing for many centuries. Patajali
succinctly defines yoga in the second Stra: Yoga is the cessation of men-
tal fluctuations, (Yoga-Stra, i. 2)33 That is, yoga is a state of concentration
in which the wandering mind, fed by sense impressions and memories, is
controlled and made to be one-pointed, ekgrat. This mental control occurs
through developing eight aspects or limbs of the yogic path. These are: ethics;
discipline; posture; breath-control; sense-withdrawal; concentration; medita-
tion; and absorbed concentration, samdhi, which leads to the primary goal of
liberation, kaivalya. Kaivalya, in Patajalis system, is liberation from the wheel
of transmigration and the realisation of the selfs solitude and complete tran-
scendence.34
The different methodologies adopted by these two Hindu philosophical
schools (Yoga and Samkhya) and its reflection in their discussion of the nature
of the soul/matter relationship is the reason why al-Brn sharply defines and
separates the subject matter of his two translations, Kitb Btanjal and Kitb
Snk. Thus, quotations from Kitb Snk cited in the Hind, seem to be mainly
limited to the exposition of abstract metaphysical knowledge and attribute lit-
tle significance to the dualistic psychology of Samkhyan doctrine. Kitb Btan-
jal, on the other hand, as the quotation from the preface to the Hind indicates,
has as its main subject Patajalis philosophy of the soul which conveys, in con-
tradistinction to Samkhyan dualism, a pragmatic and experiential approach to
achieve salvation. This is accomplished by dealing with the whole individual
as both spirit and matter, an approach whose practical sophistication moves
beyond the theoretical level of dualistic finality to the actual possibility of real
liberation as described in al-Brns Kitb Btanjal. It is likely, then, given the
general awareness of this conscious differentiation of subject matter within al-
Brns two translations, that he actively chose to emphasise the methodology
of Patajalis yoga when describing his view of the Hindu understanding of the
soul over the dualistic metaphysics of Samkhya.
In this context the psychology of the Hind may be understood in terms of a
subtle comparison and exploration of the two systems of Samkhya and Yoga,
based mainly upon quotations from al-Brns two translations, in order to dif-

33 Mukerji, P.N., Yoga Philosophy of Patajali. Calcutta, 1963. All subsequent quotations from
the Yoga-Stra of Patajali are drawn from this edition.
34 This summary overview of yoga is taken from Flood, G., An Introduction to Hinduism.
Cambridge, 1996, pp. 9698.
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 41

ferentiate between them in terms that complement his philosophical and cos-
mological narrative. This narrative is illustrated in psychological terms in the
first section of the Hind that bases itself on and draws directly from Kitb Btan-
jal, al-Brns own non-dualistic translation of Patajalis Yoga-Stra. Through-
out this section, al-Brn contrasts these sources with a stricter metaphysical
dualist interpretation of the Samkhyan text, as is clear from quotations he cites
from his Kitb Snk translation.

3 The Differentiation of Kitb Snk and Kitb Btanjal35

A clear example of differentiation is found in the second chapter of the Hind


entitled A description of their [the Hindus] belief in God, may He be exalted.36
This chapter begins with a general description of Hindu belief in a God who
seems very similar, if not identical, to the Muslim God:

The belief of the Hindus in God, may He be exalted, is that He is the


eternal one with neither beginning nor end, who is free in His actions,
omnipotent, all wise, living and life giving, ruling and preserving, alone
in His kingdom without likeness or unlikeness, resembling nothing and
nothing resembling Him.37

Given the fact that many of the above epithets are typical Muslim terminology
for describing God it is all the more interesting that the first important inter-
pretative statement by al-Brn of Hindu doctrine in the Hind should reflect
a strong monotheistic current. More importantly, it casts a non-dualist theme
which sets the analytical tone and discursive drive in many other subject-areas
of al-Brns treatise including the psychological and metaphysical discussion
at the outset.

35 Parts of this and the following section are drawn from my paper presented at the Con-
ference of the School of Abbasid Studies held in Trinity Hall, Cambridge in July 2002
entitled: The Epilogue of al-Brns Kitb Btanjal in Montgomery, J.E. (ed.), Abbasid
Studies. Occasional Papers of the School of Abbasid Studies, Cambridge 610 July 2002. Leu-
ven: Peeters, 2004. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 135.
36 f dhikri itiqdihim f llhi subnahu (Hind, p. 20, l. 1).
37 wa itiqdu l-hindi f llhi subnahu annahu l-widu l-azal min ghayri ibtidin wa l
intihin al-mukhtru f filihi al-qdiru l-akmu l-ayyu l-muy l-mudabbiru l-mubq l-
fardu f malaktihi ani l-addi wal-anddi l yushbihu shayan wa l yushbihuhu shayun
(Hind, p. 20, l. 5).
42 chapter 2

Al-Brn concedes that the Hindus belief in God as one,38 eternal,39 and
unique,40 is not universally held because of the difference between the edu-
cated elite,41 whose nature strives for reason and seeks to verify principles,42
and the masses,43 whose nature keeps them at the level of the senses, and
who are satisfied with what is derived without bothering about accuracy espe-
cially in areas where there is a difference of views and opinions.44 Accordingly,
the principle keynote of non-dualism, reflected in unambiguous monotheis-
tic language, is, nevertheless, set within the discursive context of other possi-
ble theological, metaphysical and psychological systems. As a result, the Hind
becomes both an exploration of divergent Hindu doctrines and a non-dualistic
interpretation based upon and drawing from a psychology gestated in his trans-
lation of Patajalis Yoga-Stra.
The combination of these activities discernible through a subtle compar-
ison of a triptych of texts, the Arabic translations of Patajalis Yoga-Stra,
the Samkhya text and a version of the Bhagavadgt,45 gives the Hind a rich
versatility and comprehensiveness. Such an approach diminishes the flaws of
bias, flattery or polemic outlined by al-Brn in the preface whilst maintaining
an interpretative direction to what is a professedly text-based analytical trea-
tise:

I did not find among those writers of heresiographies anyone who sought
purely to narrate without bias or flattery Let us quote extracts on this
subject from their books to avoid the danger of our account being based
solely upon hearsay.46

38 al-wid (Hind, p. 20, l. 6).


39 al-azal (Hind, ibid.).
40 al-fard (Hind, p. 20, l. 7).
41 al-kha (Hind, ibid.).
42 yunziu l-maqla wa yaqidu l-taqqa f l-uli (Hind, p. 20, l. 3).
43 al-mma (Hind, p. 20, l. 2).
44 ibu l-mmati yaqifu inda l-massi wa yaqtaniu bil-furi wa l yarmu l-tadqqa wa
khatan fm iftannat fhi l-ru wa lam yattafiq alayhi l-ahwu (Hind, p. 20, l. 3).
45 The famous Bhagavadgt (Sanskrit: Song of God) in its present day form is one of the
greatest and most beautiful of the Hindu scriptures. It forms part of Book vi of the Indian
epic the Mahbhrata, Great Epic of the Bhrata Dynasty, and is written in the form of a
dialogue between the warrior Prince Arjuna and his friend and charioteer, Krishna, who is
also an earthly incarnation of the god Vishnu. The Bhagavadgt is of a later date than the
major parts of the Mahbhrata and was probably written in the first or second century
ce. The poem consists of 700 Sanskrit verses divided into 18 chapters.
46 fa m wajadtu min abi kutubi l-maqlti aadan qaada l-ikyata l-mujarradata min
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 43

The interpretative direction of the Hind, therefore, based upon the psychol-
ogy developed in al-Brns Kitb Btanjal, does not preclude an exploratory
context in which the dualism to be found in the Samkhya text and the the-
ism of the version of the Bhagavadgt that he quotes enhance the scope of his
analysis of Hindu theology, metaphysics and psychology. This is achieved with-
out distorting the continuum of methodological perspective between Kitb
Btanjal and the Hind. By analysing the full range of Hindu thinking within
the parameters of these subject areas in the initial twelve chapters of the Hind,
al-Brn classifies and evaluates the major categories of Hindu philosophy and
religion without undermining the chief psychological context, itself a distilla-
tion and extension of what had been broached in Kitb Btanjal.

4 Theology from Kitb Btanjal to the Hind

It is significant, then, that the first important religious question to be broached


in the Hind should be primarily explored on the basis of a quotation from Kitb
Btanjal:

The questioner in Kitb Btanjal said: who is this who is worshipped, and
by the worship of whom success is obtained? Patajali answered: He is the
one who through His uniqueness and oneness is in no need of action to
reward it He cannot be contemplated being above unlikeness which is
detestable and likeness which is desirable and who in Himself is eternally
knowing.47

Al-Brns desire for a comprehensive understanding of Hindu doctrine which


is, of course, determined by the selection, translation and interpretation of cer-
tain texts, is not limited to those primary Sanskrit sources already mentioned.
Indeed, his reliance upon these texts does not diminish his important use of
other religions and sects in clarifying Indian philosophy and psychology. The
ultimate aim is to permit a selected Indian corpus and, by extension, the contri-
butions of Indian science to be integrated into the worldview of Mediaeval Ara-

ghayri maylin wa l mudhanatin (Hind, p. 4, l. 13) wa li-nrida f dhlika shayan min


kutubihim liall takna ikyatun kal-shayi l-masmi faqa (Hind, p. 20, l. 8).
47 qla l-silu f kitbi btanjal: man hdh l-mabdu lladh yunlu l-tawfqu biibdatih?
qla l-mujbu: huwa l-mustaghn bi-awwaliyyatihi wa wadniyyatihi an filin limukft
alayhi wal-baru ani l-afkri litalhi ani l-addi l-makrhati wal-anddi l-mab-
bati wal-limi bidhtihi sarmadan (Hind, p. 20, l. 9).
44 chapter 2

bic philosophy. As has been suggested earlier, al-Brn relates certain aspects
of Hinduism to ideas quoted from the traditions of the Greeks, Christians, Jews,
Manichaeans, and Sufis. Some scholars have used this to argue that al-Brn
maintained a belief in a core truth and a proto-religion in which all civilisa-
tions have a share. Such a position, however, is not necessarily borne out in
the preface to the Hind where one senses the incomparability of Islam, and the
truth revealed to and transmitted by the prophets, in contrast to non-Muslim
schools and sects. By generally omitting Islam from the comparative process,
al-Brn implies its integrity and superiority, despite his use of methods rang-
ing from observation to rationalisation to demonstrate the interrelatedness of
the Indian sciences and religion.
However, given the seemingly conscious exclusion of Islam from the dis-
cussion it is intriguing that the first religious statement by al-Brn regard-
ing Hindu belief in God should be so close in its monotheistic nature to the
Islamic theological tenets. He justifies this statement based on Kitb Btanjal,
his translation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali from which he derives a passage
that supports and further qualifies his assertion.
This strong relationship between al-Brns interpretative comments and
argumentation in the Hind and such ancillary quotations from Kitb Btanjal
is a key factor in determining the accuracy and the extent of a continuum of
methodological perspective between these two texts. For not only, in this first
example, does there exist a correspondence of conception between al-Brns
statement and the Kitb Btanjal passage but, more convincingly, there is the
parallel use of theological terminology. Thus al-Brn begins by describing
God as, the eternal one with neither beginning nor end, who is free in His
actions,48 just as the Kitb Btanjal passage begins with, He is the one who
through His uniqueness49 and oneness is in no need of (human) action.50
The nature of al-Brns opening monotheistic statement on Hindu belief
is further revealed in its latter portion describing Gods uniqueness, alone
in His kingdom without likeness or unlikeness, resembling nothing and noth-
ing resembling Him,51 which relates closely to part of Patajalis characteri-
sation of God, He cannot be contemplated being above unlikeness which

48 al-widu l-azal min ghayri ibtidin wa l intihin al-mukhtru f filihi (Hind, p. 20, l. 6).
49 Cf. the editors footnote (Hind, p. 20, l. 19) for the alternative reading of bi-azaliyyatih for
the given bi-awwaliyyatih (Hind, p. 20, l. 11), in his primariness.
50 huwa l-mustaghn bi-azaliyyatihi wa wadniyyatihi an filin (Hind, p. 20, l. 10).
51 al-fardu f malaktihi ani l-addi wal-anddi l yushbihu shayan wa l yushbihuhu
shayun (Hind, p. 20, l. 7).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 45

is detestable and likeness which is desirable.52 Finally, the quality of God as


omniscient53 which al-Brn posits as a Hindu theological tenet is not only
corroborated by the passage from Kitb Btanjal but also is explained fur-
ther and in some detail, thus attesting to both a methodological continuum
between Kitb Btanjal and the Hind and an interpretative one: who is in
Himself eternally knowing since accidental knowledge exists about that which
was not known before. Nor can ignorance be applicable to Him at any time or
in any circumstance.54

5 Passage 1: The Theological Interface between Kitb Btanjal and


the Yoga-Stra of Patajali

The supporting passage from Kitb Btanjal continues with a detailed discus-
sion of the attributes of God outlined by al-Brns statement at the outset of
the chapter:

After this the questioner says: does He have any attributes other than the
ones that you mentioned? Patajali answers: He is perfectly sublime in
power, not in place, for He transcends location. He is the pure and perfect
good longed for by every existent, and He is knowledge which is pure from
the contamination of negligence and ignorance.55

The presence of the Neoplatonic term the absolute good,56 reflects the more
general use of expressions deriving from Greek philosophical texts translated

52 wal-baru ani l-afkri litalhi ani l-addi l-makrhati wal-anddi l-mabbati (Hind,
p. 20, l. 12).
53 al-akm (Hind, p. 20, l. 7).
54 wal-limu bidhtihi sarmadan idhi l-ilmu l-riu yaknu lim lam yakun bimalmin wa
laysa l-jahlu bi-muttajihin alayhi f waqtin m aw lin (Hind, p. 20, l. 13).
55 thumma yaqlu l-silu bada dhlika: fahal lahu mina l-ifti ghayru m dhakarta? wa
yaqlu l-mujbu: lahu l-ulwu l-tmmu f l-qadri l l-makni fainnahu yajillu ani l-
tamakkuni, wa huwa l-khayru l-mau l-tmmu lladh yashtquhu kullu mawjdin, wa
huwa l-ilmu l-khliu an danasi l-sahwi wal-jahli (Hind, p. 20, l. 15). Cf. Kitb Btanjal,
p. 174, l. 6: qla l-silu: fahal lahu mina l-ifti ghayru m dhakarta? qla l-mujbu: lahu
l-ulwu l-tmmu f l-qadri l l-makni fainnahu yajillu anni l-tamakkuni, wa huwa l-
khayru l-mau l-tmmu lladh yashtquhu kullu mawjdin, wa huwa l-ilmu l-khliu
an danasi l-sahwi wal-jahli. The passage quoted in the Hind corresponds to questions
1418 and the answers to them in Kitb Btanjal.
56 al-khayru l-mau (Hind, p. 20, l. 17).
46 chapter 2

into Arabic but here, remarkably, employed to interpret the Yoga-Stra of


Patajali. Thus the three Gunas57 of sattva (sentience and intelligence), rajas
(mobility and activity), and tamas (inertia and darkness), are represented
in Kitb Btanjal58 in the Neoplatonic terms of the absolute good,59 and
the absolute evil,60 or the class that is a mixture of the two.61 Similarly, the
Neoplatonic-sounding expression He is perfectly sublime in power,62 is pri-
marily based on the commentary by Vysa63 of Stra i. 26, As He was present
with His full powers in the beginning of the present cycle of creation, so was He
at the beginning of the past creations [emphasis added].64 Finally, it may be
argued that the Neoplatonism in the phrase He is knowledge which is pure
from the contamination of negligence and ignorance,65 derives from Vysas
commentary on Stra i. 24.66 The provenance of the terminology is less signifi-
cant than commentators such as S. Pines and T. Gelblum67 have insisted upon,
given the Hindu philosophical context in which they appear and their practi-
cal function as an accessible means of expression for conveying broadly parallel
concepts from the Yoga-Stra of Patajali.

57 The three Gunas serve as the fundamental operating principles or tendencies of matter,
prakrti.
58 wa marifatuhu bil-kayfiyyati ahuwa min jinsi l-khayri l-mai aw min jinsi l-sharri l-
mai aw mina l-jinsi l-mumtaziji baynahum (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 2), and the cogni-
tion (of the known object) in terms of its nature, whether it belongs to the class of pure
good or to the class of pure evil or to the class that is a mixture of the two. This is an inter-
pretation of the idea projected by Vysa of the three Gunas, described in his commentary
to Yoga-Stra ii. 18, Sentience is the characteristic of Sattva, mobility of Rajas and inertia
of Tamas. These three Gunas are distinct though mutually related. Mukerji, P.N., (1963:
176).
59 al-khayru l-mau.
60 al-sharru l-mau.
61 al-jinsu l-mumtaziju baynahum.
62 lahu l-ulwu l-tmmu f l-qadri (Hind, p. 20, l. 16).
63 The earliest of the classical commentaries on the Yoga-Stra of Patajali is by Vysa,
generally believed to be a historical figure who wrote his commentary within decades of
the appearance of the Yoga-Stra.
64 Mukerji, P.N., (1963: 71).
65 huwa l-ilmu l-khliu an danasi l-sahwi wal-jahli (Hind, p. 20, l. 17).
66 The special Purua, who on account of his eternal liberation, is uncontaminated even
by the touch of enjoyment or suffering, is called vara For these reasons vara is
always vara, i.e., Omniscient and always liberated. His pre-eminence is never equalled
nor excelled.
67 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., Al-Brns Arabic Version of Patajalis Yogastra, bsoas 29/2,
1966, pp. 302325; 40/3, 1977, pp. 522549; 46/2, 1983, pp. 258304; 52/2, 1989, pp. 265305.
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 47

The second part of this expansive passage from Kitb Btanjal is essen-
tially epistemological with a discussion of the nature of the difference between
human and divine knowledge: The questioner said: if He speaks as a result of
his knowledge then what is the difference between Him and those wise teach-
ers who spoke as a result of their own knowledge?68 The comparison of divine
knowledge with human knowledge is expressed in terms of the characteristic
of speech,69 which, in the Islamic tradition at least, is attributable to both God
and Human.70
Although the Yoga-Stra of Patajali mentions only that God (vara) is
expressed by the sacred syllable Om,71 al-Brn in Kitb Btanjal under-
stands Stra i. 27 as qualifying God with speech but without making any ref-
erence in his translation to this sacred syllable: Do you describe him as hav-
ing speech or not? Patajali answered: if he is knowing then he undoubtedly
has speech.72 Nevertheless, the transference of divine knowledge through the
device of human speech among sages and in the sacred texts which they receive
does, in fact, correspond more closely to the commentary by Vysa in both
Yoga-Stras i. 24 and i. 27: To some of them [God] sent down a book, to oth-
ers He opened a door for mediation with Him, others received revelation from
Him and grasped through thought what he had granted them.73 Indeed, the

68 qla l-silu: fa in kna mutakalliman liajli ilmihi fa m l-farqu baynahu wa bayna l-


ulami l-ukami lladhna takallam min ajli ulmihim? (Hind, p. 21, l. 1).
69 al-kalm.
70 kalm, parole, synonyme de qawl, mais laissant ce dernier la signification technique,
pour ne garder que la signification courante.Le prophte a pour caractristique dcou-
ter la parole de Dieu [an yasmaa kalma llhi] Lun des sens vulgaires du mot intelli-
gence est celui-ci: une louable disposition qui appartient lhomme dans ces mouve-
ments, ses repos, sa parole, son choix, [hayatun mamdatun lil-insni f araktihi wa
sukuntihi wa kalmihi wa ikhtiyrihi]. Goichon, A., (1938: 352).
71 Cf. Stra i. 27, The Sacred Word Designating Him Is Pranava Or The Mystic Syllable Om.
Also Vysa on this Stra, vara is indicated by the mystic syllable.
72 afataifuhu bil-kalmi am l? qla l-mujbu: idh kna liman fahuwa l malata muta-
kallimun (Hind, p. 20, l. 18).
73 faminhum man alq ilayhi kitban, wa minhum man fataa liwsiatin ilayhi bban, wa
minhum man aw ilayhi fanla bil-fikri m afa alayhi (Hind, p. 21, l. 7). Cf. Vysa on
Stra i. 24, The question, therefore, arises whether this perpetual superiority of vara on
account of the excellence of His self is something of which there is proof or is it something
without any proof? The reply is The Sacred books are its proof. What is the proof of
the genuineness of the scriptures? Their genuineness is based on supreme wisdom. The
stras [Hindu scriptures] and their sublime wisdom which are present in the mind of the
vara and His pre-eminence are eternally related to each other. For these reasons vara
48 chapter 2

clinching factor in this epistemological discussion which differentiates human


from divine knowledge is clearly understood and reflected in Kitb Btanjal:

[Patajali] answered: the difference between them is time, for they [the
wise teachers] acquired learning in time and they spoke after having been
ignorant and unable to speak, and they transmitted their science to others
by speech, thus their speech and teaching took place in time. Since divine
matters have no connection with time, God, may He be exalted, knows
and speaks in pre-eternity.74

Here we find an epistemological discussion about the pre-eternity of certain


knowledge: God, may He be exalted, knows and speaks in pre-eternity,75 over
against the temporal acquisition of knowledge: The difference between them
is time, for they [the wise teachers] acquired learning in time.76 Embedded in
this passage is a methodological delineation of effective means for transmitting
knowledge on the metaphysical and physical levels of divine to human,77 and
human to human,78 as well as on the temporal level of transmitting knowledge
through (textual) narration and teaching.79

is always vara, i.e., Omniscient and always liberated. Cf. also Vysa on Stra i. 27: Sages,
who know the stras, say that on account of similarity of usage, the relationship between
a word and the object indicated by it is eternal.
74 qla l-mujbu: al-farqu baynahum huwa l-zamnu fa-innahum taallam fhi wa takallam
bada an lam yakn limna wa l mutakallimna wa naqal bil-kalmi ulmahum il
ghayrihim fa-kalmuhum wa ifdatuhum f zamnin, wa idh laysa lil-umri l-ilhiyyati
bil-zamni ittilun fallhu subnahu limun mutakallimun f l-azali (Hind, p. 21, l. 3).
Cf. Stra i. 26: [He is] The Teacher Of Former Teachers, Because With Him There Is No
Limitation By Time (Of His Omnipotence). Also Vysas commentary on Stra i. 26: The
former teachers of knowledge and of piety are limited by time, but He to whom time as
limiting factor is not applicable, was the teacher of the former teachers.
For the translation of the Arabic, f l-azali (Hind, p. 21, 6), as in pre-eternity, see Vysa
on Stra i. 26: As He was present with His full powers in the beginning of the present cycle
of creation, so was He at the beginning of the past creations, [emphasis added].
75 fallhu subnahu limun mutakallimun f l-azali (Hind, p. 21, l. 6).
76 al-farqu baynahum huwa l-zamnu fa-innahum taallam fhi (Hind, p. 21, l. 3).
77 faminhum man alq ilayhi kitban, wa minhum man fataa liwsiatin ilayhi bban, wa
minhum man aw ilayhi fanla bil-fikri m afa alayhi (Hind, p. 21, l. 7), to some of
them [God] sent down a book, to others He opened a door for mediation with Him, others
received revelation from Him and grasped through thought what he had granted them.
78 wa naqal bil-kalmi ulmahum il ghayrihim (Hind, p. 21, l. 4), And they transmitted
their science to others by speech.
79 fakalmuhum wa ifdatuhum f zamnin (Hind, p. 21, l. 5), Thus their speech and teaching
took place in time.
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 49

This delineation, found in a quotation from Kitb Btanjal and based on


the empirical differentiation between oral and written information, refers to
al-Brns methodological purpose for quoting this passage. He states: Let
us quote extracts on this subject from their books to avoid the danger of our
account being based solely upon hearsay,80 thus revealing his insistence upon
the importance of the written word, be it in the form of translated Sanskrit or
Greek sources.
The quoted passage, therefore, is an immediate manifestation of al-Brns
methodological purpose of basing his account81 of Hindu religious doctrine
on primary sources. More interestingly, it also seems to inform and corroborate
his methodology so that what at first appears to be a clear distinction between
quoter and quoted, theory and practice, blurs as the quotation seems actually
to voice al-Brns declared theoretical approach rather than simply to affirm
it.
Thus al-Brns succinctly expressed desire to avoid complete reliance in his
account on oral traditions, that which is heard,82 is in fact explained by the
Kitb Btanjal quotation through a subtle definition of the metaphysical/phys-
ical, divine/human and temporal/pre-eternal possibilities of al-kalm83 which
is the mechanism for the transference of knowledge from textual, oral, inspira-
tional and revelatory sources:

And they transmitted their science to others by speech, thus their speech
and teaching took place in time. Since divine matters have no connection
with time, God, may He be exalted, knows and speaks in pre-eternity
to some of them [God] sent down a book, to others He opened a door for
mediation with Him, others received revelation from Him and grasped
through thought what he had granted them.84

The methods listed here may all be considered authentic accounts not only
within the Hindu philosophical tradition from which they are derived and

80 wa li-nrida f dhlika shayan min kutubihim liall takna ikyatun kal-shayi l-mas-
mi faqa (Hind, p. 20, l. 8).
81 al-ikya.
82 al-shayu l-masmu (Hind, p. 20, l. 9).
83 Speech.
84 wa naqal bil-kalmi ulmahum il ghayrihim fa-kalmuhum wa ifdatuhum f zamnin,
wa idh laysa lil-umri l-ilhiyyati bil-zamni ittilun fallhu subnahu limun mutakal-
limun f l-azali faminhum man alq ilayhi kitban, wa minhum man fataa liwsiatin
ilayhi bban, wa minhum man aw ilayhi fanla bil-fikri m afa alayhi (Hind, p. 21, l. 4).
50 chapter 2

translated but also evidently for al-Brn. Of course, it is possible to argue that
since the quoted passage is taken from al-Brns translation of the Yoga-Stra
of Patajali his theoretical and methodological interpretations would naturally
be reflected in Kitb Btanjal. This is true but only to an extent given Kitb
Btanjals strong connection in terms of subject matter with the equivalent
Stras, the commentary on them by Vysa and many comparable passages.85
The fact that the Hind is a study of a non-monotheistic religion which is
outside the sphere of heresy and heresiography gave al-Brn great room for
intellectual and philosophical manoeuvre in his academic analysis of Hindu
philosophy and his interaction with Hindu doctrines and Sanskrit texts. Given
this context, that a text such as the Yoga-Stra or a commentator such as
Vysa might influence al-Brns thinking is just as much a possibility, in an
expository treatise such as the Hind, as the possibility of his influence governing
the interpretative translation of Kitb Btanjal. A refreshing view on this matter
was proposed by Franz Rosenthal in his article, On Some Epistemological
and Methodological Presuppositions of al-Brn,86 who argues that ideas
to be found in the Yogastra entered Brns own epistemological thinking.
Normally, it would seem prudent for us to see in Brn more the reporter of
Indian philosophical speculation than the follower of it. However, his receptive
mind was often deeply impressed by the foreign ideas he studied, and they were
incorporated into his own thought patterns.
Furthermore, Divine knowledge is described in the quotation from Kitb
Btanjal in terms that would be easily accessible to al-Brns Muslim readers
without theological distortion to the relevant subject matter in the Yoga-Stra:

The questioner said: where does He have this knowledge from? Patajali
answered: His knowledge is eternally unchanged, and given that He is
never ignorant then His Self knows and does not acquire knowledge
which He did not have. As He says in the Veda which he revealed to
Brahm: Praise and extol the One who spoke in the Veda and existed
before the Veda.87

85 The current passage under consideration in the Hind, as has already been shown, is the
almost exact equivalent of questions 1418 in Kitb Btanjal and reflects Stras i. 2427 of
the Yoga-Stra of Patajali in addition to a commentary on them by Vysa.
86 Rosenthal, F., On Some Epistemological and Methodological Presuppositions of al-Br-
n, in A. Sayili, (ed.), Beyrunye Armaan. Ankara, 1974, pp. 145167.
87 qla l-silu: fa min ayna lahu hdh l-ilmi? qla l-mujbu: ilmuhu al lihi f l-azali,
wa idh lam yajhal qa fadhtuhu limatun lam taktasib ilman lam yakun lahu, kam qla
f bdh lladh anzalahu al brham: amid wamda man takallama bi-bdh wa kna
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 51

Thus, the reference here to the unchanging and eternal nature of Gods
Self and knowledge and His imparting of this knowledge through revelation
in scripture is not an Islamisation of Hindu theological doctrine. Rather, it
is a contextualised translation which, nevertheless, reflects the core tenets
described by Vysa in his commentary at this point. The eternally unchanged
nature of Gods knowledge and, therefore, of His Self,88 may reflect Vysas idea
of the perpetual superiority of vara on account of the excellence of His self.89
That God reveals the Veda, which convey His divine knowledge through
His own words, to Brahm according to the Hind,90 is a close explanatory par-
allel of Vysas reference to The stras [Hindu scriptures] and their sublime
wisdom which are present in the mind of the vara and His pre-eminence are
eternally related to each other. Whereas Vysa seeks to explain the sublime
wisdom and genuineness of sacred scriptures, stras, through the subtle
concept of their real presence as an eternal part of the vara, for al-Brn the
physical means by which this sublime wisdom and eternal pre-eminence is
conveyed to humanity is explained in the more comprehensible and definite
terms of the divine word revealed in sacred scripture.91 Al-Brn conceives of
no scope for vacillation regarding the relationship between the pre-eternity of

qabla bdh (Hind, p. 21, l. 9). Cf. also Kitb Btanjal p. 175, l. 14. With regard to vara as
the author of the Veda cf. Vysas commentary on Stra i. 24, The question, therefore,
arises whether this perpetual superiority of vara on account of the excellence of His self
is something of which there is proof or is it something without any proof? The reply is
The Sacred books are its proof. What is the proof of the genuineness of the scriptures?
Their genuineness is based on supreme wisdom. The stras [Hindu scriptures] and their
sublime wisdom which are present in the mind of the vara and His pre-eminence are
eternally related to each other.
88 ilmuhu al lihi f l-azali, wa idh lam yajhal qa fadhtuhu limatun lam taktasib ilman
lam yakun lahu (Hind, p. 21, l. 10), His knowledge is eternally unchanged, and given that
He is never ignorant then His Self knows and does not acquire knowledge which He did
not have.
89 Vysas commentary on Stra i. 24.
90 kam qla f bdh lladh anzalahu al brham: amid wamda man takallama bibdh
wa kna qabla bdh (Hind, p. 21, l. 11), As He says in the Veda which he revealed to Brahm:
Praise and extol the One who spoke in the Veda and existed before the Veda.
91 Al-Brns version is more generally paralleled by Vysas commentary on Stra i. 27, The
Sacred Word Designating Him Is Pranava Or The Mystic Syllable Om, which discusses the
nature and implications of the divine words in sacred scripture: In other creations too
convention dependent on the relationship between the denoting words and the object
denoted has been in use. Sages, who know the stras, say that on account of similarity of
usage, the relationship between a word and the object indicated by it is eternal.
52 chapter 2

God and the eternal wisdom of His words as revealed in the Veda.92 In this way
al-Brn ensures a doctrinal clarity in his exposition which is characteristic of
the commentarial and elucidative subtext of the Hind. It is a subtext which even
broaches or (more likely given their precedence to the Hind) is necessitated by
the structure and terminology of exemplifying passages, such as the above from
the Yoga-Stra of Patajali, quoted in his translation.
The final portion of the corroborative quotation from Kitb Btanjal focuses
on the existence and worship of God and his susceptibility to the human senses,
all of which factors may have potentially been suggested in al-Brns opening
statement on Hindu theological doctrine:93

The questioner said: how can you worship Him who cannot be sensed?
Patajali answered: calling Him establishes His existence because an
object always refers to something and a name is always given to some-
thing which can be named. Even if He eludes the senses so that they
cannot perceive Him, nevertheless the soul cognises Him and thought
comprehends His attributes. This is how one worships Him in a pure man-
ner and happiness is achieved by persevering in this.94

The source of the ontological argument described here by al-Brn mainly


relies upon Yoga-Stra i. 27 and Vysas commentary on it which not only refers
to the mystic syllable om as the sacred designation of God95 but also expands
on the relationship of appellation with necessary existence in figurative and
semantic terms. This is reflected here by al-Brn, and is reminiscent of those
later formulations by St. Anselm in the mediaeval European Christian tradi-

92 amid wamda man takallama bibdh wa kna qabla bdh (Hind, p. 21, l. 11), Praise and
extol the One who spoke in the Veda and existed before the Veda.
93 al-fardu f malaktihi ani l-addi wal-anddi l yushbihu shayan wa l yushbihuhu
shayun (Hind, p. 20, l. 7), alone in His kingdom without likeness or unlikeness, resem-
bling nothing and nothing resembling Him.
94 qla l-silu: kayfa tabuda man lam yuliqhu l-issu? qla l-mujbu: tasmiyatuhu tuthbitu
inniyyatahu fal-khabaru l yaknu ill an shayin wal-ismu l yaknu ill li-musamman,
wahuwa wa in ghba ani l-awssi fa-lam tudrikhu faqad aqalathu l-nafsu wa aat
biiftihi l-fikratu wa hdhihi hiya ibdatuhu l-khliatu wa bil-muwabati alayh
yunlu l-sadatu (Hind, p. 21, l. 12). Cf. Kitb Btanjal p. 175, l. 7, hdhihi hiya ibdatuhu
l-khliatu wa bimuwalatih wa bil-muwaba alayh yaulu m yaulu bil-tawdi
l-mutaqaddimi dhikruhu, this is how one worships Him in a pure manner and by dili-
gently persevering in this the result of the aforementioned habituation is achieved.
95 Again cf. Stra i. 27, The Sacred Word Designating Him Is Pranava Or The Mystic Syllable
Om.
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 53

tion.96 However, whereas al-Brn discusses the necessary existence of God in


semantic terms only Vysas commentary includes an additional figurative ele-
ment to further illustrate the point: vara is indicated by the mystic syllable.
Is this relationship a matter of convention or is it always necessarily existing
between the lamp and the light? The relationship between a word and its object
is always there, and the convention in reference to vara expresses what is
inherent in Him.97 The consequent illustration using a father/son analogy, For
example, the relationship between the father and son exists and is indicated by
the language this is that persons father, that is this persons son, is comparable
in its subject matter and semantic argumentation with al-Brns theological
discussion outlining the differences in denominating God in Arabic, Hebrew
and Syriac as discussed in the third chapter of the Hind.98
In this further example of al-Brns reliance upon the Yoga-Stra, it is pos-
sible to reach beyond its use by him as a formative source for his interpretation
of Hindu psychology. Indeed, one can also consider the methodological impli-
cations of the transformation of the analogical and semantic content of Vysas
commentary on Stra i. 27 for a later and contextually different theological dis-
cussion about denominating God in the monotheistic and non-monotheistic
religions and in their respective languages.

96 The ontological argument, which proceeds not from the world to its Creator but from
the idea of God to the reality of God, was first clearly formulated in Christendom by
St. Anselm (1033/341109) in his Proslogion (10771078). Anselm began with the concept
of God as that than which nothing greater can be conceived (aliquid quo nihil majus
cogitari possit). To think of such a being as existing only in thought and not also in reality
involves a contradiction. For an x that lacks real existence is not that than which no greater
can be conceived. A yet greater being would be x with the further attribute of existence.
Thus the unsurpassably perfect being must exist, otherwise it would not be unsurpassably
perfect.
97 Vysas commentary on Stra i. 27.
98 wa hkadh ismu l-ubwwati wal-bunwwati fa-inna l-islma l yasmau bihim idhi
l-waladu wal-ibnu f l-arabiyyati mutaqrib l-man wa m wara l-waladi mina l-
wlidayni wal-wildati manfyyun an man l-rubbiyyati wa qad ulima m alayhi
l-nar min dhlika att anna man l yaqlu bil-bi wal-ibni fahuwa khrijun an jum-
lati millatihim wa laysati l-nar al hdh waduh wa lkinna l-yahda tashrakuh
(Hind, p. 28, l. 11). It is the same with the words father and son, for Islam does not permit
their use since the words child and son in Arabic are close in meaning and the fact of
parents and birth which the word son implies negates concepts of divinity [for the word
son] and this [usage] is known among the Christians to the extent that he who does
not speak of the father and the son is [considered] outside of their religious community
the Christians are not alone in this [usage] for the Jews share in it .
54 chapter 2

Thus what appears to be an unrelated and simple comparison of semantic


differences and a discussion of the degree of anthropomorphism in their use
takes on a more subtle complexion. This is the result of the Hindu background
of the treatise and the use not only of Kitb Btanjal but also Vysas com-
mentary of the Yoga-Stra as an influential source of information and imagery
with which to frame similar arguments in the Hind. As a result, the possibil-
ity emerges that al-Brns comparative assessment of religions in the Hind is
more than a demonstrative exercise with little bearing upon the Hindu back-
ground of the work. A small example such as this further suggests that the text
and structure of the Hind may have been affected by the content and form of
those seminal primary sources which al-Brn favours and to whose philoso-
phy he most inclines.
The second part of Patajalis answer in the above quotation from Kitb
Btanjal, stresses the importance of the soul as a vehicle for the perception
of God, who is understood to be super-sensory, and the essential function of
human thought which conceives of His attributes, although He is inaccessi-
ble to the senses, so that they do not perceive Him, the soul cognizes Him and
thought comprehends His attributes.99
It is the souls perception of God with the minds comprehension of His
attributes that combine as the purest form of worship and through the perse-
verance of which felicity is achieved, this is the pure manner of worshipping
Him and by persevering in it happiness is achieved.100 The importance of this
passage taken from Kitb Btanjal lies in its definition of the souls theologi-
cal function in relation to the mind, the engine of thought, and their necessary
coexistence as the primary device for the worship of God and the attainment
thereby, through repetition or perseverance, of true happiness (beatitude). The
significance of what is being described here lies in the interdependence of the

99 wa huwa wa in ghba an l-awssi falam tudrikhu faqad aqalathu l-nafsu wa aat


biiftihi l-fikratu (Hind, p. 21, l. 14).
100 wa hdhihi ibdatuhu l-khliatu wa bil-muwabati alayh yunlu l-sadatu (Hind,
p. 21, l. 15). Cf. Kitb Btanjal p. 175, l. 7, hdhihi hiya ibdatuhu l-khliatu wa bimuwa-
latih wa bil-muwaba alayh yaulu m yaulu bil-tawdi l-mutaqaddimi dhikruhu,
This is how one worships Him in a pure manner and by diligently persevering in this the
result of the aforementioned habituation is achieved.
For al-muwaba/al-muwala, cf. Stra i. 28 and Vysas commentary on it, Yogins
having understood the relationship between the verbal symbol and the thing expressed
will Repeat It And Contemplate Upon Its Meaning. Repetition of the symbol and con-
templation on its subject-the vara-bring one-pointedness to the mind of the Yogin who
is engaged in repeating the symbol and contemplating on its meaning.
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 55

human soul and the human mind: both are not only necessary for the percep-
tion of God and the comprehension of His attributes but also as a modus for
worshipping Him and attaining happiness. Since thought, the product of the
human mind,101 is the highest form of bodily worship it follows that the souls
dependence upon it for a fuller comprehension of Gods attributes and for the
attainment of both bodily and spiritual happiness is an indication of its require-
ment of the body for its own true advancement and fulfilment.
This quotation, then, holds within its theological statement insight into
the integral relationship of the soul with the body which, as represented by
thought, is the product of the human mind and the material bodys most
refined state. It is a concept which al-Brn would almost certainly not have
included unwittingly at the outset of the Hind since it comprises the first
important integrated notion that describes Hindu psychology (the relationship
between the mind and the soul) and theology (the relationship between God
and man) set within the empirical and religious framework of perception,
reflection and worship.

6 Passage 2: The Theological Interface between Kitb Btanjal and


the Citations from the Book Referred to as gt

The second passage that al-Brn quotes in elucidating his initial statement
regarding the nature of Hindu theological belief is drawn from an as yet uniden-
tified version of the Bhagavadgt. According to al-Brn, the book gt is part
of the book bhrata, presumably the Mahbhrata102 which is never referred

101 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 92), The citta [mind] itself is not sentient. Only purua [soul] or
pure consciousness is Self-luminous and shines forth unalloyed and unabated. Its light
can be understood as being reflected or mirrored in insentient prakrti [matter] (i.e., in
the human mind), creating various self-reflective stages of the mind In the Yoga-Stra
the term citta can refer to these three manifest principles (tattvas) [buddhi, ahamkra, and
manas] of prakrti, namely: the intellect, sense of self, and mind-organ respectively. Citta
can be viewed as the aggregate of the cognitive, volitional, affective activities, processes,
and functions of human consciousness, that is, it consists of a grasping, intentional, and
volitional consciousness, and functions as the locus of empirical selfhood.
102 The Mahbhrata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of India, valued for its high literary
merit and its religious inspiration. The Mahbhrata consists of a mass of legendary
and didactic material surrounding a central heroic narrative that tells of the struggle for
supremacy between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Together with
the second major epic, the Ramayana, Romance of Rama, it is an important source of
information about the evolution of Hinduism during the period about 400 bce200 ce.
56 chapter 2

to by this name in the Hind, and includes a conversation between Vsudeva103


and Arjuna,104 In the book gt which is part of the book bhrata there is the
conversation between bsdiy and rjun.105
In contrast to the differences between the Yoga-Stra of Patajali and Kitb
Btanjal which reflect an interpretative translation and commentarial infusion
rather than basic structural incongruence in subject matter, a great many quo-
tations from the gt which al-Brn gives in the Hind could not have been
derived or associated with the present Sanskrit text of the Bhagavadgt. The
possibility exists, of course, that whereas al-Brn combined in his Kitb Btan-
jal both an interpretative translation of the Yoga-Stra as well as a number of
as yet unidentified Sanskrit commentaries upon it, in his translation of what
he describes as the gt there is a rendering of an unidentified commentary of
the Bhagavadgt instead of the original version with which we are familiar.
The text of the extracts quoted in the Hind does not betray the expansive
qualities of a commentary but, on the contrary, is terse, precise and direct
without the liberal use of analogy characteristic of a commentary. These facts
led Sachau to speculate that, Alberuni seems to have used an edition of the
Bhagavad-Gt totally different from the one which we know, and which also

Authorship of the poem is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vysa, although it is more
likely that he compiled existing material. The traditional date for the war that is the central
event of the Mahbhrata is 1302 bce, but most historians prefer a later date. The poem
reached its present form about 400 ce.
103 Vsudeva in Hindu mythology is the patronymic of Krishna, who, according to one tradi-
tion, was a son of Vsudeva. The worshipers of Vsudeva, or Krishna, formed one of the
earliest theistic devotional movements within Hinduism. When they merged with other
groups, namely the Bhagavata, they represented the beginnings of modern Vaisnavism, or
worship of Lord Vishnu. A significant second century bce inscription at Besnagar, near
Vidisha (Bhilsa), Madhya Pradesh, refers to a column topped by a figure of Garuda (the
emblem or mount of Lord Vishnu), erected in honour of Vsudeva by the Indo-Greek
ambassador Heliodorus, who termed himself a Bhagavata. Though, in the earliest parts
of the Mahbhrata, the divinity of Krishna appears to be still open to doubt, by the time
of the writing of the Bhagavadgt (first or second century ce), Vsudeva-Krishna was
clearly identified with the Vedic god Vishnu.
104 Arjuna is one of the five Pandava brothers, who are the heroes of the Indian epic the
Mahbhrata. Arjunas hesitation before a battle became the occasion for his friend and
charioteer, the god Krishna, to deliver a discourse on duty, or the right course of human
action. These verses, which are in the form of a quasi-dialogue between Krishna and
Arjuna, are collectively known as the Bhagavadgt.
105 wa f kitbi gt wa huwa juzun min kitbi bhrata fm jar bayna bsdiy wa bayna
rjun (Hind, p. 21, l. 17).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 57

in India seems to be the only one known. It must have been more ancient,
because the notorious Yoga elements are not found in it, and these have been
recognised by modern interpreters as interpolations of a later time. Secondly,
it must have been more complete, because it exhibits a number of sentences
which are not found in the Bhagavad-Gt.106 Sachau, however, seems not to
consider the possibility that al-Brn may have translated the text of the gt
in his possession according to his own understanding of it or based on the
interpretation of those gurus who often aided him and would have been famil-
iar with the primary religious texts as well as their commentaries. Al-Brn
states:

The paths into this subject have wearied me because of my enthusiasm


[for it] in which I am unique in my day and my unstinting effort concern-
ing it [this subject] in collecting their [the Hindus] books from suspected
locations and in summoning those [scholars] who understood them [or:
who could provide guidance about them] from their hiding holes.107

It is apparent from the insights provided in the Hind through al-Brns


account of Hindu doctrine and the crucial relationship between the Sanskrit
texts which he had acquired and the gurus on whom he had relied for their
transcription, translation and explanation, that the gt passages found in the
Hind may be drawn directly from these sources. Such a likelihood is, perhaps,
more feasible than al-Brns basing these passages on a Bhagavad-Gt totally
different from the one which we know as Sachau suggested. That the quota-
tions in the Hind are more complete because they exhibit a number of sen-
tences which are not found in the Bhagavad-Gt, does not necessarily imply a
more ancient version of the Bhagavadgt. An earlier version may have been
less verbose and less immediately comprehensible rather than more so. This
completeness which is, nevertheless, terse and well worded is, possibly, more
in keeping with a memorised version which al-Brn, consequently, distilled
under his own auspices and recorded in words that reflected the context into
which they were inserted.
Sachaus belief about the gt passages in the Hind suggests that they are
free from Yoga elements that constitute later interpolations and may be dif-
ferentiated from the original fabric of the text. It is, indeed, the case that the

106 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. ii: 265).


107 wa laqad ayatn l-madkhilu fhi maa ir lladh tafarradtu bihi f ayym wa badhl
l-mumkini ghayra shain alayhi f jami kutubihim mina l-manni wastiri man
yahtad lah mina l-makmini (Hind, p. 18, l. 5).
58 chapter 2

Bhagavadgt, a poem which consists of 700 Sanskrit verses divided into 18


chapters, is of a later date than the major parts of the Mahbhrata and was
probably written in the first or second century ce, and that it seems skilfully
to combine the philosophical systems of Kapila and Patajali within a wider
admixture of prevailing Brhmanical doctrines.108 Yet Sachaus conclusion that
the gt passages in the Hind lack Yoga elements seems to depend on his
premise that these quotations derive from a more ancient version of the Bha-
gavadgt. This assumption becomes even more questionable in light of the
Bhagavadgts own description of yoga as already being ancient (purtana).109
Moreover, al-Brns elucidative quotation from his gt comes in the wake of
a passage taken from Kitb Btanjal based upon the same theme. According
to al-Brn the theological conversation in his gt about the nature of God
and man and the relationship between them takes place between bsdiy and
rjun, Vsudeva and Arjuna:

The conversation between Vsudeva and Arjuna: I am everything, with-


out a beginning through birth or an end through death. My action is
not motivated by reward and I do not specifically belong to one class to
the exclusion of another because of friendship or enmity. I have given to
each of My creatures that which suffices for its function. He who knows
this quality of Mine or emulates Me by removing desire from action, his
bondage is loosened and his salvation and freedom is facilitated.110

In the Bhagavadgt the dialogue takes place on the battlefield, just as the great
war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas is about to begin. The two armies
stand opposing each other, and, on seeing many of his friends and kinsmen
among those lined up on the other side, Prince Arjuna hesitates. He considers
whether it would be better to throw down his arms and allow himself to be
slain by the enemy rather than to engage in a just, but cruel, war. He is recalled
to his sense of duty as a warrior by Krishna, who points out to him that the
higher way is the dispassionate discharge of his duty, performed with faith in
God, and without selfish concern for personal triumph or gain.

108 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. ii: 264).


109 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 7).
110 fm jar bayna bsdiy wa bayna rjun: inn an l-kullu min ghayri mabdain biwil-
datin aw muntahan biwaftin, l aqidu bifil mukftin wa l akhtau biabaqatin dna
ukhr liadqatin aw adwatin, qad aaytu kil min khalq jatahu f filihi, faman arafan
bihdhihi l-ifati wa tashabbaha b f ibdi l-ami ani l-amali inalla withquhu wa
sahula khaluhu wa itquhu (Hind, p. 21, l. 18).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 59

The Bhagavadgt goes far beyond the ethical question with which it begins,
to consider the nature of God and the means by which man can know Him.
The greatness of the scripture lies in its description of both the end and the
means. It synopsises the religious thought and experience of India through the
ages. Because it is a predominantly theistic work, it often describes the ultimate
reality as a personal god, identified with Krishna. However, it frequently refers
to the supreme as the immanent spirit, as the transcendent absolute, and,
finally, as the state of ones own awakened soul. The three paths of the Hindu
religious tradition leading to mystic union with God are described as different
aspects of a single approach.
This broad theistic consideration of the nature of God is certainly borne out
in the first quotation from the gt which is given in the Hind when Vsudeva
states, I am everything, without a beginning through birth or an end through
death.111 Just as interestingly, however, is the description of the gradual percep-
tion of God by an individual coupled with a parallel growth in his understand-
ing and self-realisation. Indeed there appears to be a theological resemblance
between this quotation and the Bhagavadgt without there being direct refer-
ence to a particular verse or passage:112

You would find them very far from knowing Him because God is not
apparent to everyone so that they might perceive Him with their senses,
and for this reason they are ignorant of Him. Some do not pass beyond
the senses, and some of them who do so stop at the knowledge of innate
characteristics. They do not know that above these is He who does not

111 inn an l-kullu min ghayri mabdain biwildatin aw muntahan biwaftin (Hind, p. 21, l. 18).
112 Cf. Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. ii: 265), The quotations from the Gt (or Song) may be divided
into three classes:(1.) Such as exhibit a close relationship with certain passages in the
Bhagavad-Gt. Parts of sentences are here and there almost identical, but nowhere whole
sentences (2.) Such as show a certain similarity, more in the ideas expressed than in the
wording, with passages in the Bhagavad-Gt (3.) Such as cannot be compared, either in
idea or in wording, with any passage in the Bhagavad-Gt. A slightly different schemati-
sation of the gt passages to be found in the Hind and which broadly encompasses four
classes, is offered by A. Sharma (1983: 4), (1.) quotations which seem to display an identi-
fiable degree of literal as well as ideological correspondence with the present text of the
Bhagavadgt; (2.) quotations which seem to display an ideological rather than a literal
correspondence with the present text of the Bhagavadgt; (3.) quotations which seem
to display a literal rather than an ideological correspondence with the Bhagavadgt as
we know it; and (4.) quotations which seem to display neither a literal nor an ideological
correspondence with the Bhagavadgt as we know it.
60 chapter 2

give birth nor is born, and that nobodys knowledge is able to comprehend
His true113 essence whilst His knowledge comprehends everything.114

According to A. Sharma115 the general tenor of this passage reflects several doc-
trines of the Bhagavadgt reasonably well.116 This is not of course to ignore
the equally detectable Quranic undertones throughout in such phrases as for
example He who does not give birth nor is born.117 Yet it does not seem pos-
sible to identify the relevant verse or verse parts for this particular quotation
from the Bhagavadgt. Al-Brn quotes Vsudeva as saying I am everything
[the universe].118 This may be compared to Arjuna who states in the Bha-
gavadgt that you, meaning Krishna, are the universe when he addresses Him
as viamrte. Krishna, however, never describes Himself directly as such in the
Bhagavadgt. Rather, he tells Arjuna that I have shown you the universal, infi-
nite, primal119 form but not that he is that form. In an earlier passage Krishna
says, By Me is pervaded all this / Universe, by Me is the form of the unmani-
fest.120 He further adds, All things rest in Me, / And I do not rest in them.
It is apparent then that this first passage quoted by al-Brn from his version
of the gt is a case of theological rather than literal correspondence, for the
nearest parallel to the statement by Vsudeva saying I am everything, may be
found in Bhagavadgt vii. 19 in the statement, vsudeva sarvam iti, Vsudeva
is all. Here, again, the statement stands alone, stripped of the elucidative
phrase, without a beginning through birth or an end through death.121 It is
possible, however, to tentatively suggest a theological parallel to the statement,
My action is not motivated by reward,122 in the Bhagavadgt iii. 22, For Me,
son of Prth, there is nothing to be done / In the three worlds whatsoever, /

113 biayn as an alternative reading to bighayr, cf. Hind, p. 22, l. 20.


114 wajadtahum min marifatihi f maknin saqin lianna llha laysa bihirin likulli aadin
yudrikuhu biawsihi falidhlika jahalhu; faminhum man lam yatajwaz fhi l-massti,
wa minhum man idh tajwazah waqafa inda l-mabti, wa lam yarif anna fawqah
man lam yalid wa lam ylad wa lam yui biayni inniyyatihi ilmu aadin wa huwa l-muu
bikulli shayin ilman (Hind, p. 22, l. 5).
115 Sharma, A., (1983).
116 Cf. Edgerton, F., The Bhagavadgt. New York: Harper and Row, 1964, Ch. vi, passim.
Consequent references to the Bhagavadgt refer to this version.
117 Qurn 112:3.
118 inn an l-kullu, (Hind, p. 21, l. 18).
119 Edgerton, F., (1964: 60).
120 Edgerton, F., (1964: 46).
121 min ghayri mabdain biwildatin aw muntahan biwaftin (Hind, p. 21, l. 18).
122 l aqidu bifil mukftan (Hind, p. 21, l. 19).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 61

Nothing unattained to be attained; /And yet I still continue in action. The gt


passage in the Hind continues with, I do not specifically belong to one class
to the exclusion of another because of friendship or enmity,123 which may
represent a paraphrase of Bhagavadgt ix. 29:124 All beings I regard alike; not
one is hateful to me or beloved.125
The following sentence, though, is difficult to identify even as a broad reflec-
tion of a passage in the Bhagavadgt, I have given to each of My creatures that
which suffices for its function.126 It is possible, nevertheless, to suggest Bha-
gavadgt iv. 13 in which Krishna declares, The four-caste system was created
by Me,127 since it shares a common vision of the systematisation and regulated
function of living things determined by God. The final line of the gt passage
quoted by al-Brn is even less identifiable: He who knows this quality of Mine
or emulates Me by removing desire from action, his bondage is loosened and
his salvation and freedom is facilitated.128 A. Sharma proposes Bhagavadgt
iv. 14 as its tentative source, particularly because the initial remark There-
fore whoever knows me129 resembles iti mm yobhijnti (iv. 14c) and the
medial remark his fetters will be loosened130 resembles karmabhir na sa bad-
hyate (iv. 14d).131 Sharma concludes that The rest of the sentence looks like
Albrns extended comment on the same idea, and that, furthermore, The
portion of the sentence keeping desire apart from his action132 closely follows
na me karmaphale sprh (iv. 14b). The rest of the content of the passage, again,
seems to be Albrns own exegetical interpolation-so to say.133
A comparison of this sort is useful in that it outlines the nature of the rela-
tionship between the gt passage quoted by al-Brn and the Bhagavadgt as
less than congruent but not completely divorced. What is, however, ignored by
such a comparison is not only the possible influence of an earlier textual ver-
sion of the Bhagavadgt or an early composite commentary upon it but also

123 l akhtau biabaqatin dna ukhr liadqatin aw adwatin (Hind, p. 21, l. 19).
124 Cf. Hill, D.P., The Bhagavadgt. Oxford University Press, 1969.
125 samoham sarvabhteu na me dveyosti na priya.
126 qad aaytu kil min khalq jatahu f filihi (Hind, p. 22, l. 1).
127 Edgerton, F., (1964: 24).
128 faman arafan bihdhihi l-ifati wa tashabbaha b f ibdi l-ami ani l-amali inalla
withquhu wa sahula khaluhu wa itquhu (Hind, p. 22, l. 2).
129 For this translation cf. Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: 29).
130 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: 29).
131 Sharma, A., (1983: 59).
132 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. i: 29).
133 Sharma, A., (1983: 59).
62 chapter 2

the importance of the oral dimension and its role in al-Brns reception of a
text as well as its explanation. More important, what is also not considered by
such a focused comparison is the crucial interpretative influence of al-Brn
as well as the epistemological drive of the religious context in which this now
Arabic passage is quoted in the Hind.
Thus, this gt passage, which seems to derive from various sections of the
Bhagavadgt, is intended to be an elucidation and a further development
of the Hindu belief in God and His perception by the soul broached by al-
Brns initial statement as discussed in the second chapter of the Hind and
first explored in the quotation from his Kitb Btanjal. This quotation134 is
determinative in the sense that it is a representation of one continuous, inte-
grated passage from the Yoga-Stra of Patajali. In contrast, the following pas-
sage from the gt, intended to maintain thematic continuity and development,
is drawn from a variety of locations in the present Bhagavadgt. Not only, then,
does Kitb Btanjal seem to shape al-Brns understanding of Hindu theolog-
ical doctrines in this second chapter of the Hind but its influence is also sensed
in the selection of passages from other textual sources marshalled to match its
own methodological purpose. Thus, for example, the statement by Arjuna, I
am everything, without a beginning through birth or an end through death,135
is a theological development in al-Brns depiction of the doctrinal frame-
work he is constructing. It is a development borne out of the preceding Kitb
Btanjal quotation in which God is described as, above unlikeness which
is detestable and likeness which is desirable and who in Himself is eternally
knowing.136
The ultimate instigation for the development of the theological concepts
explored in these two interlinked quotations lies in the common denominator
to be found in al-Brns opening statement. This definition outlines Hindu
theological tenets delineating the nature of God:

The belief of the Hindus in God, may He be exalted, is that He is the


eternal one with neither beginning nor end, who is free in His actions,
omnipotent, all wise, living and life giving, ruling and preserving.137

134 Hind, p. 22, l. 5, cited above.


135 inn an l-kullu min ghayri mabdain biwildatin aw muntahan biwaftin (Hind, p. 21, l. 18).
136 litalhi ani l-addi l-makrhati wal-anddi l-mabbati wal-limi bidhtihi sarma-
dan (Hind, p. 20, l. 11).
137 wa itiqdu l-hindi f llhi subnahu annahu l-widu l-azal min ghayri ibtidin wa
l intihin al-mukhtru f filihi l-qdiru l-akmu l-ayyu l-muy l-mudabbiru l-mubq
(Hind, p. 20, l. 5).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 63

A second example which focuses upon the qualities of God initially indi-
cated by al-Brn may be the gradual definition of the idea that He, is free
in His actions.138 This particular quality is given more specific detail in Pata-
jalis initial response in the Kitb Btanjal excerpt, He is the one who through
His uniqueness and oneness is in no need of action in order to reward it .139
It is a thought that is further articulated through the opening words of Arjuna
in the consequent gt citation, I am everything, without a beginning through
birth or an end through death. My action is not motivated by reward.140
A final example may be provided by the evolution of a subject connected
to the one broached here regarding the nature of Gods action, namely, human
perception and worship of God through practise or ascesis. The topic is once
again concisely expressed at the outset by al-Brn who differentiates between
an educated elite141 whose nature strives for reason and seeks to verify princi-
ples,142 and the masses143 whose nature keeps them at the level of the senses,
and who are satisfied with what is derived without bothering with accuracy
especially in areas where there is a difference of views and opinions.144 This
differentiation functions as an epistemological backdrop for a gradually evolv-
ing evaluation of the nature and practice of humanitys relationship with God,
based upon the overlaying of similar subject matter drawn from those text-
based sources which al-Brn principally relies upon for his methodology.
It is in this light that the parallelisms to be found in the citations from Kitb
Btanjal and al-Brns gt may be best understood. Thus, for instance, the
following gt citation seems to qualify the subject matter with which al-Brn
initiates the chapter,145 since it is affiliated with it both structurally and termi-
nologically.146 The structural parallel lies in a fuller and more definite grada-
tion of human perception from the senses to that knowledge which transcends

138 al-mukhtru f filihi (Hind, p. 20, l. 5).


139 huwa l-mustaghn bi-awwaliyyatihi wa wadniyyatihi an filin limukftin alayhi ,
(Hind, p. 20, l. 9).
140 inn an l-kullu min ghayri mabdain biwildatin aw muntahan biwaftin, l aqudu bifil
mukftan (Hind, p. 21, l. 18).
141 al-kha (Hind, p. 20, l. 3).
142 yunziu l-maqla wa yaqidu l-taqqa f l-uli (Hind, p. 20, l. 3).
143 al-mma (Hind, p. 20, l. 2).
144 ibu l-mmati yaqifu inda l-massi wa yaqtaniu bil-furi wa l yarmu l-tadqqa wa
khatan fm ftannat fh l-ru wa lam yattafiq alayhi l-ahwu (Hind, p. 20, l. 3).
145 Cf. Hind, p. 20, l. 2, namely, the differentiation of the educated elite and the masses on the
basis of a qualitative distinction between intellectual and sense perception.
146 Cf. Hind, p. 22, l. 6.
64 chapter 2

them, the most immediate of which is the knowledge of innate characteristics.


The language used to express these ideas shares not only specific terminology
such as al-mass/al-masst147 but also phraseology that articulates equiva-
lent concepts, the nature of the masses keeps them at the level of the senses
/ and some of them who do so stop at the knowledge of innate characteris-
tics.148
According to A. Sharmas schematisation of the gt passages in the Hind,
the first half of this quotation is thought to be a case of ideological rather than
literal correspondence, while the second half displays, a minimal literal and
ideological correspondence with the Bhagavadgt as we know it; or none at
all.149 The section which Sharma refers to as bearing no family relationship to
the Bhagavadgt as we know it150 begins with Further, Vsudeva speaks in the
same book151 and concludes with the passage: they do not know that above
these is He who does not give birth nor is born, and that nobodys knowledge
is able to comprehend His true essence whilst His knowledge comprehends
everything.152 In the course of this analysis it has become clear that the quo-
tations are shaped as much by the structure and the dynamic of the chapter,
driven by al-Brns illustrative intent, as by the primary sources themselves,
whether identifiable or obscure. The interconnectedness of this excerpt with
previously expressed theological ideas cited from different texts suggests an
intellectual, synthetic process devised by al-Brn. It is one which supersedes
any internal dynamic imported with these quotations but, one that, never-
theless, reproduces core Hindu tenets through an integrated medium that is
primarily source-based.
Thus the final line from the quoted gt passage relates closely to the open-
ing statement by al-Brn and to the consequent citation from Kitb Btanjal
in which the nature of Gods Self and the subject of human intellectual recog-

147 Hind, p. 20, l. 3 / p. 22, l. 7.


148 wa ibu l-mmati yaqifu inda l-massi / wa minhum man idh tajwazah waqafa
inda l-mabti (Hind, p. 20, l. 2 / p. 22, l. 7).
149 Sharma, A., (1983: 75).
150 Sharma, A., (1983: 75).
151 wa qla f hdh l-kitbi (Hind, p. 22, l. 4).
152 wa lam yarif anna fawqah man lam yalid wa lam ylad wa lam yui biayni inniyyatihi
ilmu aadin wa huwa l-muu bikulli shayin ilman (Hind, p. 22, l. 8). Sharma comments
on the basis of Sachaus translation of this final line, it is quite worthy of the Bhagavadgt
but is not found therein, Sharma, A., (1983: 76). He does, however, tentatively suggest there
may be, The possibility that it can be connected with Krsna knowing his past births and
Arjunas, and Arjuna not knowing them (Bhagavadgt iv. 5), Sharma, A., (1983: 76).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 65

nition of it is first broached: Calling Him establishes His existence because an


object always refers to something and a name is always given to something
which can be named. Even if He eludes the senses so that they cannot per-
ceive Him, nevertheless the soul cognises Him and thought comprehends His
attributes.153

7 Passage 3: Kitb Snk and the Discussion of Human and Divine


Action in the Hind

The final quotation in the comparative triptych which introduces the second
chapter of the Hind on the nature of Hindu belief in God is tied to the context
of the previous subject matter which centres on the essence of action and its
final source:

The Hindus differ regarding the meaning of action. Those who attribute
it to God consider Him as the universal cause, since if the basis for those
who act derives from Him then He is the cause of their action, indeed, they
are the agents of His action. Those who attribute action to other than Him
attribute it to the nearest in the chain.154

The importance of this statement lies in its crystallisation of the issues related
to the core subject of the relationship between human and divine action.
The exploration of this theme is initiated by al-Brns typification of the
Hindu God as, free in His actions,155 which finds several expansive echoes
in the subsequent source citations including that of Kitb Btanjal.156 God
then is both free to act and yet does not depend upon human action for His
own activity. Such delineation brings to light, in consequence, the function of
human worship as a form of intellectual perception which is described later in
the same Kitb Btanjal abstract:

153 tasmiyatuhu tuthbitu inniyyatuhu fal-khabaru l yaknu ill an shayin wal-ismu l


yaknu ill limusamman, wa huwa wa in ghba ani l-awssi falam tudrikhu faqad aqa-
lathu l-nafsu wa aat biiftihi l-fikratu (Hind, p. 21, l. 13).
154 wa yakhtalifu kalmu l-hindi f man l-fili faman afahu ilayhi kna min jihati l-sababi
l-aammi lianna qiwma l-filna idh kna bihi kna huwa sababa filihim fahuwa filuhu
biwasatihim, wa man afahu il ghayrihi famin jihati l-wujdi l-adn (Hind, p. 22, l. 9).
155 al-mukhtru f filihi (Hind, p. 20, l. 5).
156 Cf. Hind, p. 20, l. 9.
66 chapter 2

The questioner said: how can you worship Him who cannot be sensed?
Even if He eludes the senses so that they cannot perceive Him, neverthe-
less the soul cognises Him and thought comprehends His attributes. This
is how one worships Him in a pure manner and happiness is achieved by
persevering in this.157

Although the Kitb Snk translation by al-Brn is no longer extant, it is, nev-
ertheless, apparent from what is cited of it in the Hind that like Kitb Btanjal
the Samkhya text takes the form of a conversation between an anchorite and a
sage. Samkhya, which may be translated as Enumeration or Number, is one
of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. Samkhya adopts a consistent
dualism of the orders of matter, prakrti, and soul, or self, purua. The two are
originally separate, but in the course of evolution purua mistakenly identifies
itself with aspects of prakrti. Right knowledge consists in the ability of purua
to distinguish itself from prakrti.
Samkhya proposes belief in an infinite number of similar but separate puru-
as, selves, none superior to the other. Since purua and prakrti are sufficient
to explain the universe, the existence of a god is not hypothesised. The purua
is ubiquitous, pervasive, motionless, unchangeable, immaterial, and without
desire. Prakrti is the universal and subtle (i.e., unmanifest) matter, or nature,
and, as such, is determined by time and space. The chain of evolution begins
when purua impinges on prakrti. Now purua, which formerly was pure con-
sciousness without an object, focuses on prakrti, and out of this evolves mahat
the great one, or buddhi, spiritual awareness. Next to evolve is the individu-
alised ego consciousness ahamkra, I-maker, which imposes upon the purua
the misapprehension that the ego is the basis of the puruas objective exis-
tence. The ahamkra further divides into the five gross elements (space, air,
fire, water, earth), the five fine elements (sound, touch, sight, taste, smell), the
five organs of perception (with which to hear, touch, see, taste, smell), the five
organs of activity (with which to speak, grasp, move, procreate, evacuate), and
mind, manas.158 The universe is the result of the combinations and permu-

157 qla l-silu: kayfa tabudu man lam yuliqhu l-issu? wa in ghba ani l-awssi falam
tudrikhu faqad aqalathu l-nafsu wa aat biiftihi l-fikratu wa hdhihi hiya ibdatuhu
l-khliatu wa bil-muwabati alayh yunlu l-sadatu (Hind, p. 21, l. 12).
158 Compare this system with the following excerpt from the Yoga-Bhya (ii.19) which shows
Vysas correlation of Patajalis four-level model with the more familiar Samkhyan series
of principles of existence, tattvas, described above: Of these [four divisions], space, air,
fire, water and earth are the gross elements which are the particularisations of the unpar-
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 67

tations of these principles, to which the purua is added. Largely outside the
above system stands that of the three primal qualities of matter that are called
gunas, qualities. They make up the prakrti but gain further importance as
psycho-physiological factors. The highest prakrti is sattva, which is enlighten-
ing knowledge, illumination, and lightness; the second is rajas, which is energy,
passion, and expansiveness; the third is tamas, darkness, which is obscurity,
ignorance, and inertia. To these correspond moral models: to tamas that of the
ignorant and lazy man; to rajas that of the impulsive and passionate man; to
sattva the enlightened and serene man.
The Kitb Snk citation which concludes the opening triptych of texts pro-
vides valuable insight into what may have initially seemed an inappropriate
relegation by al-Brn of the exploration of the subject of human and divine
action from its natural place in the gt quotation where the subject of Gods
relationship with humanity is broached. The Kitb Snk citation, then, repre-
sents a discussion of various conceptions of the nature of human and divine
action but within the Samkhyan context which establishes a fundamental con-
nection between the nature of such action and what is perceived to be the
precise function of the soul vis--vis the necessarily complementary role of
matter. The first argument described by the sage is prompted by the anchorites
inquiry as to the existence of differing opinions on the subject of action and its
agent:

In the book of Snk the anchorite said: is there difference of opinion


regarding action and its agent or not? The sage said: some people say that
the soul is inactive and that matter is not alive. It is God who freely unites
and separates them, therefore He is the agent. Action to motivate them
proceeds from Him in the same way that that which is living and potent
is able to move what is dead and limp.159

ticularised subtle elements (tanmtras): sound, touch, form-precept, taste and smell. Ears,
skin, eyes, tongue and nose are the sense-organs, and mouth, hands, feet, organs of evac-
uation and generation are the five action organs. The eleventh organ, the mind-organ
(manas), is multi-objective. These are the particularisations of the unparticularised I-am-
ness, in Whicher, I., (1998: 66).
159 wa f Kitb Snk qla l-nsiku: hal ukhtulifa f l-fili wal-fili am l? Qla l-akmu:
qad qla qawmun inna l-nafsa ghayru filatin wal-mddata ghayru ayyatin fallhu l-
mustaghn huwa lladh yajmau baynahum wa yufarriqu fahuwa l-filu wal-filu wqiun
min jihatihi bitarkihim kam yuarriku l-ayyu l-qdiru l-mawta l-jiza (Hind, p. 22,
l. 12).
68 chapter 2

The first flawed opinion outlined by the sage is the notion that action is
in fact of divine provenance and is completely unrelated to the human soul
and body, neither of which may be described as agents since action does not
proceed from them. The instigation of human action as well as the union and
separation of the soul and matter, prakrti/al-mdda,160 are entirely and freely
derived from God. Thus the Samkhyan dualism which envisages purua and
prakrti as sufficient to explain the universe161 is abrogated by introducing the
existence of God as free agent.162 The second flawed opinion described by the
sage,163 seeks to establish its explanation by referring to the course of nature,
And others say that their union is brought about by nature for such is the
normal course in everything which grows and deteriorates.164 The ambiguity
in the Arabic ijtimahum their union is significant since it can refer both to
the main subject of inquiry, namely, the union of action and agent, as well as
the immediately antecedent union and separation of the soul and matter by
God, it is He who unites and separates them.165
In this way nature166 is seen to underlie both unions so that the normal pro-
cess of an agent-induced action is considered dependent upon the soul/matter
dynamic or union effectuated by nature. This second flawed explanation sup-
plants the Samkhyan vision of the purua as ubiquitous, pervasive, motionless,
unchangeable, immaterial, and without desire, and of the prakrti as the uni-
versal and subtle matter, or nature, and, as such, determined only by time and
space. For the qualities of soul and matter, their union as well as the resultant
synthesis of agent and action that proceeds from this state, are all encompassed
by the normal process of growth and decay governed by nature. Nature, there-
fore, in this second explanation, seems to assume the overarching and superin-
tending role that is attributed to God in the first: it consequently usurps those
distinguishing Samkhyan qualities of purua and prakrti for itself, and renders
the prakrti subject to its process.

160 Hind, p. 22, l. 14. In the Hind as well as Kitb Btanjal the term al-mdda appears to be
used regularly for rendering the Sanskrit term prakrti.
161 Where this duality is originally separate, with purua in the course of evolution mistakenly
identifying itself with aspects of prakrti, where right knowledge consists of the ability of
purua to distinguish itself from prakrti, and where, finally, the existence of a god is not
hypothesised.
162 allhu l-mustaghn (Hind, p. 22, l. 14).
163 al-akm (Hind, p. 22, l. 13).
164 wa qla kharn: inna ijtimahum bil-ibi fa-hkadh jarati l-datu f kulli nshin blin
(Hind, p. 22, l. 16).
165 huwa lladh yajmau baynahum wa yufarriqu (Hind, p. 22, l. 14).
166 al-ib (Hind, p. 22, l. 16).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 69

The third flawed answer presented by the sage identifies the soul as the
agent, and others say: the agent is the soul because the Vedas say that
every existing thing derives from purua.167 This particular form of emphasis
upon the soul derives from the crucial Vedic idea that emerged from a period
of intense questioning, namely, that of brahman, which tended to become
a universal soul, with which the individual soul, or tman, is merged. The
equation of tman, the self, with brahman, ultimate reality, became the basis
of Hindu metaphysics. The spread in the sixth century bce of the interrelated
concepts of the reincarnation of souls, of karma, and of the attainment of
release from this cycle by meditation rather than through sacrifice marked
the end of the Vedic period and the appearance of Hinduism. The primacy
of purua, which is in conflict with Samkhyan dualism that envisages purua
and prakrti as sufficient explanations of the universe, is illustrated, the Arabic
suggests in the third flawed answer presented by the sage, in the Rg Veda
where we are informed that the primordial Being, purua, sacrificed itself to
generate the cosmos.168
The final two flawed answers are variously related to the same universal
concept of time:

Others say that the agent is time, for the world is attached to time in
the same way that a ewe is firmly tied to a rope so that its movement is
determined by the ropes tautness and slackness; and others say action
is nothing more than recompense [karma] for something done in the
past.169

Given the reference to the Vedas, it is not unreasonable to assume that it is


the Vedic concept of time which is alluded to here. In this context time, like
God and nature in the first and second explanations, assumes and abrogates
the Samkhyan universal and dualistic roles of purua and prakrti. Thus time
appears personified as creator and ruler of everything. In the Brhmanas and

167 wa qla kharn: al-filu huwa l-nafsu lianna f Bdha anna kulla mawjdin fahuwa min
pursha, (Hind, p. 22, l. 17).
168 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 9), The transformative nature of cosmic existence, beginning with
the creation and preservation of life in all its separate forms, inevitably leads to a disso-
lution of those forms. By analogy with the sacrifice of purua, the dissolution of manifold
existence is the way in which life continuously regenerates itself.
169 wa qla kharn: al-filu huwa l-zamnu fa-inna l-lama marbun bihi riba l-shti
biabalin mashddin bih att taknu arakatuh biasabi injidhbihi wa istirkhihi, wa
qla kharn: laysa l-filu siw l-mukfti al l-amali l-mutaqaddimi (Hind, p. 22, l. 18).
70 chapter 2

later Vedic texts there are repeated esoteric speculations concerning the year
the unit of creation associated with creative and regenerative sacrifice and with
Prajpati, Lord of Creatures and god of the sacrifice. Time is an endless repe-
tition of the year, and thus of creation; this is the starting point of later notions
of repeated creations and the subsequent and final explanation given of action
being the result of recompense170 for past deeds.
A more interpretative rendering of al-mukft in the light of its relationship
with temporal action,171 in both the Hind and Kitb Btanjal, would suggest
that al-Brn relied upon the terms amal or aml, action or actions,172 in
order to convey the concept of karma.173 For, according to certain traditional
Hindu doctrines, karma acting like clockwork always winds itself up while
running down, binds the tmans of beings to the world and compels them to
go through an endless series of births and deaths.
Having enumerated a series of false opinions in response to the anchorites
inquiry about the relationship between action and its agent, the sage succinctly
outlines the truth of the matter:

All of these views are incorrect. The truth with regard to this subject is
that action belongs entirely to matter since it is matter which binds [the
soul], causes it to be reborn in moulds, and frees it. It is matter, therefore,
which is the agent and everything within its sphere of control assists it
to accomplish action. The soul is not the agent of action because it lacks
those various qualities [that exist within the sphere of matter].174

170 al-mukft (Hind, p. 23, l. 2).


171 al-fil (Hind, p. 23, l. 1).
172 Al-Brn provides the phrase al-amlu l-sbiqa, past actions, (Hind, p. 63, l. 10) as an
equivalent term in Arabic for the concept of karma. Cf. also: Others maintain that the
disposer is karma, namely, action: wa zaama kharn anna l-mudabbir huwa Karma ayy
al-amal, (Hind, p. 272, l. 10).
173 Al-Brn understood the soul/body relationship expressed in the Yoga-Stra not in terms
of an utter distinctness but in terms, first, of a removal of karma by means of recompense
for past deeds and refraining from future ones, wal muntah il darajati l-khali qad
istawfh f qlibihi al m l-fili thumma taaala ani l-iktisbi lil-mustanafi (Hind,
p. 62, l. 14), He who arrives at the stage of liberation has recompensed in his physical
mould his past actions and he refrains from acquisition [of further karma] for the future.
174 wa kullu hdhihi l-ri munarifatun ani l-awbi wa innam l-aqqa fh anna l-fila
kullahu lil-mddati liannah hiya llat tarbuu wa turaddidu f l-uwari wa tukhall fahiya
l-filatu wa siru m tatah awnun lah al ikmli l-fili, wa likhuli l-nafsi ani l-qiw
l-mukhtalifati hiya ghayru filatin (Hind, p. 23, l. 2).
hindu metaphysics according to the hind 71

8 Kitb Snk as Conclusion to the Comparative Triptych

This surprising conclusion to the citation from Kitb Snk, redressing the sig-
nificance of prakrti/al-mdda in its interaction with purua/al-nafs, is most
convincingly explained in terms of a continuity of methodological perspective
which centres upon Hindu psychology, initiated by al-Brn in Kitb Btanjal
and concluded in the Hind. Without the manifestation of being, prakrti, liber-
ation would not take place. It is through the conjunction of soul (spirit)175 and
body/matter176 that the essential nature of the observer, ultimately synony-
mous with the soul, purua, and the observed (prakrtic identity) can eventu-
ally be grasped. It is apparent in this statement that, just as in Kitb Btanjal,
al-Brn does not equate the body or matter177 merely with ensnarement,178
but rather, outlines the epistemological causes by which the body179 becomes a
snare. By doing so al-Brn seeks to rectify this association and achieve liber-
ation180 either through yoga praxis (as portrayed in Kitb Btanjal) or through
the removal of karma by means of non-egoistically motivated action, that is,
action that has prakrti and not purua as its agent.
It is, ultimately, the methodological dynamic evident in Kitb Btanjal and
the Hind which is also reflected in the selection, shape and content of those
citations given in the Hind from Kitb Snk.
Although many references to the system are given in earlier texts, Samkhya
received its classical form and expression in the Skhya-krik, the Stanzas
of Samkhya by vara Krina (c. third century ce). Vijn Bhiku, furthermore,
wrote an important treatise on the system in the sixteenth century. According
to Sachau the Samkhya text which al-Brn reflects in the Arabic citations
in the Hind may be most closely paralleled with Skhya-krik since Both
works teach moksha by means of knowledge, and contain here and there the
same subject-matter.181 Furthermore, Sachau suggests that short indications
of the illustrative tales to be found in much fuller form in the Samkhya text
quotations of the Hind also exist in the Skhya-krik. In addition, the Bhya
of Gaudapda is found to be a near relative of al-Brns Samkhya since most
of the quotations given by al-Brn, when not actually literal translations, are

175 al-nafs/purua.
176 al-qlib/prakrti.
177 al-qlib/al-mdda.
178 al-ishtibk/al-irtib.
179 al-badan/al-qlib.
180 al-khal.
181 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. ii: 267).
72 chapter 2

found to be only slightly differently phrased in Gaudapda. Similarly, almost


all the illustrative tales mentioned by al-Brn are found in Gaudapda, an
observation that led Sachau to surmise that both authors must have relied upon
a work which was near akin to, or identical with, that Smkhya book which was
used by Alberuni.182
The close relationship of al-Brns Samkhya text with that of Gaudapda is
hardly accidental if the framework of methodological continuity in the open-
ing triptych of illustrative texts, of which Kitb Snk is the final instalment,
is taken into consideration. Thus the significance of al-Brns Kitb Snk, an
illustrative reflection of Gaudapdas Bhya, which may have been based on an
older version of the text, lies precisely in this active process of selection. What
al-Brn projects in Kitb Snk is an involved and interpretative appreciation
of Samkhya which draws upon the Hindu philosophical tradition with a criti-
cal and discerning eye. For al-Brns selective and interpretative use of source
texts as part of an overarching methodology is as apparent in the very choice of
a particular source and, by implication, the philosophy and intellectual system
of its author, as it is in the content and persuasion of the Arabic citations them-
selves to be found in the Hind, whether from Kitb Snk, Kitb Btanjal, the
gt or others. They seem to accentuate those aspects of argumentation most
appealing to al-Brns own system. Therefore, it is not incidental that Gau-
dapda is so closely reflected in al-Brns Samkhya, for the Gaudapda argues
that there is no duality, that the mind, awake or dreaming, moves through maya,
illusion, and that only advaita, nonduality, is the final truth. According to the
seventh-century Gaudapda in his commentary on the Upaniads this truth is
concealed by the ignorance of illusion. There is no becoming, either of a thing
by itself or of a thing out of some other thing. There is ultimately no jv, indi-
vidual self or soul, only the tman, the all-soul,183 in which individuals may
be temporarily delineated.

182 Sachau, E.C., (1910, vol. ii: 267).


183 Cf. stri, K.S., (ed.), The Yogayjavalkya. Trivandrum Sanskrit Series, 134. Trivandrum:
Government Press, 1938.
chapter 3

Al-Nafs: The Soul in Kitb Btanjal

1 Introduction

Al-Brns translation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali from Sanskrit into Arabic


illustrates his deep understanding of the Sanskrit language and its literature.
Entitled Kitb Btanjal al-Hind1 (The Book of Patajali, the Indian) it was
written in the late 1020s before the Hind and, most probably, during al-Brns
travels in north-eastern India.
Kitb Btanjal was first discovered by L. Massignon (1922) and later de-
scribed by J.W. Hauer (1930). It was eventually published by H. Ritter with an
introduction in German in 1956. It is divided into four sections2 that correspond
to the four chapters of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali but also blends the views of
Vysa, the great fifth-century commentator of the Yoga-Stra, drawing on his
Yoga-Bhsya to illuminate Patajalis thought.
Each section has a different focus and will be considered separately in the
following two chapters. The questions and answers of the first section focus
on the complex interaction of the soul with the body, in particular the means
of achieving the concentration of the heart (mind) that is a distinct concept
in yoga philosophy.3 The second section of Kitb Btanjal draws attention to
the discipline required to achieve liberation, al-khal: The second section: on
guidance towards the praxis of that which preceded it in the first section.4 The
third section focuses on recompense and the means by which it is achieved.5
The fourth section treats the subjects of liberation and unification (yoga).6

1 Ritter, H., (ed.), (1956: 165200).


2 qia (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 11), part or section.
3 f iqrri l-qalbi al maqarrin widin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 10), On fixing the heart [mind]
in one place.
4 al-qiatu l-thniyatu f irshdin il amalin m kna taqaddama f l-qiati l-l (Kitb Btan-
jal, p. 183, l. 18).
5 al-qiatu l-thlithatu l-maqratu al dhikri l-jazi wa kayfiyyati l-mujzti (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 192, l. 22), The third section which is confined to an account of recompense and the means
by which it is achieved.
6 al-qiatu l-rbiatu f l-khali wal-ittidi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 199, l. 1), The fourth section
on the subject of liberation and unification. The Sanskrit word yoga is etymologically
derived from from the verbal root yuj meaning to yoke or join or fasten or harness and

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_005


74 chapter 3

In addition to these four sections Kitb Btanjal includes a tripartite preface


whose content is primarily explanatory and, finally, a tantalizing coda-like
conclusion that raises more questions than it resolves and anticipates the
comprehensive depth and detail of the Hind.
The importance of studying Kitb Btanjal lies in the ways in which it assists
in the understanding of the first twelve psychological and theological chapters
of the Hind. The first is in terms of the contrast and comparison of detail from
citations found in both for the purpose of clarifying the meaning but, second,
and more significantly, in order to establish a continuity of method from the
initial stage of translated (and interpreted) source material to a developed stage
of synthesization and explanation. This material is then presented within an
overall Islamic framework of meaning as will be illustrated in the chapter on
the Hind.7 In this light Kitb Btanjal may be taken as a case study to establish
and explore a continuity from the translation to the Islamic synthesization
found in the opening chapters of the Hind. This procedure will further enable
us to gauge the nature of al-Brns translation and manipulation of Sanskrit
sources and their influence on the shaping of his interpretation of Hinduism
based on Islamic principles in the Hind. For instance, by discovering what he
extracted as useful from Kitb Btanjal when discussing the psychology of the
early chapters of the Hind, a matrix may be set for the initial consideration of
other Sanskrit sources he employed in it, whether translated by him or at his
disposal.

2 From Kitb Btanjal to the Hind

The following chapters mainly analyse the tripartite preface and the four sec-
tions of Kitb Btanjal with particular concern given to the nature and devel-
opment of the presentation of the soul, al-nafs, as it is perceived in al-Brns
presentation of the literary culture of Hindu metaphysical speculation specifi-
cally in the Yoga-Stra of Patajali. Building on the work of earlier scholars8 this

can have several connotations including union. Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 7). It is, therefore, not
inconceivable that al-Brns use of the Arabic term al-ittid is at least partially intended
to convey such an etymological connotation from the Sanskrit. However, the analysis of such
terms in the Sanskrit is beyond the scope of this study and only tentative parallels between the
English translation of Sanskrit terms and their possible Arabic equivalents in Kitb Btanjal
will be made.
7 Al-Nafs: the Soul in the Hind.
8 For example, Rosenthal, F., Al-Biruni Between Greece and India, and Lawrence, B.B., Al-
Brns Approach to the Comparative Study of Indian Culture, in Biruni Symposium, (1976).
al-nafs: the soul in kitb btanjal 75

analysis forms the basis for the argument that a continuum of methodological
perspective exists between Kitb Btanjal and the Hind. Kitb Btanjal is not
only a bold effort to communicate the essentials of yogic ascesis to an Arabic
readership,9 but marks the beginning of an interpretation of the Yoga-Stra of
Patajali that finds its final Islamic form in the Hind. Thus, the initial ten chap-
ters of the Hind offer significantly more than a distillation and an extension10
of an Arabic translation of the Yoga-Stra or a magisterial overview of Hindu
notions whose subject matter is equivalent to that broached in the Kalm.
First, Kitb Btanjal and the Hind seem not only to maintain a continuum
of methodological perspective but also comprise a representation of the Yoga-
Stra that, closely, though not slavishly, reflects the Stras and fully engages
with unidentified and recognised commentaries. Second, this representation
illuminates both its immediate subject and the cultural and intellectual context
in which these works arose. Thus a sense of Kitb Btanjals socio-intellectual
environment is suggested in the choice and treatment of the subject matter.
It informs the Arabic philosophical debate concerning the nature of the soul
with a novel perspective by placing what would initially appear to be eccentric
subject matter within an Islamic frame of discourse. The nature of the soul,
of course, was a subject that was famously treated by al-Brns contempo-
rary Ibn Sn, in the De Anima11 of the Shif. Third, we should not ignore the
important role that Kitb Btanjal plays as an eleventh-century reflection of
the Yoga-Stra that closely represents an earlier tradition of as yet unidentified
commentaries.

3 The Soul and Spiritual Liberation

Both the continuum of methodological perspective between Kitb Btanjal


and the Hind, and the socio-intellectual environment are best illustrated by
their treatment of the Hindu concept of the soul12 and the means by which
one achieves spiritual liberation.13 The schematisation of the three paths to
liberation described in chapter seven of the Hind and the passages related to it
are either quoted or paraphrased from Kitb Btanjal, as will be illustrated in
our comparative analysis.

9 Lawrence, B.B., Brn, Ab Rayhn, vii. Indology, in Encyclopaedia Iranica, pp. 285287.
10 Ibid.
11 Rahman, F., (1959).
12 Sanskrit: purua. Arabic: al-nafs. Cf. Glossary.
13 Sanskrit: moka. Arabic: al-khal.
76 chapter 3

These passages, then, are a reflection of the Yoga-Stra, in such a way that
commentary, be it that of al-Brn or of others, and text are woven into an inte-
grated whole, whilst, at the same time, maintaining a close approximation of
the general structure and progress of the original. Al-Brns reliance on the
teaching of Patajali over those of Samkhya and the Bhagavadgta, regarding
the nature of the soul, does more than signal his preference for one Hindu
philosopher over another. Rather it reflects a sensitive and considered intellec-
tual evaluation and Islamic synthesis, an intentional process that was initiated
in Kitb Btanjal and concludes in the first ten chapters of the Hind.
Al-Brn stresses throughout the importance of the pursuit of knowledge14
not least in the opening paragraph of Kitb Btanjal where the achievement of
knowledge15 necessitates a pedagogical obligation to impart it to others: When
they [Hindu books on wisdom] were read to me letter by letter and I had fully
understood their content, my mind could not forego sharing them with those
who wished to study them.16 This sense of scholarly obligation was possibly
inspired by the strong pedagogical current running through the Yoga-Stra and
conveyed in the core structure of Kitb Btanjal by means of a dialogic format
between Patajali / btanjal (pupil), and a renunciant, al-zhid (teacher).

4 Al-Brn and Western Scholarship

Most scholars who have written or commented on Kitb Btanjal and the Hind
do not consider the possibility that al-Brn may have been influenced to any
degree by the Hindu doctrines, philosophies and sciences that he imaginatively
reflected. This pattern is grounded in a much adhered to tradition that stems
from Edward Sachaus Preface to his translation of the Hind first published
in 1888. Al-Brns strong inclination towards Indian philosophy, (Alberunis
India, p. xviii), can be nothing more than a reflection of his professional zeal,
(ibid., p. xxi), for he was after all a Muslim and he sometimes takes an
occasion for pointing out to the reader the superiority of Islam over Brahmanic
India, (ibid., p. xix).
This supposed contradiction between al-Brns eccentric open-minded
scholarship and the desire to pigeonhole him into a Muslim mould of cultural
superiority implicitly persists though is rarely addressed by later scholars. Such

14 jna-yoga/alab l-ilm.
15 al-istifda/al-ilm (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 2, 9).
16 lamm quriat alayya arfan arfan wa aau bim fh lam yujwiz amr fh ishrka
l-rghibna f mulaatih (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 8).
al-nafs: the soul in kitb btanjal 77

an approach overlooks the possibility that the internal philosophical dynamics


of a work like Kitb Btanjal allowed for a freedom to select, evaluate, create
and translate within an Islamic frame what is manifestly a non-Islamic sphere
of debate where questions of self-justification and personal faith were simply
irrelevant.
Thus the possibility of such freedom in the intellectual analysis of Hindu
philosophy and of such a degree of fascination for Hindu doctrines was only
possible because of al-Bruns success in setting this material within an Islamic
interpretative and terminological frame. Al-Brn was conscious of the clear
distinction between his Muslim beliefs and the Hindu doctrines he describes:
Even if it [the narration of their words] contradicted the Truth, and those who
possess [the Truth] find hearing it revolting, the fact is that it is his [the Hindus]
own belief and he understands it best I will narrate the words of the Hindus
literally.17
The clarity of this distinction between an Islamic view of Hinduism and
Islam may have actually spurred a sophisticated interest and constructive
engagement in Hindu philosophy and psychology. Further, this engagement is
a significant, if not subversive, contribution to the, at times, intense philosoph-
ical and psychological debates in the contemporary Arabic intellectual sphere
that involved such luminaries as Ab Bakr al-Rz and Ibn Sn.
Such a distinction is best illustrated in the contrast between al-Brns
generally positive treatment of Hindu doctrine within the Islamic frame he sets
for it and a less apparent level of tolerance when he turns to Muslim heresies.
His principal contribution to Muslim heresiography is the now lost, Akhbr
l-mubayyia wal-qarmia (A History of the Mubayyia and the Qarmatians),
mentioned in his thr and whose clearly polemical nature is reflected in the
unflattering and lurid accounts of Muqanna18 and the Qarmia of Bahrain19
as narrated in the thr.
Al-Brns contribution to contemporary Muslim discussions on the nature
of the soul should not be ignored on the grounds that his treatment of this
subject takes place within non-Islamic boundaries since it in fact takes place
within Islamic ones. In addition, such a view does not take into consideration
the role of Kitb Btanjal and the Hind as rhetorical or cultural channels that
offer al-Brn the necessary distance from his Muslim religious context for

17 wa in byana l-aqqa wa stufia samuhu inda ahlihi fa huwa itiqduhu wa huwa abaru
bihi fa ridu kalma l-hindi al wajhihi, (Hind, p. 5, l. 8).
18 thr, pp. 213214.
19 thr, pp. 213214.
78 chapter 3

a novel and well synthesised contribution to the contemporary Arabic philo-


sophical debate on the nature of the soul. It is the novel use of Hindu psychol-
ogy from an Islamic viewpoint as a vehicle for philosophising inside his cultural
milieu that is worth considering.
A refreshing view on this matter was proposed by F. Rosenthal who argues
in his article, On Some Epistemological and Methodological Presuppositions
of al-Brn20 that ideas found in the Yoga-Stra entered al-Brns episte-
mological thinking: Normally, it would seem prudent for us to see in Brn
more the reporter of Indian philosophical speculation than the follower of it.
However, his receptive mind was often deeply impressed by the foreign ideas
he studied, and they were incorporated into his thought patterns.21 As for the
tentative argument that Kitb Btanjal betrays some attempt at Islamisation
by al-Brn, Rosenthal suggests that this may apply more to the translators
skill as a translator than to his readiness to assimilate ideas of the work trans-
lated to his own thinking.22 Rosenthal draws a clear distinction in his argument
between, on the one hand, al-Brns impression by and incorporation of
foreign ideas into his own thought patterns, and on the other, his lack of
readiness to assimilate these very same ideas into his own thinking.23 Such
a distinction is resolved by thinking in terms of a process of Islamisation that
allowed al-Brn to provide a culturally amenable philosophical and intel-
lectual space. This afforded him, his readers, and discussants the freedom to
engage with and even assimilate certain foreign ideas without them conflict-
ing with their Islamic beliefs.
The importance of the pursuit of knowledge24 is paramount in both Kitb
Btanjal and the Hind and reflects the yogic view that liberation25 is insepara-
ble from self-cognition. In Kitb Btanjal liberation26 is the return of the soul
[in a state of knowing] to its nature.27 In the Hind this concept is further sharp-
ened:

20 Rosenthal, F., (1974: 145167).


21 Ibid.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid.
24 jna-yoga/alabu l-ilm.
25 moka.
26 moka/al-khal.
27 Ritter, (1956: 165200): huwa ruju l-nafsi limatan il ibih, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 198,
l. 21). Ritter introduces the word lima, in a state of knowing, from the parallel passage
to be found in (Hind, p. 61, l. 19).
al-nafs: the soul in kitb btanjal 79

The souls salvation, then, is through knowledge when it [the soul] under-
stands things so as to define them comprehensively and specifically with-
out the need for deduction and without doubt, because when it cate-
gorises existents by means of definitions, it perceives its own entity and
[grasps] that it possesses the nobility of permanent existence whereas
matter possesses the ignominy of change and finitude in appearances.28

It is a concept that is reminiscent of the Greek-Arabic terminology of con-


temporary philosophical debate where the soul reasons its own existence. An
example may be taken from Ibn Sns al-Shif, (The Cure): We say, the soul
reasons by taking into its own entity the appearance of intelligibles stripped of
matter.29
This leads to two important questions that need to be addressed alongside
the investigation of the Islamic interpretative frame: Are we to see in this
similarity the introduction of relevant Hindu material within the boundaries of
the contemporary Arabic philosophical heritage? And if this is indeed the case
then what is its possible place within the contemporary Arabic philosophy of
al-Brns time?
It has already been argued30 that the Hind is more than an exceptional
eleventh century scientific study of Hindu civilisation. Rather, it is a philosoph-
ical presentation of a new cosmological alternative to that set out by Ibn Sn in
the Metaphysics of his al-Shif31 which reflects the dominant heritage of Neo-
Platonic Aristotelianism in Arabic philosophy.
The apparent similarity of terminological usage between al-Brn and Ibn
Sn in their parallel discussions on the nature of the soul further highlights
the contrast in their approach to understanding the souls relationship with
and role in matter. To trace these differences and, in so doing, answer our two

28 fa-khaluh idhan bil-ilmi idh aat bil-ashyi iata taddin kulliyyin mumayyazin
mughnin ani l-istiqri nfin lil-shukki liannah idh faalati l-mawjdti bil-uddi
aqalat dhtah wa m lah min sharafi l-daymmati wa lil-mddati min khissati l-taghay-
yuri wal-fani f l-uwari (Hind, p. 51, l. 18).
29 fa-naqlu inna l-nafsa yaqilu bi-an takhudha f dhtih rata l-maqlti mujarradatan
ani l-mddati (al-Shif, i, 358), in A-if, La Gurison, lithographi Thran, 1303/1886,
2 vol. in f. Quoted in Goichon, A., (1938: 225), Nous disons que lme connat, comprend,
intellige, en prenant en soi la forme des intelligibles abstraite de la matire.
30 In the earlier chapter Al-Brn: Prologues and Method.
31 Critical editions of the Arabic text of the Shif under the supervision of E. Madkur have
been appearing in Cairo since 1952. Of these the most pertinent for our consideration of
Ibn Sns metaphysical thought is al-Nafs (Psychology), 1975. Also Rahman, F., (1959).
80 chapter 3

questions, a study of al-Brns presentation of Hindu psychology allows us to


assess its challenging vision in the light of the dominant Aristotelian heritage
of contemporary Arabic philosophy, in particular, the Peripatetic School, whose
greatest articulator was Ibn Sn.
Thus al-Brns preference for the teachings of Patajali may not have been
incidental or circumstantial but, in fact, a conscious and sophisticated promo-
tion of an integrated and challenging vision of the soul whose psychological
development set within an Islamic frame of interpretation is a process that
begins in Kitb Btanjal and culminates in the Hind.

5 The Yoga-Stra and the Psychology of Kitb Btanjal

The particular reading of Hindu psychology in Kitb Btanjal represents an


accurate reflection of Patajalis yoga. The first systematisation of yoga took
place in the Yoga-Stra attributed to Patajali (possibly fourth or fifth century)
and the philosophical implications of the Stras were discussed by Vysa (pos-
sibly in the year five hundred) in his commentary. Historically, little if anything
is known about Patajali, however, it is reasonable to assume that, as head of
a school of yoga, Patajali was an active preceptor or guru and, judging from
the Yoga-Stra, a great authority on yoga whose approach was sympathetic
toward philosophical inquiry and exposition. It is also reasonable to suppose
that Patajali taught a community of disciples, isyas, devoted to the study and
practice of yoga who carried on the tradition of this philosophical school.
Adopting a classical format written in stra style, Patajali composed the
Yoga-Stra at a time of intense debate and philosophical speculation in India.
As such, he supplied Yoga with a reasonably homogenous framework that
could stand up against the many rival traditions, including Nyya, Vednta,
and Buddhism.32 The stra style of writing is often employed in the writ-
ings of the so-called six orthodox systems of philosophy used within Hin-
duism.
Just as Patajali employed the stra style to express yoga within the frame-
work of rival traditions, so too the terminology of contemporary Arabic phi-
losophy is employed in Kitb Btanjal and the Hind to facilitate its assessment
within the framework of the dominant Peripatetic tradition to which Ibn Sn
adhered.

32 Dasgupta, S., Yoga Philosophy in Relation to Other Systems of Indian Thought. Calcutta, 1930,
pp. 39, 44.
al-nafs: the soul in kitb btanjal 81

The essence of Patajalis yoga is the overtly practical and provisional dual-
istic metaphysics that does not, however, merely end up in a radical dualistic
closure in which purua [soul] and prakrti [matter] are incapable of cooper-
ating, establishing a harmony, and achieving a balance together.33 Rather,
it is this wealth of sophistication that Kitb Btanjal brings from the Hindu
traditions of yoga into the metaphysical and psychological debates within the
sphere of Arabic philosophical culture and whose introduction into this sphere
is made possible by means of an Islamic reading of these Hindu traditions.
By introducing a yoga-derived monistic understanding to the debate on
psychology, whose impact is further strengthened by a basically monotheistic
reading of yoga philosophy, Kitb Btanjal presents a cosmological challenge
to the more dualistic psychology of Ibn Sn whose hylomorphic enterprise is
best reflected in the De Anima of his Shif:

The soul and the body are not one essence, rather, they are two essences
for we have proven and demonstrated that the soul is not in any way
imprinted in the body, and, therefore, the body is not formed in the image
of the soul, neither in simple nor in composite terms so that the body
units are composed and blended in such a way that the soul is imprinted
in them, and it is impossible for the body to be a causal form of the soul
or a perfecting cause, for it is more appropriate that the opposite should
be the case.34

In contrast, this study seeks to illustrate the way in which Kitb Btanjal and
the Hind seem consciously to reflect the monistic tendency in the psychology of
the Yoga-Stra, that seeks to unite these two principles [purua and prakrti]
by correcting a misalignment between them, thereby properly aligning them,
bringing them together through a purification and illumination of conscious-
ness leading to the permanent realisation of intrinsic being, that is, authentic
identity.35

33 Whicher, I., (1998: 4).


34 Rahman, F., (1959), wa laysa l l-nafsu wa l l-badanu bi-jawharin, lakinnahum jawharn
fa-qad barhann wa bayyann anna l-nafsa laysat munabiatan f l-badani bi-wajhin
mina l-wujhi, fa-l yaknu l-badanu idhan mutaawwiran bi-rati l-nafsi l bi-asabi
l-basati wa l bi-asabi l-tarkbi bian takna ajzu l-badani tatarakkabu wa tamtaziju
tarkban m wa imtizjan m fa-tanabiu fh l-nafsu, wa malun an yakna l-jismu
illatan uwariyyatan lil-nafsi aw kamliyyatan, fa-inna l-awl an yakna bil-aksi (De
Anima, pp. 227228).
35 Whicher, I., (1998: 4).
82 chapter 3

The preface to the Hind refers to two works from the Hindu philosophical
tradition, Kitb Btanjal and Kitb Snk both of which were translated from
Sanskrit into Arabic.36 In light of the heavy reliance on Patajalis yoga when
outlining a considered Hindu perspective of the soul in the Hind, it is significant
that these two earlier works should be so sharply defined. Given that the
Samkhya text has not survived, it can only be concluded from the brief allusion
to it in the preface of the Hind and the ample quotations to be found from it
in the first section of the Hind37 that al-Brn chose to limit his use of classical
Samkhya to certain aspects of metaphysical speculation, namely, its treatment
of principles and the description of existents.38
This runs contrary to the fact that Samkhya comprises its own dualistic the-
ory with regard to the soul/matter relationship. The numerous philosophical
differences between Yoga and Samkhya derive from the different methodolo-
gies adopted by the two schools of thought. Samkhya relies primarily on the
exercise of the discernment of purua from prakrti on the basis of prefabri-
cated categories of differentiation, stressing a theoretical/intellectual analysis
to bring out the nature of final emancipation.39 Yoga, on the other hand, can-
not be strictly described as a dualistic system since emancipation is achieved
through a practical understanding and clearer realisation of ones intrinsic
identity as purua rather than through the intellectual discernment of purua
from prakrti.
The different methodologies adopted by these two Hindu philosophical
schools and their reflection in the respective discussions of the nature of the
soul/matter relationship are the reason why al-Brn sharply defines and sep-
arates the subject matter of his two translations, Kitb Btanjal and Kitb Snk.
Thus Kitb Snk, to judge from the quotations cited in the Hind, seems to
be mainly limited to the exposition of abstract metaphysical knowledge and
attributes little significance to the dualistic psychology of Samkhyan doctrine.
Kitb Btanjal, on the other hand, as the preface to the Hind indicates, has as
its main subject Patajalis philosophy of the soul that conveys, in contradis-
tinction to Samkhyan dualism, a pragmatic and experiential approach to attain
salvation. This is accomplished by dealing with the whole individual as both
spirit and matter, an approach whose practical degree of sophistication moves
beyond the theoretical level of dualistic finality to the possibility of true liber-
ation.

36 Cf. Hind, p. 6, l. 1.
37 Hind, p. 6, l. 1; p. 22, l. 12; p. 23, l. 2; p. 61, l. 19; p. 62, l. 1. For a full discussion of this Samkhya
text in the Hind see chapter: Al-Nafs: the Soul in the Hind.
38 Hind, p. 6, l. 1.
39 Whicher, I., (1998: 5058).
al-nafs: the soul in kitb btanjal 83

Given this differentiation of subject matter within al-Brns two transla-


tions, as well as the dominant challenge presented by Peripatetic hylomor-
phism within the Arabic philosophical tradition, al-Brn focuses on Pata-
jalis yoga methodology as monistic and monotheistic when describing his
view of the Hindu understanding of the soul over the dualistic metaphysics of
Samkhya.
Al-Brns apparent reliance, therefore, on Patajalis yoga on the subject of
the emancipation of the soul from the fetters of the body,40 is a promotion of
yogas more intricate and subtle vision of the soul. It is one that encompasses
dualistic modes of description and explanation but is not held captive by
Samkhya whose bifurcated metaphysical structure is not far removed from Ibn
Sns explanations in the psychology of his Awl l-Nafs41 and the Shif:

The soul has no connection in terms of existence to the body rather


it is connected in terms of existence to those other principles that are
unchanging and permanent therefore, the human soul is not subject
to corruption whatsoever.42

The yoga expressed in Kitb Btanjal is informed as much by mystical insight or


yogic experience as it is by dualism for, unlike Samkhya, Patajalis philosophy
is not based on mere theoretical knowledge, but rather, elicits a perceptual,
not merely inferential approach. Such an approach is deemed essential to treat
the whole human situation and provide real freedom and not just a theory of
liberation or a metaphysical explanation of life.43
It is, then, in order to qualify an aspect of dualism in the Avicennian discus-
sion of psychology, that, as the above quotations indicate, emphasis is placed
on the primacy of the soul over the body rather than treating the whole human
state. As such, the eight-limbed path of yoga (anga-yoga) is expounded
at length in Kitb Btanjal addressing the physical, moral, psychological, and
spiritual dimensions of the individual in the terminology of contemporary Ara-
bic philosophical debate. The Hind continues and further refines the theme
by advocating this experiential/perceptual approach against the dominance of

40 Hind, p. 6, l. 1.
41 Awlu l-Nafsi: rislatun f l-nafsi wa baqih wa madih. A.F. al-Ahwn (ed.). Cairo?,
1952.
42 Rahman, F., (1959), l taalluqa lil-nafsi f l-wujdi bil-badani bal taalluquh f l-wujdi
bil-mabdii l-ukhr llat l tastalu wa l tubilu idhan inna l-nafsa l-insniyyata l
tufsidu l-batta (De Anima, pp. 231233).
43 Whicher, I., (1998: 14).
84 chapter 3

the theoretical/inferential one, and brings to light the importance of this major
perceptual current at the outset of its preface fully discussed earlier:44

He who states that what is transmitted is not like what is seen is correct,
for what is seen is the perception, in the eye of the observer, of the essence
of that which is observed at the moment of its existence and in the place of
its apprehension. Were it not for unavoidable concomitants that damage
what is transmitted it would be clearly preferable to eyewitness.45

44 Chapter 1: Al-Brn: Prologues and Methods.


45 innam adaqa qawlu l-qili laysa l-khabaru kal-iyni lianna l-iyna huwa idrku ayni
l-niri ayna l-manri ilayhi f zamni wujdihi wa f makni ulihi wa lawl lawiqu
ftin bil-khabari la-knat falatuhu tabnu al l-iyni (Hind, p. 1, l. 1).
chapter 4

Kitb Btanjal: The Preface and Sections iiii

We are informed in the third part of the preface that the text of Kitb Btanjal
is interwoven with an explanation of it.1 According to S. Pines and T. Gelblum,2
however, in addition to an early version of the Yoga-Bhsya al-Brn seems to
have also relied on commentators such as Vcaspati-mira (ninth century ce)
and others as yet unidentified.3 Yet what is of greatest significance is al-Brns
considerable interpretative role in his consideration of the Yoga-Stra and its
commentaries and their reflection in Kitb Btanjal. This role is more complex
than what Pines and Gelblum have basically claimedthat Kitb Btanjal in
its major as well as minor characteristics betrays a good deal of islamiza-
tion.4 Rather, this translation represents a methodological project of interpret-
ing and defining Hinduism along Islamic lines whose motives are conditioned
in part by the challenge of the contemporary philosophical debate within al-
Brns cultural sphere.

1 The Tripartite Preface of Kitb Btanjal

Al-Brns role in Kitb Btanjal is revealed in its short tripartite preface in


which he describes the manner with which such texts were read to him letter
by letter,5 and outlines the main issue of Kitb Btanjal as liberation from like-
nesses.6 This includes topics concerning reincarnation, and the misfortunes

1 In Ritter, H., (1956: 165200), wa hdh huwa ibtidu kitbi Btanjal murakkabun nauhu
bi-sharihi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 5).
2 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966).
3 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966: 305).
4 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966: 305).
5 lamm quriat alayya arfan arfan (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 10).
6 fil-khali mina l-amthli (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 2). The term al-khal, liberation, is
intimately related with that of al-ittid, unification, in Kitb Btanjal. Unification is used
to indicate the philosophically sophisticated and highly technical process of meditation,
spiritual ascesis, and physical asceticism which, when systematically practised, is capable
of steadying the mind, iqrru l-qalbi al maqarrin widin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 10), On
fixing the heart (mind) in one place, bringing it under control, and thereby transcending the
trammels of worldly existence including the human (egoic) barriers to (spiritual) freedom,

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_006


86 chapter 4

of incarnation, and unification, and generation not according to the principle


of birth.7 Al-Brn highlights the centrality and the process to liberation. This
corresponds with the ultimate goal of the authentic yoga practitioner whose
means of achieving both heaven and liberation can be seen as converging on
basic yogic-orientated practices such as concentration, meditation, absorption,
and unification.8 The attainment of liberation is intimately bound with the
state of the individual soul:

Not one of them is free from the belief that souls are bound in the world
and that they are snared by its hooks, and that only those souls which
achieve the ultimate goal in their activity are freed from them and reach
a state of permanent endurance. Those souls that fall short of this ultimate
goal continue in the world and are in existents alternating between good
and evil until they are cleansed and become pure and free.9

By highlighting the theme of the soul/matter relationship at the very outset of


Kitb Btanjal in practical, experiential, and personal terms (terms which differ
from the theoretical schematic of classical Samkhyan dualism), Kitb Btanjal,
like the Yoga-Stra of Patajali, translates the universal, macrocosmic per-
spective, traditionally associated with the Samkhyan school of philosophy into
subjective, microcosmic terms.
Yoga philosophy as described in Kitb Btanjal and the Hind subtly
addresses and attempts to resolve the tensions inherent in a dualistic perspec-
tive where purua and prakrti are utterly separate and incapable of uniting.10
It develops an integration of being and positive (devotional) activity,11 that, as

al-khalu mina l-amthli (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 2), liberation from (states of) simi-
larities. It is the sense of these human (egoic) barriers described in yoga (cf. Whicher, I.,
1998: 8) which is conveyed in the meaning of the Arabic al-amthl, (states of) similari-
ties, namely, a state of non-unification or an incomplete condition in the process towards
unification, al-ittid.
7 an qay l-tansukhi wa baly l-ulli wal-ittidi wal-tawalludi l al ukmi l-
wildati (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 15).
8 Whicher, I., (1998: 2831).
9 wa mimm l yakhl minhu aadun minhumu l-itiqda bianna l-anfusa f l-lami mar-
batun wa bi-aliqihi mushtabikatun l takhluu minh il l-baqi l-dimi ill llat bal-
aghati l-ghyata l-quw f l-ijtihdi thumma in qaurat anh baqiyat f l-lami mutarad-
didatan f l-mawjdti bayna khayrin wa sharrin il an tuhadhdhabu wa taf fa-takhluu
(Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 17).
10 al-ittid (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 15).
11 al-ijtihd (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 19).
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 87

an embodied state of being reveals the essential difference between reincar-


nation12 and oscillation in existents,13 with the latter possibly conveying the
sense of metempsychosis.
The concept of reincarnation conveyed in the Hind seems to reflect a stage
by stage movement towards self-betterment within the bodily state:

He [an individual self] returns to the world and is prepared for a specific
type of mould through ascesis. Sacred inspiration raises him in this latter
mould by degrees to the level that he had willed in the first mould. His
heart begins to obey him, and he continues to be purified in moulds until
he attains liberation through a series of births.14

Al-taraddud,15 oscillation seems to play a dual role in both Kitb Btanjal


and the Hind. Thus, when it is associated with al-tansukh in the context of
a general discussion of reincarnation, the two terms act in synthesis so that al-
tansukh becomes the concept16 that represents the distinguishing feature of
Hinduism. It is in this sense that al-taraddud is used as the central concept in al-
Brns prerequisite Islamic identification of an article of faith in Hinduism.
At other times, however, and particularly in Kitb Btanjal, al-taraddud seems
to convey a negative sense of rebirth into a state of non-progressive sameness.17
This suggests an aspect of the souls ensnarement between good and evil, plea-
sure and pain relating to a wider definition of oscillation or hesitation, rather
than a means for the souls liberation:

The postulant said: what is the state of the soul when it reaches [the stage]
between rewards and sins, and thereupon becomes entrapped in the

12 al-tansukh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 15).


13 mutaraddidatan f l-mawjdti (Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 19).
14 yadu il l-duny fa-yuahhalu li-qlibin min jinsin makhin bil-zahdati wa yuwaf-
fiquhu l-ilhmu l-quds f l-qlibi l-khiri bil-tadarruji il m kna irdatuhu f l-qlibi
l-awwali wa yakhudhu qalbuhu f muwaatihi wa l yazlu yataaffa f l-qawlibi il an
yanla l-khala al tawl l-tawludi (Hind, p. 40, l. 15).
15 This term literally means constant repetition/alteration, or hesitation, although the ten-
tative and unsatisfactory choice of oscillation is a point of departure for an exploration
of the wider context in which al-taraddud is used and its rather elusive application by
al-Brn.
16 al-tansukhu alamu l-nilati l-hindiyyati (Hind, p. 38, l. 5), reincarnation is the distin-
guishing feature of the Hindu religion.
17 This is the intended meaning of the subtitle of Kitbu Btanjal, f l-khali mina l-amthli
(Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 2), On liberation from [states of] similarities.
88 chapter 4

prison of births for the purpose of [receiving] benefit and punishment?


[Patajali] answered: it is moved repeatedly according to what it has done
before and perpetrated, between comfort and discomfort, and alternates
between pain and pleasure.18

It is significant that both Kitb Btanjal and the Hind focus at their outset on
the distinction between the two major categories in yoga, namely the
observer and the observed that is intimately related to the soul/matter
dynamic and was possibly intended by Patajali as a metaphysical theory of
truth:19

It is known20 that complete certitude can only be obtained through the


necessity of observation, and it does not encompass unseen things
because that which is unseen can only be inferred from that which is seen,
and that which can be attained through demonstrative arguments is not
like that which is known through direct observation. In a similar manner
the provision of decisive proof21 removes doubts as [effectively as] obser-
vation.

18 qla l-silu: kayfa yaknu lu l-nafsi idh aalat bayna l-ujri wal-thmi thumma
ishtabakat bi-jinsi l-mawldi lil-inmi wal-intiqmi? qla l-mujbu: turaddadu bi-asabi
m qaddamat wa ijtaraat fm bayna ratin wa shiddatin wa tuarrafu bayna alamin wa
ladhdhatin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 5). This passage in Kitb Btanjal reflects Stra ii. 14,
Because Of Virtue And Vice They (Birth, Span And Experience) Produce Pleasurable And
Painful Experiences. All quotations in English translation (including the capitalisation of
all words) from the Yoga-Stra are taken from Mukerji, P.N., (1963).
19 Feuerstein, G., Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga. New York, 1990.
20 wa malmun anna tamma l-istqni l yaknu ill maa arrati l-iyni wa hiya murta-
fiatun ani l-mughayyabti lianna l-ghiba yustadallu alayhi bil-shhidi wa m kna
l-wulu ilayhi bil-dalili fa-laysa kal-malmi bil-iyni wa kadhlika l-burhnu nfin lil-
shukki mithla l-iyni (Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 21).
21 By relating the two terms of al-istidll/al-dalil and al-burhn almost exclusively to each
other in the third part of the preface to Kitb Btanjal, al-Brn consolidates the concept
of al-burhn in order to justify the efficacy of intellectual process and textual analysis as
cognitively equivalent to that which is directly observed. The translation of al-burhn as
decisive proof, therefore, is an attempt to convey its intended meaning on the basis of
the internal methodological dynamic established in this earlier quotation by al-Brn
who renders the provision of al-burhn as authentically equivalent to actual observation
whilst, at the same time, relegating al-istidll/al-dalil whose results are compared to the
level of certainty concerning that which is unseen but inferred.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 89

The discussion in the above quotation intimately relates to and qualifies the
notion of explanation/commentary22 introduced at the outset of the third
part of the preface to Kitb Btanjal. The distinction between sensibilia,23 the
empirical knowledge attained through sense perception, and intelligibilia,24
the knowledge of rational argumentation,25 is made in terms of the complete
certitude generated by al-iyn,26 over against what is merely inferred through
deduction.27
The inferiority attributed to deduction in this passage lies in the fact that it
is a technical term of logic also used by Ibn Sn as a means to acquire general
knowledge28 or what Goichon calls demonstrative argumentation,29 but is
better translated as correct inference.30 Al-dall/al-istidll, in the view of Ibn
Sn is a means to achieving al-marifa but it is a means, according to Kitb
Btanjal, that does not remove all doubt.31
Reference to observation32 and the relationship between the observer
and the observed anticipates the discussion of the relationship between the
knower and the known: The knower comes to know that which is known
only in the realm of ensnarement.33 Knowledge, then, is produced by obser-

22 al-shar (Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 5).


23 al-masst/al-malmt.
24 al-maqlt.
25 For this distinction in al-Brn and the translations given see Rosenthal, F., (1974: 145167).
26 arratu l-iyni (Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 21). The primacy of the faculty of sight in the
determination of certitude according to al-Brns methodology may be traceable as
much to Hindu philosophical origins as to Neoplatonic ones given his awareness of the
teachings of ryabhaa articulated in the Hind: wa qla abu rjabhad yakfn marifatu
l-mawdii lladh yablughuhu l-shuu wa l natju il m l yablughuhu wa in auma f
dhtihi fam l yablughuhu l-shuu l yudrikuhu l-issu wa m l yuassu bihi falaysa
bimalumin (Hind, p. 183, l. 13), The disciples of rjabhad say: the point which the ray of
light reaches is sufficient for us and we do not require that which it does not reach even if
this were in itself sizable. For that which the ray of light does not reach is not perceived by
the sense [of sight] and that which is not sensed by it is not knowable, (emphasis added).
27 al-dall/al-istidll (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 1).
28 al-marifa.
29 Goichon, A., (1938: 125), dalil, terme de logique dsignant la dmonstration et largu-
mentation, soit d une matire gnrale, soit avec un sens particulier, p. 221, marifa,
connaissance, d une manire gnrale.
30 Knowledge the truth of correct inference, marifatu aqqata l-dalli l-ai. Ibid.,
p. 125, la connaissance de l essence de la vraie dmonstration.
31 nfin lil-shukki (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 2).
32 al-iyn.
33 innam ra l-limu bil-malmi liman f maalli l-irtibki (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 14).
90 chapter 4

vation, by means of which complete certitude34 is achieved. This is, most


appropriately, defined by Ibn Sn: Knowledge is the belief that something is
the case and that it cannot be otherwise.35
The methodological aim in Kitb Btanjal as in the Hind is the justification
of a text-based analysis that is informed rather than superseded by empirical
procedure. The central importance of both al-khabar and al-iyn is set out
in the preface of the Hind.36 This is the reason for the introduction in Kitb
Btanjal of decisive proof37 as the framework of scientific epistemology and
argumentation within which, according to Ibn Sn also, al-istidll/al-dall,
reaches the level of correct inference.38 Whereas Ibn Sn is able to conceive
of correct inference39 as the means to achieving both general knowledge
and decisive proof, in Kitb Btanjal, however, deduction40 only functions
within the epistemological framework of decisive proof, and the concept of
al-marifa does not carry the same epistemological implications as al-burhn.
In Arabic philosophy qiys, or reasoning by analogya term found in Muslim
jurisprudencewas transformed into an Aristotelian syllogism and al-burhn
came to designate syllogistic demonstration. Aristotles Posterior Analytics were
translated as Kitb al-Burhn, in the Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadm, by al-Frb,
and by the Ikhwn al-af. The adjective burhn is applied frequently to

34 tammu l-istqni (Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 21).


35 wal-ilmu itiqdun bianna l-shaya kadh wa annahu l yumkinu an l yakna kadh, in
Goichon, A., (1938: 240). La science est une croyance que la chose est ainsi, et quil nest
pas possible qu elle ne soit pas ainsi.
36 Cf. Hind, p. 1, l. 7. For a full discussion see Chapter 1: Al-Brn: Prologues and Meth-
ods. This deliberation between the primacy of sense perception, particularly observation,
al-iyn, against a preponderant reliance on received knowledge or tradition, al-khabar,
forms the basis for al-Brns particular choice of methodological approach. It is, fur-
thermore, reflected in the summarised content of certain Hindu sources which al-Brn
refers to in the Hind and which he was, therefore, certainly aware of: wa mithla laukyata
amalahu al-Mashtar fl-akhdhi bil-issi wadihi f l-mabithi, wa mithla gastamata
amalahu Sahl f l-amali fh bil-issi wal-khabari maan (Hind, p. 102, l. 6), An exam-
ple is the book Laukyata, composed by al-Mashtar [Bihaspati?], which argues for the
use of sense perception alone in [all] investigations, a [further] example is Agastyamata,
composed by Sahl [Agastya?], that one should conduct them [investigations] using both
sense perception and received knowledge [tradition].
37 al-burhn.
38 aqqatu l-dalli l-ai lladh huwa l-burhnu, The true reality of correct inference
which itself is decisive proof, in Goichon, A., (1938: 21).
39 al-dallu l-au.
40 al-istidll/al-dall.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 91

apodeictic demonstration, to the syllogism composed of propositions which


are certain ( yaqniyyt). The typical form of burhnal-burhn al-mulaqis
a syllogism in which the obviousness of the premisses is either immediate or
mediate.41
By relating the two terms al-istidll/al-dall and al-burhn almost exclusively
to each other in the third part of the preface to Kitb Btanjal, al-Brn estab-
lishes the concept of al-burhn in order to justify the efficacy of intellectual
process and textual analysis as cognitively equivalent to that which is directly
observed: In a similar manner the provision of decisive proof removes doubts
as (effectively as) observation.42
It is this methodological difference between al-Brn and Ibn Sn in the
cognitive equation of al-burhn and al-iyn in Kitb Btanjal that enhances
the meaning and significance of the term explanation/commentary43 in the
title of the third part of the preface. The preface, does not discuss an indubitable
use of commentaries such as that of Vysa in Kitb Btanjal, but, more crucially,
introduces a scientific epistemology and framework of logical argumentation
that may be defined as the basis for this particular shar of the Yoga-Stra of
Patajali.
The religious dimension of the term al-burhn cannot be ignored given its
primary role in the methodological framework constructed to explain the
Yoga-Stra of Patajali. The term is Quranic and signifies a brilliant manifes-
tation, a shining light from God (iv, 174), a manifest proof (xii, 24), which
may take the form of that supreme argument of authority that is the miracle
(xxviii, 32).44
The first connotation of burhn, then, according to al-Brn, is not correct
discursive reasoning; it is, rather, the manifest evidence of an irrefutable proof.
It is, in some sense, akin to a spiritual realisation whose degree of certainty

41 Cf. Gardet, L., Al-Burhn, in ei2.


42 wa kadhlika l-burhnu nfin lil-shukki mithla l-iyni (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 1). The
Hindu textual sources which al-Brn quotes in summary form in the Hind and with
which he must, therefore, have had some degree of familiarity represent a significant body
of influence, in terms both of his adoption or relegation of their teachings, on al-Brns
own methodological conclusions and indeed, as in this instance, directly anticipate them:
wa amm Balabhadra yashulu alayhi thru l-khabari al l-iyni kam yaubu alayn
taqdmu l-shubahi al l-burhni (Hind, p. 184, l. 17). As for Balabhadra his preference
for received knowledge [tradition] over observation is as easy as it is difficult for us [me]
to prefer causes of doubt to decisive proof.
43 al-shar (Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 5).
44 Cf. Gardet, L., Al-Burhn, in ei2.
92 chapter 4

is closer, though not equivalent, to that which, for instance, is observed, via
the sense faculties45 even though it is in fact attained through a method of
argumentation, through al-maqlt. It is this range in the term burhn to be
both a mode of argumentation and a manifest proof, to straddle the division
between al-masst and al-maqlt by conveying characteristics of both but
definitively grounded in al-maqlt, that makes it so useful as the basis of the
methodological framework of al-shar in Kitb Btanjal.
The dual nature of the concept of al-burhn, according to the use of this term
in Kitb Btanjal, may, therefore, be traced to the Yoga-Stra where knowledge,
vidy and particularly self-knowledge, is closely related to the notion of free-
dom from any compulsive attraction or enslavement, and is a spiritual state of
clarity rather than the achievement of truths through logical argumentation.
Yet Patajali equally teaches the concept of a liberating knowledge attained
through the purification of distorted perception. This refers not only to spe-
cific internal faculties, but also to the transformation rather than suppression
or exclusion46 of the external senses. Patajalis teaching as reflected in the
epistemological structure of Kitb Btanjal and its congruence with the pro-
motion of a methodology based on the concept of al-burhn,47 leads not only
to its equation with al-iyn, the primary faculty of empirical method whose
result lies in al-malmt/al-masst, the objects or knowledge of sense per-
ception, but, subsequently, to the assertion of the superiority of al-burhn over
the sense faculties used by empirical method:

Sense perception is not truthful because of the occurrence of error in it,


and that which is not truthful is not known for certain, and that which
is not certain is inter-penetrated by ignorance the objects of sense
perception [sensibilia] do not have a true reality that is as fixed as that
of the intelligibilia.48

45 al-masst.
46 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 247).
47 As we have seen, it is this methodology which ultimately governs the definition of the
category of al-maqlt as the knowledge or objects of certain proof.
48 wal-issu ghayru aqq li-wuqi l-ghalai fhi, wa m l aqqata lahu fa-laysa bi-mal-
min yaqnan, wa m zla anhu l-yaqnu fa-qad lbasahu l-jahlu wa laysa lil-malmti l-
issiyyati aqqatun thbitatun thabta l-maqlti (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 4). This quoted
passage is developed out of Stra ii. 18, The Object Or Knowable Is By Nature Sentient,
Mutable And Inert. It Exists In The Form Of Elements And Sense-Organs, And Serves The
Purpose Of Experience And Emancipation.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 93

Given the emphasis on the relationship of observer with the observed in


the preface to the Hind and the close association of this conjunction in the
Yoga-Stra with that of purua and prakrti, it is possible to argue that what
is being presented in Kitb Btanjal and the Hind, is a fundamental teaching
of Patajali. Like Patajalis text, Kitb Btanjal and the Hind develop from
the metaphysical and impersonal dimensions of a macrocosmic philosophy
that relate to al-nafs and al-qlib, and from discussions of Samkhya and the
De Anima of the Shif, the microcosmic and practical terms of human life, the
chief example of which in Kitb Btanjal is the concept of human perception.49
The implication of such an emphasis in practical terms is more directly
expressed in the Yoga-Stra,50 namely, that without the manifestation of being,
prakrti, liberation would not take place in yoga. It is through the conjunc-
tion of purua with prakrti that the essential nature of the observer, that is
ultimately synonymous with purua, and the observed (prakrtic identity) can
eventually be grasped.51 Kitb Btanjal subtly illustrates the line between the
self or observer, through al-iyn, and the observed,52 and in so doing echoes
yoga that seeks to establish human identity as the observer, dismantling the
error of mistaking material identity for spiritual identity thus leading one, ulti-
mately, to liberation.53
As with the use of the term al-burhn, the dual conception in yoga of the
observer being in fact also the soul54 seems to carry its own epistemology and
is reflected in the language of Kitb Btanjal fusing in such technical terms as,
malmun bil-iyni (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 1), empirical method with purified
spiritual perception.
Kitb Btanjal follows a dialogic format that may have been inspired by
Socratic treatises with which al-Brn was familiar, although whether in their
original Greek texts or in translation is a matter for debate. Al-Brn was
certainly familiar with a version of Platos Phaedo that he quotes extensively
in the Hind and that is structured in a dialogic format. Moreover, the very
relevant Pythagorean/Platonic notion of sma/sma (body/prison) occurs in
the Phaedo and is reflected in the quotations relating to the soul given in the
Hind:

49 al-yn.
50 ge, K.S., (ed.), The Yoga-Stra of Patajali. Pune, 1904; ii.23 (p. 91).
51 Ibid.
52 al-malm, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 1).
53 al-khal (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 3).
54 purua.
94 chapter 4

Socrates says in the Phaedo the soul of every human rejoices in and
grieves for an object and considers this object a part of itself, this respon-
siveness ties it [the soul] and nails it to the body and makes it into a bodily
form.55

This notion of sma/sma relates to the central discussion in Kitb Btanjal


about the nature of the soul/body relationship that in some passages mirrors
the Phaedo quotations in the Hind by describing the soul as being trapped or
imprisoned in the body and seeking liberation from it.56
Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the possibility of other influences for the
dialogic structure of Kitb Btanjal, not least the question/answer format that
exists in some of the earliest Muslim legal, and theological texts as well as in
Arabic philosophical correspondences.57 In addition, the pedagogical aspect
in such a structure is reminiscent of the al-murshid/al-murd58 dynamic in the
Sufi oral and written traditions. Indeed, an awareness of such a dynamic is
reflected in the quotations from the Sufi sources including those of both Ab
Bakr al-Shibl (861945) and Ab Yazd al-Bistm (d. 877) in the Hind that hint
at the possibility of a dialogic format in the original oral or written tradition
from which they derive:

There exists in their statements that which indicates a belief in unification


as in the answer of one of them regarding the Truth and as in the answer
of Ab Yazd al-Bistm when he was asked, how did you achieve [arrive
at] what you have?59

This dialogic format makes Kitb Btanjal more accessible to its readership.
More important than this formats culturally pragmatic aspect, however, is its
reflection, in structural terms, of the importance of an appropriate form of ped-
agogy, a concept that is developed as much out of the guru/disciple relationship
in yoga as out of the Socratic dialogue or Sufi oral and written tradition:

55 qla Suqrt f kitbi fdhin wa nafsu kulli insnin tafrau wa tazunu lil-shayi wa tar
dhlika l-shaya lah, wa hdh l-infilu yarbiuh bil-jasadi wa yusammiruh bihi wa
yuayyiruh jasadiyyata l-rati (Hind, p. 43, l. 9).
56 inna l-abdna shibku l-arwi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 6), Bodies are the nets of souls.
57 For possible influences see Daiber, H., Masil Wa-Adjwiba, in ei2 and Akasoy, A., Philo-
sophical Correspondence, in ei3.
58 teacher/pupil.
59 wa yjadu f kalmihim m yadullu al l-qawli bil-ittidi kajawbi aadihim ani l-aqqi
wa kajawbi Ab Yazd al-Bistm wa qad suila bim nilta m nilt (Hind, p. 66, l. 15).
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 95

The renunciant who roamed in barren lands and forests asked Patajali,
saying: I have studied the books of the ancients and their discourses
about things hidden from the senses, and I have found them relying
on weak inferences that are beset by doubts, and they do not seek the
provision of those [certain] proofs that are equal to visual perception,
giving the coolness of certainty and guiding towards the achievement
of liberation from ties. Is it possible, then, for you to show me through
the use of deductions and [certain] proofs what is sought for so that my
understanding of it should be assisted against doubts and misgivings?60

The use of the dialogic format here highlights the priority given in yoga to the
guidance of a spiritual preceptor who has direct experience of the insights as
well as the obstacles that may arise on the path to liberation. However, unlike
yoga where the ideal is of a guru as true teacher, having attained the ultimate
realisation informing all yogic endeavour, in Kitb Btanjal the teacher is the
vehicle for the attainment of definitive proofs61 through the provision of which
the disciples doubts and misgivings62 are dispelled.
Yoga entails a profound pedagogical commitment involving periods of study
during which preceptors can communicate and transmit their wisdom to wor-
thy disciples.63 Spiritual initiation, dk is a crucially important notion in yoga
for it involves an essential transference of knowledge, jna, or spiritualised
power, akti, from the guru to the disciple. Through initiation, the disciple gains
access to the gurus state of consciousness and even mysteriously becomes a
part of the gurus transmission of spiritual energy and awareness through the
gurus proximity.64 In contrast, as the above quotation indicates, it is not so
much the disciples proximity to the guru as it is the certain proof, al-burhn,
that carries the efficacy and certainty equivalent to visual perception, al-iyn,
on which Kitb Btanjal places primary importance. In this understanding,
therefore, the guru guides to spiritual knowledge as opposed to inspiring

60 saala l-zhidu l-siu f l-ar wal-ghiyi btanjal wa qla lahu, qad naartu f kutubi
l-awili wa kalmihim al l-ashyi l-ghibati ani l-issi fa-wajadtuhum fh yatahidna
l-dalila l-afata llat tatakhlajuh l-shukku wa l yaqidna l-barhna l-qimata
maqma l-iyni l-jlibata thalja l-yaqni wal-muarriqata il nayli l-khali mina l-wit-
hqi, fa-hal yumkinuka an tadullan bil-dalili wal-barhni al l-malbi liyakna wuqf
alayhi awnan mina l-shakki wal-irtibi? (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 10).
61 al-barhn (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 12).
62 al-shakku wal-irtibu (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 14).
63 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 2236).
64 Ibid.
96 chapter 4

it.65 Moreover, the emphasis is shifted in Kitb Btanjal so that it is the dis-
ciples iyn and not the gurus which provides the means for the postulant66
to achieve the essence of reality. Given the terminological equivalency of al-
iyn with inner consciousness, purua, a term that signifies the dual notions
of observer, and soul/inner consciousness,67 al-nafs, not only does this shift
in Kitb Btanjal focus attention exclusively on the postulants visual percep-
tion but, more crucially, also focuses attention on the spiritual knowledge of
the postulants inner consciousness.

2 Section i: Concentration of the Heart (Mind)

In the first section of Kitb Btanjal, which addresses the means to achieving
the concentration of the heart (mind),68 three such methods of spiritual asce-
sis are described: habituated action,69 intellectual ascesis,70 and devotion.71
They correspond to the three stages of yoga elaborated in several Hindu works,
including the Bhagavadgta: karma-yoga, bhakti-yoga, and jna-yoga.72
Reliance on these treatises in Kitb Btanjal may have been intended to
enhance the principle aim of describing the theoretical and practical process of
self-realisation through yoga, al-ittid,73 and the liberation of the soul. After

65 fa-hal yumkinuka an tadullan (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 13), Is it possible for you to show
me.
66 al-sil (Kitb Btanjal, p. 170, l. 5).
67 Feuerstein, G., (1990).
68 This is a possible interpretation of the Arabic, f iqrri l-qalbi al maqarrin widin (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 177, l. 10), On fixing the heart [mind] in one place.
69 abhysa/al-tawd.
70 vairgya/al-zuhdu l-fikr.
71 bhakti/al-ibda.
72 The Bhagavadgta, the Song of the Lord, written between the fifth and second centuries
bce expounds the idea that there are various paths to liberation. The first is the path of
action, karma-yoga. Above action is the path of devotion, bhakti-yoga, as a way of salva-
tion. These paths of action and devotion contrast with the path of knowledge, jna-yoga,
mentioned in the text. See Flood, G., (1996: 126127).
73 The term al-ittid in Kitb Btanjal is used to indicate the philosophically sophisticated
and highly technical process of meditation, spiritual ascesis, and physical asceticism
which, when systematically practised, is capable of steadying the mind, iqrru l-qalbi
al maqarrin widin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 10), Fixing the heart [mind] in one place,
bringing it under control, and thereby transcending the trammels of worldly existence
including the human (egoic) barriers to (spiritual) freedom, fil-khali mina l-amthli
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 97

a subtle analysis outlining the five faculties of the soul, the dialogue shifts to
discuss the first method of spiritual ascesis, habituated action:

The postulant said:74 how can one suppress the soul and keep its facul-
ties away from external things? [Patajali] answered: this may be accom-
plished in two ways. One of them is practical, namely, habituation.75 For
when a person targets a specific faculty of the soul and effortfully prevents
it from fluctuation76 and entrusts it to that which is best for it through
continuous perseverance this faculty must ultimately become firmly
rooted77 [istiqrr] in this habit, and will be diverted from the tendencies
it had when it lacked this habit.78

The passage begins by outlining the method through which the soul achieves
liberation in line with the principle current of approach in Kitb Btanjal that
is practical, experiential, and personal against the theoretical and abstract
trend of Samkhya and the Peripatetic tradition in their discussions of the
complex interactions of the soul with the body. The intent of the first method

(Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 2), On liberation from [states of] similarities. (See footnote above
for the relationship between al-ittid and al-khal). In contrast, the term al-ittid for
Ibn Sn specifically denotes the unification of body and soul in one self: wa yuqlu
ittidun liijtimi l-mawdi wal-mamli f dhtin widatin kauli l-insni mina
l-badani wal-nafsi. On appelle union la runion du sujet et de lattribut dans une seule
essence comme l homme vient du corps et de l me, Goichon, A., (1938: 428).
74 qla l-silu: fa-kayfa yumkinu qamu l-nafsi wa qabu quwh ani l-khrijti? qla l-
mujbu: yaknu biarqayni aaduhum amal wa huwa l-tawdu fa-inna l-insna idh
aqbala al quwwatin min quw l-nafsi biaynih fa-thanh ani l-tamarrudi mujtahidan
wa wakkalah il l-alai lah muwiban diban lam yakun buddun f khiri l-amri min
istiqrri tilka l-quwwati al tilka l-dati wa iriwih amm knat tajmau ilayhi maa
adami l-dati, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 171, l. 14).
75 Cf. Stra i. 12 where abhysa/al-tawd is referred to, By Practice And Detachment They
Can Be Stopped.
76 The effortful prevention of fluctuation (al-tamarrud) of the soul derives, in the main, from
Stra i. 13, Exertion To Acquire Sthiti Or A Tranquil Flow Of Mind Devoid Of Fluctuations
Is Called Practice.
77 The notion of al-istiqrr through exertion and habituation is to be found in Stra i. 14,
That Practice When Continued Constantly For A Long Time Without Break And With
Devotion Becomes Firm In Foundation.
78 This reflects the state of desirelessness or detachment described in Stra i. 15, When The
Mind Loses All Passions For Objects Seen Or Described In Sacred Tradition It Acquires A
State Of Utter Desirelessness Which Is Called Detachment.
98 chapter 4

of habituation is to state that the effort toward al-tawd, or meditational praxis


denotes bringing the soul to stillness or self-restraint.79 This method implies
the prevention of fluctuation in the souls faculties, al-tamarrud, so that each
becomes firmly founded80 in meditational praxis which is what is meant by
habituation in the above passage.81
This firm foundation of meditational praxis in the individual faculties of
the soul, on its path toward a persons true liberation, culminates in the firm
concentration82 of the heart (mind)83 into one state,84 as described in the first
section of Kitb Btanjal.
The soul, through habituated action including constancy and diligence in
the worship of God,85 achieves two things. The first is the souls cognition of
God in spite of Him being inaccessible to the senses,86 whilst the second is
the souls quelling of hindrances that prevent it from being withdrawn and
from withdrawing its faculties so as to prevent their spreading out and their
attachment to what is not the Truth.87 These hindrances that prevent the
soul from its specific and pure activity,88 are listed as six:

79 qamu l-nafsi wa qabu quwh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 171, l. 14).


80 istiqrru tilka l-quwwa (Kitb Btanjal, p. 171, l. 19).
81 al-da.
82 Samdhi/al-istiqrr.
83 Cf. Stra iii. 55: Kaivalya (autonomy, independence, liberation) comes about when
sattva (i.e. citta the mind) and the self are equally purified. Al-nafs the soul corresponds
to purua in the Stra (cf. Kitb Btanjal, p. 170, l. 8; p. 177, l. 19; cf. Hind, p. 30: yusammna
l-nafsa purusha, They call the soul purua); and al-qalb, the heartto sattva (i.e., citta,
the mind, a synonym of buddhi and manas) in the Stra (cf. Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 10;
p. 183, l. 20; and cf. Hind, p. 33, l. 12). Also cf. Vysa on Stra iii. 55: When the sattva of the
mind has been cleansed of the defilment of rajas and tamas .
84 iqrru l-qalbi al maqarrin widin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 10).
85 ibdatuhu l-khliatu wa bimuwalatih wa bil-muwabati alayh (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 175, l. 8). This passage reflects Vysa on Stra i. 28 as well as the Stra, Yogins hav-
ing understood the relationship between the verbal symbol and the thing expressed will
Repeat It And Contemplate Upon Its Meaning. Repetition of the symbol and contempla-
tion on its subjectthe varabring one-pointedness.
86 wa huwa wa in ghba ani l-awssi fa lam tudrikhu fa qad aqalathu l-nafsu (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 175, l. 7).
87 wa yuqmau l-mawniu lil-nafsi ani l-inqibi wa qabi l-quw ani l-intishri wal-
taalluqi bighayri l-aqqi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, l. 9). The quelling of hindrances or obsta-
cles referred to here reflects Stra i. 29, From That Comes Realisation Of The Individual
Self And The Obstacles Are Prevented.
88 an khi filih l-mukhlii iyyh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, l. 12).
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 99

They are blameworthy morals that arise in it [the soul] out of a neglect of
responsibilities, sloth in activity, procrastination, doubting what is true,
impotence through ignorance, and conjecturing that what is obligatory is
not so.89

An additional six types of distraction are cited although only four are in fact
given:90

It [the soul] is preoccupied by one of six types of concern including


impulses that overwhelm it without them being sought by it, its concern
with a [particular] created being whose reincarnation it anticipates, its
concern with a failure to achieve a given goal and despairing as a result,
its concern with change in the body which is its vehicle.91

Further, the (here corrupt text) seems to indicate that the body as a vehicle
is the channel by which the soul is affected,92 through its occurrence or
its actions.93 The description of the body as the chariot of the soul is not
only Platonic94 in its provenance but may have also been derived from Hindu

89 hiya akhlqun madhmmatun tatakhallaqu bih min ghaflatin mina l-wjibi wa kasalin
f l-amali wa taswfin il l-ghadi wa shakkin f l-aqqi wa ajzin mina l-jahli wa annin
bil-wjibi annahu laysa biwjibin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, l. 12). The listed hindrances
correspond, in part, to Stra i. 30, Sickness, Incompetence, Doubt, Delusion, Sloth, Non-
Abstention, Erroneous Conception, Non-Attainment Of Any Yogic Stage, And Instability
To Stay In A Yogic State, These Distractions Of The Mind Are The Impediments.
90 According to Ritter (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, notes 5 and 6) certain words at the end of this
passage in the manuscript are corrupt making the meaning of the final clause, (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 175, l. 19), unclear.
91 yushghiluh l-hammu al aadi sittati anwin minh ihtimmuh likhawirin taghshh
min ghayri taammudin minh lah, wa minh ihtimmuh limakhlqin tatawaqqau ul-
lah, wa minh ihtimmuh likhaybatin f malabin wa yasin minhu, wa minh ihtim-
muh litaghyurin f l-badani lladh huwa markabuh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, l. 17). Cf.
Stra i. 31, Sorrow, Dejection, Restlessness, Inhalation And Exhalation Arise From (Pre-
vious) Distractions. Also Vysa on this Stra, Sorrow is of three kindsdhytmika
(arising within oneself), dhibhautika (inflicted by some other creature) or dhidaivika
(through natural calamity) Dejection is caused through non-fulfilment of desire or
when wished-for things do not happen. The upsetting of bodily equilibrium or steadiness
results in shakiness of the body.
92 alladh thruh minhu: reading the corrupted word mbnh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, 19) as
minhu.
93 yaknu udthuh fh wa f aflih (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, l. 20).
94 Cf. Plato, Phaedo. Oxford, 2009.
100 chapter 4

texts.95 A simile given in the Kaha Upaniad says that the body is a chariot
of which man96 is the owner; buddhi97 is the charioteer, mind the reins and
the senses the steeds (i. 3. 34). Since the teaching of the Bhagavadgt is most
closely related of all the Upaniads to the Kaha Upaniad it may be justified
to extend this simile to the situation in the Gt, a version of which is quoted
extensively in the Hind.98
The emphasis on control of the body as the vehicle to spiritual progress is
reflected in the subsequent question, in which the postulant asks concerning
the way towards quelling and warding off,99 and the answer partly looks to
control of the yogins breath so that it will not go away and be lost in the two
states of inhalation and exhalation.100
Intellectual dispassion101 is the second method of spiritual ascesis. Although
described as the second path in Kitb Btanjal, the structure of the text
indicates that al-zuhdu l-fikr functions in conjunction with the first path
of al-tawd and shares an identical goal. Al-zuhdu l-fikr and al-tawd seem
to function in a similarly interdependent manner as the yogic equivalents
that transform distracted states of the soul or fluctuations in its faculties, al-
tamarrud, into concentrated states102 in the staged process towards liberation.
Although not fully described in Kitb Btanjal, al-tawd in yoga includes a
wide range of techniques to stabilise the soul; there is, however, an indication
that the cultivation of al-zuhdu l-fikr prevents the disciple from misappro-
priating the result of al-tawd, that is, in an egoic,103 selfish, or irresponsible
manner:

95 The soul is compared to a charioteer in Gauapda.


96 self/al-dht.
97 Intellect.
98 Hind, p. 37, l. 16.
99 al-sablu il qami dhlika wa dafihi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 175, l. 21). Cf. Stra i. 32, For Their
Stoppage (i.e., Of Distractions) Practice Of (Concentration On) A Single Principle Should
Be Made.
100 l yadhhabu yau nafsahu f latay jadhbihi wa irslihi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 6). Cf.
Stra i. 34, By Throwing Out And Restraining The Breath Also (The Mind Is Calmed).
Vysa on this Stra has, Throwing out or expulsion is the ejection of the internal air
through the apertures of the nose by a special kind of effort. Restraining or Prnyma
is retention of the breath. The mind can also be calmed or set by these methods.
101 vairgya/al-zuhdu l-fikr.
102 al-iqrr/al-istiqrr (Kitb Btanjal, p. 171/177).
103 Cf. consequent discussion on al-ann, (p. 41).
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 101

The second method is intellectual,104 namely, mental ascesis, which con-


sists in contemplating consequences with the eye of the heart, and in
considering the evil of existents, that come into being and pass away.
For nothing is worse than decay and passing away, these two being over-
whelming in [the existents]. The result of this method is that when the
person recognises evil and filth in all things, his heart flees from all the
goals of this world and the next, and his innermost intellect becomes free
to seek liberation from them, and he is relieved of questions and needs.105

This quotation refers to evil in existents as specific in their finiteness and their
susceptibility to a decay that can overwhelm them, mutariyn bih. Unlike
the sharper dualistic tendency to regard body/matter as intrinsically evil and
to be discarded by the soul, Kitb Btanjal closely parallels the sophisticated
teachings of Patajali, specifically the second method, vairgya, to bring about
concentration, samdhi, in the soul. Patajali states: Dispassion is the knowl-
edge of mastery in one who does not thirst for any object either seen (i.e., of an

104 The intimate relationship between the intellect, al-aql, and the soul, al-nafs, which is
highlighted in the following description of the second method of spiritual ascesis in Kitb
Btanjal is also reflected by Ibn Sns analysis of this relationship: nisbatu l-maliki il
l-madnati wal-aqli il l-nafsi widun. Le rapport du roi la cit et de l intelligence
lme est le mme, Goichon, A., (1938: 226). Furthermore, the activity of the intellect is
likewise, according to Ibn Sns analysis, intimately related to the function of the soul:
faqla m manhu hdh l-aqlu huwa l-taawwurtu wal-tadqtu l-ilatu lil-nafsi
bil-firati. Ce que signifie cette intelligence, dit-il, ce sont les concepts et les assentiments
qui viennent l me par l esprit, Goichon, A., (1938: 226).
105 wal-arqu l-thn aql huwa l-zuhdu l-fikr lladh huwa taammulu l-awqibi bi-ayni
l-qalbi wal-naari f sati l-mawjdti l-kinati l-fsidati fa-l shayun aswau mina l-
fani wal-fasdi wa hum mutariyni bih, wa malu hdh l-arqi anna l-insna
idh arafa l-sharra wal-radata f jami l-ashyi nafara qalbuhu an kulli l-maqidi l-
dunywiyyati wal-ukhrwiyyati wa khalua amruhu li-alabi l-khali minh wa irtafaati
l-asilatu wal-jtu anhu, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 1). Cf. Stra i. 16, Indifference To
The Gunas Or The Constituent Principles Achieved Through A Knowledge Of The Nature
Of The Purua Is Called Paravairgya (Extreme Detachment). Also Vysa on this Stra:
Through the practice of the effort to realise the Purua-principle, the Yogin having seen
the faulty nature of all objects visible or described in the scriptures, gets a clarity of vision
and steadiness in Sttvika [of the sentient principle] qualities. Such a Yogin edified with a
discriminative knowledge and with sharpened and chastened intellect becomes indiffer-
ent to all manifest and unmanifested states of the three Gunas or constituent principles
[al-quw l-thalth (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 7)] Detachment is the highest form of knowl-
edge [al-zuhdu l-fikr?], and Kaivalya (or Isolation) and detachment are inseparable.
102 chapter 4

earthly nature) or heard of (i.e., of the subtle worlds).106 There is not only a cor-
respondence here in terms of the language used to describe al-zuhdu l-fikr as
deriving from knowledge,107 and relating to any object either seen or heard
of,108 but also the implication that al-zuhdu l-fikr does not imply a simple
turning away from existents/[physical] things,109 becoming indifferent through
intermittent withdrawal; rather, it means the pursuit of intellectual ascesis by
means of the consideration110 of existents/[physical] things111 devoid of attach-
ment.112
Al-zuhdu l-fikr, then, is knowledge wherein the eye of the heart113 and the
innermost intellect114 both of which, it could be argued, are faculties of the soul
(given the nature of purua as both seer and innermost self), become aware of
and disengaged from misidentification with the seeable objects of body/mat-
ter.115 Thus in contrast to the dualism of Samkhya, Kitb Btanjal, like yoga,
does not reduce the issue to a simple dichotomy with the soul triumphant over
body/matter. Al-zuhdu l-fikr is not so much an act of dispassion or detachment
as it is a state of understanding and insight.116 According to Patajali dispassion
is a knowledge of mastery117 resulting from a genuine persistence on the part
of the individual to disengage the intellect from everything that is inimical118 to
its steadiness in practice,119 thereby generating freedom120 from the affliction
that results from attachment.121
Unlike the first two paths to liberation, al-tawd and al-zuhdu l-fikr, that
seem to function in a similarly interdependent manner as their yogic equiv-
alents, the promotion of devotion122 completes the triptych whose common

106 ge, K.S., (1904: i. 15, p. 18).


107 al-taammul/al-naaru f sati l-mawjdti (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 1).
108 al-maqidi l-dunywiyyati wal-ukhrwiyyati (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 4).
109 al-mawjdt/al-ashy (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 2/4).
110 al-naar (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 2).
111 al-mawjdt/al-ashy (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 2/4).
112 al-khalu minh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 4).
113 aynu l-qalbi.
114 al-amr.
115 khalua amruhu li-alabi l-khali minh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 4).
116 al-taammul/al-naaru f sati l-mawjdti/idh arafa (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172).
117 Whicher, I., (1998: 176178).
118 al-sharru wal-radatu (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 3).
119 al-tawd.
120 al-khal (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 4).
121 al-shadidu fil-withqi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 6), The afflictions in bondage.
122 al-ibda/bhakti.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 103

denominator is the souls attainment of liberation by spiritual praxis through


the state of incarnate existence, rather than through a process of pure disen-
gagement from body/matter:

The postulant said: is there a way to liberation other than the two ways
of habituated action and intellectual ascesis? [Patajali] answered: it
is attained by devotion which spreads from the body on the basis of
knowledge, certainty, and sincerity in the heart and on the basis of praise,
exaltation, and laudation with the tongue, and on action with the limbs.
God alone and nothing else is aimed at in all of these, so that success
should come from Him in order to achieve eternal bliss.123

Significantly, the fundamental concept that drives the passage on devotion124


is expressed by the phrase, by devotion which spreads from the body.125 This
phrase corresponds to the concept of immanence proceeding from devotion
in the full translation of Stra i. 23 of the Yoga-Stra: From Special Devotion
To Ivara Also Concentration Becomes Immanent.126
Pines and Gelblum, who quote only part of the Stra regarding this pas-
sage,127 amend Ritters original reading of tatawazza128 into tunza129a term
reflecting neither the meaning of the Stra nor its commentary by Vysa. Pines
and Gelblum, therefore, translate the phrase, tunzau mina l-badani (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9), as withdrawal from the body (Pines and Gelblum, p. 319).
This allows compliance with the preconceived notions about the role of a the-
oretical, even Peripatetic dualism, in Kitb Btanjal as expressed in the intro-

123 qla l-silu: fa-hal il l-khali sablun al ghayri arqayi l-tawdi wal-zuhdi? qla l-
mujbu: yunlu bil-ibdati wa hiya tatawazzau mina l-badani al marifatin wa yaqnin
wa ikhlin bil-qalbi, wa al tamjdin wa thanin wa tasbin bil-lisni, wa al amalin bil-
jawrii, yuqadu f jamih allhu wadah dna ghayrihi li-yakna l-tawfqu min indihi
li-nayli l-sadati l-abadiyyati, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 8). Cf. Stra i. 23, From Special
Devotion [al-ibda?] To Ivara Also Concentration Becomes Imminent. Also Vysa on
this Stra, Through a special kind of devotion called vara Pranidhna on the part of the
devotee, vara inclines towards him and favours him with grace for fulfilment of his wish.
124 al-ibda/bhakti (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9).
125 bil-ibdati wa hiya tatawazzau mina l-badani (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9).
126 Mukerji, P.N., (1963).
127 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966). Cf. pranidhna in stra 1.23: vara-pranidhnd v Or
(the self near the goal) is attained by devotion to the Ivara. Footnote 163.
128 This may correspond to the concept of immanence in Stra i. 23 that parallels question 11
of Kitb Btanjal as well as the commentary of this Stra by Vysa.
129 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966), footnote 164.
104 chapter 4

duction to their translation.130 These notions are driven by the assumption that
A Platonic-Aristotelian background is evident in this translation.131
This assumption is based on translating philosophical notions into what
is debatably referred to as Aristotelian terminology evincing al-Brns pre-
sumed sympathies so that Kitb Btanjal becomes, effectively, an operative
or functional attempt to Aristotelianise Patajalis Yoga-Stra by means of
paraphrasing.132 They are also governed by the fact that al-Brn was a Mus-
lim, so that in this major characteristic of his translation as well as in its minor
characteristics, that likewise exhibit a good deal of islamization, his own inter-
pretation, conditioned by his own cultural orientation, might have been at
work.133 Finally, further seeking to underscore al-Brns Aristotelianisation,
Pines and Gelblum assert that he relied to a considerable extent on his own
intelligence and autodidactic capacity in studying the Stras and their com-
mentary.134 This, they argue, explains the incorrect rendering of terms and
the misunderstanding of a Sanskrit text135 that often does not tally with their
imposed Aristotelian template.
The inclusion of the key concept of devotion as the third path to liberation
underlines an Islamically-orientated methodology based on a monistic and
monotheistic reading of Patajalis Yoga-Stra, specifically on the soul/body
dynamic in Kitb Btanjal and the Hind. The use of the Islamic term al-ibda136
occurs, as touched on above, in a passage that reflects Stra i. 23, which includes
the elusive but significant Sanskrit term vara-pranidhna. The term is applica-
ble to three types of action, all of which are central to the Islamic understanding
of this term: (a) bodily activity,137 (b) verbal prayer,138 and (c) mental contem-
plation.139 In translating this Sanskrit term in Stra i. 23 the Islamic concept
used is al-ibda,140 devotion, and God alone and nothing else is aimed at in
all of these.141

130 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966).


131 Pines and Gelblum, p. 306, l. 26.
132 Pines and Gelblum, p. 307, l. 33.
133 Pines and Gelblum, p. 305, l. 18.
134 Pines and Gelblum, p. 305, l. 27.
135 Pines and Gelblum, p. 307, l. 10.
136 Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9.
137 amalun bil-jawrii (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 10), actions with the limbs.
138 tasbun bil-lisni (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 10), laudation with the tongue.
139 al marifatin wa yaqnin wa ikhlin bil-qalbi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9), on the basis of
knowledge, certainty, and sincerity in the heart. Pines, and Gelblum, (1977: 522549).
140 Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9.
141 yuqadu f jamih allhu wadah dna ghayrihi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 11).
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 105

This translation of the term vara-pranidhna is consistently used in later


passages of Kitb Btanjal such as that which reflects Stra ii. 1 where the
words used are al-ibdt142 and wa kullu m yuqadu bihi dhtu llhi tala
yutaqarrabu bihi ilayhi,143 and all that through which the essence of God, may
He be exalted, is sought and by means of which one may come near Him. This
consistency in the translation of such an important term indicates an under-
standing of the subtle and interrelated nature of terminology used in these
Stras and that the Islamic interpretative frame being applied is constantly and
carefully maintained both in the choice of specific terms used as well as in the
contextual and psychological progression from Kitb Btanjal to the Hind.
The sensitive reflection of the meanings of terms described in these Stras
demonstrates an awareness of tapas/asceticism,144 svdhyya/self-study,145
and vara-pranidhna/devotion, in a frame that betrays Islamic traits: and
all that through which the essence of God, may He be exalted, is sought and
by means of which one may come near Him.146 The specific terms are closely
interconnected in the one, fully integrated, Islamic process of devotion.
The third path described in Kitb Btanjal is bhakti-yoga. Bhakti is a major
aspect of Krsnas teaching, being the surest path by which the devotee ap-
proaches the supreme Person and thereby attains grace. Krsna declares: Of all
yogins, one who worships Me full of faith and whose inner self abides in Me-
that one I consider to be nearest to my vision.147 Bhakti-yoga became one of
the central teachings on yoga in the Bhagavadgta and in much of the Brh-
manic devotional literature that followed. This and the selective reliance on
Hindu teachings from a variety of Sanskrit texts both in Kitb Btanjal and the
Hind is a key indication of the non-dualistic tendency that underpins their pre-
sentation in the Hind. A noteworthy instance is the parallel between the three
paths described in Kitb Btanjal and the three approaches of jna-yoga,

142 Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 14.


143 Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 15.
144 itbu l-badani mina l-awmi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 14), tiring the body through
fasting. Cf. Stra ii. 1, Tapas (Austerity), Svdhyya (Repetition Of Sacred Mantras Or
Study Of Sacred Literature) And vara Pranidhna (Complete Surrender To God) Are
Kriy Yoga (Yoga In The Form Of Action).
145 The concept of this term is generally recapitulated in the Arabic phrase, al marifatin
wa yaqnin wa ikhlin bil-qalbi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9), on the basis of knowledge,
certainty, and sincerity in the heart.
146 wa kullu m yuqadu bihi dhtu llhi tal yutaqarrabu bihi ilayhi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177,
l. 15).
147 Whicher, I., (1998: 25).
106 chapter 4

karma-yoga, and bhakti-yoga detailed earlier. There is also the possible influ-
ence on Kitb Btanjal of Rmnuja148 (eleventh century), the founder of the
Viistdvaita school of Vednta and the leading theologian and philosopher
of the medieval bhakti movement. For Rmnuja, as in Kitb Btanjal, bhakti
is firmly rooted in wisdom ( jna): Through devotion that spreads from the
body on the basis of knowledge.149 The highest devotee is a knower ( jnin),
of the Lord. Similarly, just as Kitb Btanjal concludes its first section with a dis-
cussion of the nature of God that derives directly from an elaboration of bhakti,
so too in his approach Rmnuja sought to integrate jna-yoga, karma-yoga,
and bhakti-yoga but also emphasised union with the Lord ultimately through
bhakti:150 God alone and nothing else is aimed at in all of these.151 Al-Brns
selective reliance on a number of Hindu teachings from a variety of Sanskrit
texts both in Kitb Btanjal and the Hind reveals a non-dualistic tendency
underpinned by the Islamic frame of interpretation that he adheres to through-
out.

3 Section ii: Guidance towards Praxis

Section ii of Kitb Btanjal draws attention to the discipline required to achieve


liberation, al-khal: The second section on guidance towards the praxis of
that which preceded it in the first section.152 Al-Brn begins by describing
those afflictions that burden the heart and keep the soul in a state of entan-
glement:

The postulant said: what are these afflictions that burden the heart?
[Patajali] answered: they are ignorance, conjecture, desire, hatred, and
the attachments. The greatest of these is ignorance, which stands in
relation to them as the root and basis. Mans destruction is through them,
or through most of them.153

148 See Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966).


149 bil-ibdati wa hiya tatawazzau mina l-badani al marifatin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9).
150 Lipner, J., The Face of Truth: A Study of Meaning and Metaphysics in the Vedntic Theology
of Rmnuja. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986; and Lester, R.C., Rmnuja
on the Yoga. Madras, 1976.
151 yuqadu f jamih allhu wadahu dna ghayrihi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 11).
152 al-qiatu l-thniyatu f irshdin il amalin m kna taqaddama f l-qiati l-l (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 183, l. 18).
153 qla l-silu: wa m hdhihi l-athqlu llat tadu l-qalba? qla l-mujbu: hiya l-jahlu wal-
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 107

The five opinions listed in Kitb Btanjal reflect, although problematically


and inconclusively, the five afflictions, kleas, listed at the outset of the second
chapter of the Yoga-Stra, Avidy (Misapprehension about the real nature of
things), Asmit (Egoism), Rga (Attachment), Dvea (Antipathy) and Abhini-
vea (Fear, of death), Are the five Kleas (Afflictions).154
The great yoga authority Vysa (c.a. fifth/sixth century) explains the kleas
in his commentary on the Yoga-Stra, the Yoga-Bhsya,155 which demonstrates
the detailed sophistication of the understanding and interpretative undertak-
ing reflected in the language of Kitb Btanjal. Vysa states in the Yoga-Bhsya,
This ignorance is fivefold, namely the afflictions (Kleas): ignorance,156 I-am-
ness, attachment, aversion, desire for continuity.157
A problematic example of the subtle commentarial nature of Kitb Btan-
jal may be gleaned from the use of the term al-ann, conjecture, to reflect
the Sanskrit asmit Egoism/I-am-ness. The philosophy of Yoga, in contrast to
that of Samkhya, recognises the citta: the one mind that impels the many
individualised minds.158 The citta, becoming operative in a single personal-
ity, appears individual. Thus, as indicated in Yoga-Stra iv. 4, the numerous
fabricated, individualised minds (nirmna-cittas) are said to arise from asmit-
mtrathe ontological principle denoting the exclusive sense of I-am-ness.159
An awareness of this ontological principle is reflected in a parallel passage of
Kitb Btanjal:

The postulant said:160 if the afore-mentioned renunciant is able to mag-


nify that which is small and increase that which is scant and then is able to

annu wal-raghbatu wal-adwtu wal-aliqu llat muamuh l-jahlu l-qimu lah


maqma l-ali wal-qidati, wa bih aw bi-aktharih halku l-mari (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177,
l. 21). Cf. Stra ii. 2, That Kriy-Yoga (Should Be Practised) For Bringing About Samdhi
[intense concentration] And Minimising The Kleas [al-athql?].
154 Mukerji, P.N., (1963: Stra ii. 3, p. 129).
155 ge, K.S., (ed.), The Yoga-Stra of Patajali. Pune, 1904.
156 Possibly al-jahl, ignorance, in Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 1.
157 Yoga-Bhsya, i. 8, p. 13.
158 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: chapter 3).
159 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: chapter 3).
160 qla l-silu: inna l-zhida l-madhkra idh qadara al tami l-aghri wa takthri l-qalli
thumma jaala badanahu abdnan lil-tawuni al maqdin widin fa-hal yaknu tilka
l-abdnu bi-qulbin aw bi-qalbin aw bil qalbin qla l-mujbu: yakhtau kullu widin
minh bi-qalbin wa l yastabiddu aaduh bi-shayin dna l-khari att takhtalifa wa
innam hiya abdnun wa qulbun munbaithatun minhu fal-alu huwa l-awwalu wal-
bqiyatu tawbiuhu (Kitb Btanjal, p. 193, l. 20).
108 chapter 4

transform his body into many in order [for them] to assist [each other] in
the pursuit of one aim, would these bodies exist with many hearts [minds]
or with one or with none161 [Patajali] answered: each one of them
[bodies] has its own exclusive heart [mind] and none of them possesses
anything which the other [does not have] that would make them differ-
ent from each other, rather, they are bodies and hearts [minds] that issue
from him. The source, then, is the first [body] and the rest are consequent
to it.162

According to Vysa, Yoga-Stra iv. 4 is alleged to have been composed in reply


to the question, also reflected in the above quotation from Kitb Btanjal:
(Opponent:) Well, when a yogin projects several bodies, do they have one
mind between them or a mind each?163 The response appears in Yoga-Stra
iv. 5: One Mind Is The Director Of The Many Created Minds In Respect Of
The Variety Of Their Activities.164 According to Feuersteins understanding
of this Stra, the one consciousness [mind ys iv. 5] is none other than
the primary I-am-ness (asmit-mtra) of aphorism iv. 4.165 Thus the choice
in Kitb Btanjal of the word al-ann, conjecture, to reflect or replace the
Sanskrit asmit indicates an awareness on al-Brns part of the problematic
nature of the term asmit in this particular context. It suggests an interpretive
decision by him in expressing the Sanskrit asmit with the Arabic al-ann to
convey the implied sense of discernment that is not at its subtlest level in
asmit.
Such a speculative argument about the choice of the word al-ann where a
closer Arabic term for asmit is perfectly conceivable can only remain specu-
lation. Indeed, the unsettled reflection in Kitb Btanjal of the remaining four
Kleas is just as problematic and unresolvable. According to Whicher, under the
influence of spiritual ignorance (avidy) the reflected consciousness, misiden-

161 Cf. Vysa on Stra iv. 4, When the Yogin constructs many bodies, have they only one mind
or many minds?
162 Cf. Stra iv. 5, One Mind Is The Director Of The Many Created Minds In Respect Of The
Variety Of Their Activities. Also Vysa on this Stra, How is it that the intentions of one
mind regulate the activities of many minds? The Yogin creates one mind as the director of
the many created minds, and this accounts for the difference in activities.
163 Yoga-Bhsya, iv. 3, p. 178.
164 Mukerji, P.N., (1963: 385).
165 Feuerstein, G., The Yoga-Stra of Patajali: A New Translation and Commentary. Folkstone,
1979, p. 129.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 109

tified as purua, appears as the affliction (klea) of I-am-ness (asmit).166 It is a


similar sense of a reflected consciousness, meaning an imperfect and uncer-
tain discernment that may or may not be implied in the choice of the term
al-ann as it is defined, for instance, by Ibn Sn:167 True conjecture is a view
on a matter being the case, while it is possible that it is not the case.168
For Patajali and Kitb Btanjal the entanglement169 of the observer and
the observed,170 the knower and the known,171 purua and prakrti, the
bodily mould,172 causes all afflictions and dissatisfaction173 because it gives rise
to the incorrect understanding that ones intellectual identity is defined within
the limits of the individualised being:

Because of resemblance it appears to him that they [things/objects] are


one existent/thing, just as when he conjectures that the corporeal subject
which intellects and the simple intellect are, in the matter of existence,
one thing.174

Both Patajali and Kitb Btanjal understand this entanglement to be caused


by the ignorance175 that is the primary affliction and origin of all afflictions:176

[Patajali] answered: ignorance is in reality the hindrance to liberation.


The other [afflictions] that come after it, even if they bring about bondage,
go back to ignorance. Ignorance is their source and origin, and entangle-
ment has no cause other than it.177

166 Whicher, I., (1998: 110).


167 Goichon, A., (1938: 209), zann, opinion, connaissance prsume, mais non pas certaine.
168 al-annu l-aqqu huwa rayun f shayin annahu kadh wa yumkinu an l yakna kadh, in
Goichon, A., (1938: 209).
169 al-irtibk (Kitb Btanjal, p. 179, l. 19).
170 al-nir/al-manr (Hind, p. 1, l. 1).
171 al-lim/al-malmt (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 16).
172 al-qlibu l-jasadn (Kitb Btanjal, p. 179, l. 15).
173 al-athql (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 20), burdens.
174 wa yukhayyalu ilayhi bi-sababi l-mushbahati annah shayun widun mithla l-qili l-
mutajassimi wal-aqli l-basi idh annah f l-wujdi shayan widan (Kitb Btan-
jal, p. 178, l. 13). Cf. Stra ii. 6, Asmit Or Egoism Is The Appearance Of Identity Of
The Purua [al-aqlu l-basu/ seeing-agent?] Or Consciousness And Buddhi [al-qilu l-
mutajassimu?].
175 avidy/al-jahl (Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 1).
176 kleas/al-athql (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 20).
177 qla l-mujbu: al-jahlu huwa l-mniu bil-aqqati ani l-khali wa siri m badah wa in
110 chapter 4

Ignorance is, therefore, also the root of the other afflictions or burdens,178
namely, egoism, in Kitb Btanjal reflected by conjecture,179 attachment,180
aversion,181 and the desire for continuity or the instinctive fear of death.182
Metaphorically speaking, the seeds, that represent impressions of pleasur-
able experiences, germinate and give rise to a state of attachment:

Has entanglement a cause other than this the analogy of the soul with
regard to these factors may be compared to a grain of rice within its
husk.183

This state leads towards the attainment of the object of pleasure or desire. Yet
in a seeming opposition to attachment, the emotive core of the phenomenon
of aversion184 is provoked by the recollection of pain:185

knat daw l-withqi fa-il l-jahli marjauh wa huwa yunbuh wa madanuh wa laysa
lil-irtibki sababun ghayruh, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 179, l. 20).
178 al-athql (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 20).
179 al-ann (Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 13), wa amm l-annu fa-ishtibhu l-ashyi att l
yumayyazu baynah, compare with Stra ii. 6, Asmit Or Egoism Is The Appearance Of
Identity .
180 Possibly al-raghba (Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 16), desire, although, given the apparent poor
quality of the single extant manuscript and the abundance of alternative readings offered
by Ritter at this point (Kitb Btanjal, p. 178), this word might be read al-rahba, fear,
which would more closely reflect the fifth affliction, Abhinivea, fear of death, desire for
continuity.
181 Possibly al-adwt (Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 19), hatred.
182 Problematic in the Arabic, possibly al-aliq (Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 21) which may or
may not convey the sense of an instinctive attachment to life or desire for continuity
that is an additional connotation of the Sanskrit term Abhinivea, and, consequently, an
instinctive fear of death. However, given the alternative reading of al-rahba, fear, for
al-raghba, desire, the Arabic term al-rahba may suitably reflect Abhinivea, fear of death,
desire for continuity, with al-aliq conveying the affliction of Rga, attachment.
183 fa-hal yaknu lil-irtibki sababun ghayru dhlika mithla l-nafsi fm baynah kal-
aruzzi f imni l-qishri (Kitb Btanjal, p. 179, l. 19). Cf. Vysa on Stra ii. 13, Karmaya
[latent impression of action which will eventually fructify] begins to fructify when there
is Klea [pain/affliction] at its root; but it does not do so when Klea is uprooted. As rice
when in the husk and not reduced to the burnt condition, can germinate but does not do
so when the chaff is removed or reduced to a parched state, so Karmaya when based on
Klea, is capable of producing consequences, but when Klea is removed or through acqui-
sition of knowledge it is reduced to a burnt state, it does not produce any consequence.
184 al-adwt.
185 Feuerstein, G., (1990).
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 111

The postulant said: what is the state of the soul when it reaches [the stage]
between reward and sin, and thereupon becomes entrapped in the prison
of births for the purpose of [receiving] benefit and punishment? [Pata-
jali] answered: it oscillates according to what it has done previously and
perpetrated, between comfort and discomfort, and alternates between
pain and pleasure.186

Thus attachment and aversion dwell in the state187 of pleasure and pain.188
What Kitb Btanjal seems to illustrate here is that in general terms the soul
exists in an ensnared state of constant oscillation189 between good and evil,
pleasure and pain. The compulsive forces of egoism/opinion, attachment, aver-
sion and desire, the causes of dissatisfaction or burdens,190 can only be
uprooted through the removal of ignorance191 by means of yoga praxis192 that
brings about the souls transcendence from all afflictions:

If the knower is not separated from the known objects (sensibilia) he is


with them, and consequently, because of this conjunction between him
and them, he is not liberated. For this conjunction only actually exists
because of some form of ignorance.193

Thus, and against the dualistic approach that argues for the complete separa-
tion of soul from matter, an alternative approach is illustrated in Kitb Btanjal

186 qla l-silu: kayfa yaknu lu l-nafsi idh aalat bayna l-ujri wal-thmi thumma
ishtabakat bi-absi l-mawldi lil-inmi wal-intiqmi? qla l-mujbu: turaddadu bi-asabi
m qaddamat wa ijtaraat fm bayna ratin wa shiddatin wa tuarrafu bayna alamin wa
ladhdhatin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 5). Cf. Stra ii. 14, Because Of Virtue And Vice They
(Birth, Span And Experience) Produce Pleasurable And Painful Experiences. Also Vysa
on this Stra, They i.e., the species in which birth takes place, the span of life and the
experience therein, produce happiness if caused by virtue, while they produce misery if
caused by vice.
187 al-l (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 5).
188 alamun wa ladhdhatun (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 8).
189 al-taraddud.
190 al-athql (Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 20).
191 al-jahl (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 18).
192 al-ittid.
193 idh lam yanfaili l-limu mina l-malmti kna maah fa-lam yatakhalla min ajli dh-
lika l-ittili lladh baynahu wa baynah, fa-inna hdh l-ittila l yaknu bil-aqqati
ill an jahlin m (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 16). Cf. Stra ii. 17, Identification Of The Seer Or
The Subject [al-lim?] With The Seen Or The Object [al-malmt?] Is The Cause Of The
Avoidable.
112 chapter 4

and the Hind that is the process of the souls liberation. Initially, this is achieved
through progressive stages of removing any misidentification with intellected
existents: If the knower is not separated from the known objects (sensibilia)
he is with them, and consequently, because of this conjunction between him
and them, he is not liberated.194 Secondly, this is achieved through eradi-
cating ignorance, the primary affliction defined in both the Yoga-Stra and
Kitb Btanjal: Ignorance is in reality the hindrance to liberation. The other
(afflictions) that come after it, even if they bring about bondage, go back to
ignorance.195 This process culminates in liberation which, far from resulting
in the souls separation from matter, actually implies that one of the fruits in
the praxis of the three methods of spiritual ascesis detailed in Kitb Btanjal
may be thought of as a realignment of soul with matter by means of unifica-
tion.196
Thus, the practical as well as philosophical discipline of yoga, as reflected in
Kitb Btanjal, offers a sophistication and meaning to bodily existence that is
noticeably lacking in the dualistic vision of both Samkhya and the Peripatetic
tradition:

He is like a crystal in which that which surrounds it can be seen, so that


things are in it, whereas it is external to them. In the same way he contains
that which encompasses him, so that when knowledge and the known
objects (sensibilia) are united in him, the knower, then the intellect, the
intellector, and the intellected become a single whole in him.197

194 Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 16.


195 al-jahlu huwa l-mniu bil-aqqati ani l-khali wa siri m badah wa in knat daw
l-withqi fa-il l-jahli marjauh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 179, l. 20).
196 al-ittid.
197 wa mathaluhu kal-billawrati yur fh m awlah fa-taknu l-ashyu fh wa-hiya khri-
jatun anh, kadhlika huwa yataammanu m aa bihi att idh ttaada l-ilmu wal-
malmtu bihi wa-huwa l-limu ra l-aqlu wal-qilu wal-maqlu fhi shayan widan
(Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 10). Cf. i. 41, When The Fluctuations Of The Mind Are Weakened
The Mind Appears To Take On The Features Of The Object Fixed OnWhether It Be The
Cogniser, The Instrument Of Cognition Or The Object CognisedAs Does A Transparent
Jewel, And This Identification Is Called Sampatti Or Engrossement. Also Vysa on this
Stra, The case of a precious (flawless) gem has been taken as an example. As a crystal
being influenced by the colour of an article adjacent to it appears to be tinged by it, so
the mind resting on a subject, appears to be engrossed in it and appears to take on its
nature.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 113

Whereas the conjunction198 of the knower and the known objects (sensi-
bilia) originates in ignorance,199 unification200 of the intellector and the
intellected201 is achieved through the unification of knowledge and that
which is known in him.202 This is the crucial factor involved in removing the
entanglement,203 of the knower and the known objects (sensibilia), the
knower becomes knowing through the known in the site of entrapment.204
That is, unification takes place through the discernment of the processes of
knowing205 taking place within the knower on the basis of knowledge.206
Thus the nature of the intellected207 assumes an epistemological emphasis
rather than an ontological one:

The sensed objects of knowledge do not exist with the fixed certainty of
the intelligibilia. When this is established with certitude that is not open
to any doubt, this conjunction has no further purpose. The knower is
separated from the objects of knowledge and as a consequence becomes
alone and isolated. This is the concept208 of liberation.209

198 al-ittil (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 17).


199 al-jahl (Kitb Btanjal, p. 180, l. 18). Cf. Vysa/ Stra ii. 24, The alliance of the individual
consciousness or Purusa [al-nafs] (Pratyak-Chetana) and the co-related Buddhi [al-qalb?],
has Avidy Or Nescience As Its Cause. Nescience is the latent subconscious impression
or Vsan of wrong knowledge.
200 ittaada (Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11).
201 qilun wal-maqlu (Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11).
202 ittaada l-ilmu wal-malmtu bihi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11).
203 al-irtibk (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 14).
204 innam ra l-limu bil-malmi liman f maalli l-irtibki (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 14).
205 ra l-limu bil-malmi liman (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 14).
206 al-ilm (Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11).
207 al-maql (Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11).
208 For the translation of the term al-man as concept, cf. ei2 Man: In philosophy.
This term is used to translate a number of Greek expressions. Man is frequently used
as a synonym of mal corresponding to the Greek noma, a concept, thought or idea.
Sometimes mal is used to translate the term concept (as in al-Frbs commentary on
Aristotles De Interpretatione) and sometimes man (as in his commentary on Aristotles
De Intellectu). An interesting comparison is made in the same article regarding Ibn Sns
use of this term: It is in a similar sense that Ibn Sn identifies a form in the soul with a
man, a meaning or notion, which in mediaeval epistemology has the technical sense of
natural sign in the soul The expressions man mala, intelligible notions, or man,
or just malt, are often found in Ibn Sn, all frequently translated as intellecta. On the
definition of man cf. also Frank, R.M., (1967: 248259; 1981: 259319).
209 wa laysa lil-malmti l-issiyyati aqqatun thbitatun thabta l-maqlti, fa mat stay-
114 chapter 4

The knower, when in a state of conjunction, conforms to an identity that is


contained within the known and is shaped by a process of discernment based
on knowledge whilst still in matter. This state of conjunction terminates when
certainty beyond doubt, through the intelligibilia, is attained.
The specific vision of the knowable in Kitb Btanjal is a representation of
Yoga-Stra ii. 18 and, possibly, its commentary by Vysa: and the cognition (of
the known object) in terms of its nature, whether it belongs to the class of pure
good or to the class of pure evil or to the class that is a mixture of the two.210
The term al-jins, class/type, seems to reflect the idea projected by Vysa
of the three Gunas211 of matter, described in his commentary to Yoga-Stra
ii. 18: Sentience is the characteristic of Sattva, mobility of Rajas and inertia
of Tamas. These three Gunas are distinct though mutually related.212 Kitb
Btanjal represents the three Gunas of sattva,213 rajas,214 and tamas,215 using
the Neoplatonic terms of the absolute good, al-khayru l-mau, and the
absolute evil, al-sharru l-mau, or a mixture of the two, al-jinsu l-mumtaziju
baynahum.
Here, mirroring Patajali, the known216 expresses the nature of the ele-
ments and the senses and serves the dual purpose of experience and eman-
cipation, The Object Or Knowable Is By Nature Sentient, Mutable and Inert. It
Exists In The Form Of Elements And Sense-Organs, And Serves The Purpose of
Experience and Emancipation:217

The intention with regard to each known [object] seen by him [the know-
er] is the cognition of its element, namely, that of the five [elements] it is.
[By the five elements] I mean earth, water, fire, wind and sky This cog-
nition comes about through the intermediary of sensory perception218

qana dhlika min ghayri shakkin yatariu fhi baula dhlika l-ittilu wa infaala l-limu
ani l-malmti fa-nfarada wa tajarrada, wa dhlika man l-khali (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 181, l. 20). Cf. Stra ii. 25, The Absence Of Alliance That Arises From Want Of It Is The
Escape And That Is The State Of Isolation Of The Seer.
210 wa marifatuhu bil-kayfiyyati ahuwa min jinsi l-khayri l-mai aw min jinsi l-sharri l-
mai aw mina l-jinsi l-mumtaziji baynahum (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 2).
211 Qualities/constituents.
212 Mukerji, P.N., (1963: 176).
213 Sentience/intelligence.
214 Mobility/activity.
215 Inertia/darkness.
216 al-malm (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 1).
217 Mukerji, P.N., (1963: 176).
218 inna l-maqda min kulli malmin yarhu huwa marifatuhu bil-unuri min ayyi l-kham-
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 115

According to Pines and Gelblum, the differences between Patajali and al-
Brn regarding the Gunas, constituent elements, ultimately amounts to a
misunderstanding on his part of a definition of bhoga experience ,219 and Al-
Brn may have misinterpreted the difficult expression avibhgpannam (or a
similar expression). He may have believed that in this context avibhga, lit. lack
of separation, refers to a mixture of gunas.220 Yet to approach Kitb Btan-
jal uncompromisingly as a bald translation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali for a
Muslim readership is to underplay its evaluative and creative role in the sophis-
ticated and analytical continuum between it and the Hind. Indeed, it seems
that the tripartite division in Kitb Btanjal of the known into particular man-
ifestations is correlated with states of consciousness, discernment, and identity
analogous to the soul: The knower, without a known, is, in itself, a knower in
potentia. The knower is actualised only through the known.221 These manifes-
tations, therefore, are to be understood with an epistemological emphasis
namely, that through the known the knower comes to realise his authentic
identity and thus attains liberation.
The process of liberation is given an additional dimension in this second
section of Kitb Btanjal that involves the souls gradual disentanglement from
sense perception through a seven-stage progression that includes four outer
and three inner stages of preparation: Seven things happen to him, three of
them in the soul, namely immunity from committing sins and four in the
body.222
Bodily withdrawal is now possible if one pursues the Classical Yoga system,
often referred to as the eight-limbs, anga, whilst in Kitb Btanjal the system
is understood as eight qualities.223 Exposition of this system spans the second

sati huwa an bih l-aru wal-mu wal-nru wal-ru wal-samu wa hdhihi l-mari-
fatu ilatun bi-wasati l-issi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 1). Cf. Stra ii. 18, The Object Or
Knowable Is By Nature Sentient, Mutable And Inert. It Exists In The Form Of Elements
And Sense-Organs, And Serves The Purpose Of Experience And Emancipation.
219 Pines and Gelblum, p. 540, l. 37.
220 Pines and Gelblum, p. 540, l. 44.
221 inna l-lima bi-ghayri malmin yaknu f dhtihi liman bil-quwwati wa l yakhruju il
l-fili ill bil-malmi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 10). Cf. Stra ii. 20, The Seer Is Absolute
Knower. Although Pure, Modifications (Of Buddhi) Are Overseen By Him.
222 sabatu ashyin yaulu lahu minh thalthatun f l-nafsi hiya l-amnu min iqtirfi l-
thmi wa arbaun f l-badani (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 1). Cf. Stra ii. 27, Seven Kinds
Of Ultimate Insight Come To Him (The Yogin Who Has Acquired Discriminative Discern-
ment).
223 thamn khil (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 8).
116 chapter 4

and third sections of Kitb Btanjal and constitutes the core of the argumen-
tation that emphasises the necessity for a pragmatic continuum that enables
the transformation, rather than transcendence (as in the dualism of Samkhya
or the Peripatetic tradition), of the souls consciousness and identity that alone
can bring about an end to its misidentification and ignorance.224
Within these eight qualities225 the empirical process is dealt with aspect by
aspect in a manner that challenges a pure form of dualism with its bias for
spiritual transcendence through separation from, rather than integration with,
matter. This is the culminating and most prolonged stage of Kitb Btanjal, in
which all actions, intentions, volitions and thoughts are subjected to spiritual
ascesis by which the soul is purified, By means of the qualities that render the
knower pure and holy mixing with (this) world.226
Ones actions and interactions in the world are first harmonised through
the application of ethical restraints. The first of the eight qualities227 in Kitb
Btanjal is restraint from evil228 and includes five important moral obli-
gations. These are: nonviolence,229 truthfulness, not plundering, sexual re-
straint,230 and finally, dispassion toward the worldly.231 Like their equivalents
in the Yoga-Stra of Patajali, restraint from evil232 in Kitb Btanjal involves
refraining from actions that limit the souls ability to discern whilst it exists in
its incarnate state within the material world:

224 Whicher, I., (1998: 348349).


225 al-khil.
226 bil-khili llat tuayyiru l-lima hiran muqaddasan al-ikhtilu bil-duny (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 182, l. 6). Cf. Stra ii. 28, Through The Practice Of The Different Accessories
To Yoga When Impurities Are Destroyed, Then There Arises Enlightenment Of Perception
Culminating In Discriminative Discernment.
227 Cf. Stra ii. 29, Yama (Restraint), Niyama (Observance), sana (Posture), Prnyma
(Regulation Of Breath), Pratyhra (Withholding Of Senses), Dhran (Fixity), Dhyna
(Meditation) And Samdhi (Perfect Concentration) Are The Eight Means Of Attaining
Yoga.
228 al-kaff ani l-sharri (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 8).
229 tarku l-adh (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 9). Cf. Stra ii. 30, Ahims (Harmlessness), Satya
(Truth), Asteya (Abstention From Stealing), Brahmacharya (Continence) And Aparigraha
(Non-Grasping, Abstinence From Avariciousness) Are The Five Yamas (Forms Of
Restraint).
230 al-taarruju ani l-kadhibi wal-ghaabi wal-zin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 9).
231 mujnabatu l-ikhtili bil-duny (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 9).
232 al-kaff ani l-sharri.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 117

Whoever sets himself apart from the world and does not merge with it
sees his previous state before he entered this material mould.233

According to Kitb Btanjal these moral obligations must be practised irrespec-


tive of place234 or time,235 thus they are unconditionally valid and demonstrate
the moral integrity that is at the heart of both yoga practice and the exposition
in Kitb Btanjal of a unification rooted in praxis and devotion, al-ibda. It
consequently reflects the application of a recognisably monistic and Islamic
interpretative filter.
The second quality, purity, requires the observance of activities that are
conducive to the quest for spiritual liberation. These include rules for self-
regulation and consist in the observance of moral, physical, and mental
purity.236 Through these regulatory activities the transformation of the souls
consciousness, in its state of interaction in the world, is achieved. The point,
therefore, made in Kitb Btanjal through the exposition of this particular
aspect of yoga is that the liberation of the soul is not by means of escaping from
the world, nor the neglect of personal and moral responsibilities in society, but
quite the opposite.
Once these two qualities237 have been sufficiently grasped and practised, the
postulant238 can focus directly on the body, the most obvious aspect of ones
immediate sense of self, through its quietude which is the third quality.239
Moreover, its proper execution rewards the postulant, by not being harmed
by heat or cold, by not suffering pain from hunger and thirst, and by not feeling
any need.240

233 man tamayyaza mina l-duny wa lam yukhlih alaa al m lihi qabla ulihi
f hdh l-qlibi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 22). Cf. Stra ii. 39, On Perfection In Non-
Acceptance, Knowledge Of Past And Future Existences Arises.
234 al-makn (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 10).
235 al-zamn (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 10).
236 wa amm l-khalatu l-thniyatu wa hiya l-qudsu hiran wa binan (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 183, l. 3). Cf. Stra ii. 40, From The Practice Of Purification, Aversion Towards Ones
Own Body Is Developed And Thus Aversion Grows To Contact With Other Bodies.
237 al-kaffu ani l-sharri and al-quds.
238 al-sil.
239 al-sukn (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 9).
240 bi-an l yataadhdh min arrin aw bardin wa l yataallamu bi-jin wa aashin wa l
yaussu bi-muwijin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 11). Cf. Vysa on Stra ii. 48, When perfection
in sana [seat/posture] is attained, the devotee is not affected by the opposite conditions
like heat and cold etc.
118 chapter 4

From this third quality the fourth, which is the regulation, literally quieten-
ing, of the breath, is developed.241 This fourth quality transcends the internal
and external conditions of the breath and progresses inwardly to deal with
the more subtle phenomena of the heart (mind)242 leading to the removal
of turbidity from within, enabling the individual to act according to his
will.243 The fifth quality is the restraining of the senses.244 The individual
is no longer distracted by external sources,245 allowing his attention to be
focused internally246 and to tackle the more subtle aspects of the souls self-
consciousness.

4 Section iii: The Manner of Recompense

The sixth quality, marking the beginning of the third section of Kitb Btan-
jal, and embodying the fulfilment of the second sections ultimate goal (dis-
cipline as a gradual and hierarchical progress), is concentration: the postu-
lants consciousness as a purely mental process is focused on one thing.247
Meditation, the seventh quality, follows from concentration as its natural con-
tinuation248 and is conceived of as an uninterrupted flow of attention from

241 tasknu l-tanaffusi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 13). Cf. Stra ii. 49, That (sana) Having Been
Perfected, Regulation Of The Flow Of Inhalation And Exhalation Is Prnyma (Breath
Control). Vysas commentary on this Stra has suspension of breath in the translation,
[reflected in the Arabic by the word taskn?] sana having been perfected, the suspension
of both the processes of drawing in of external air and the exhalation of internal air
constitutes a Prnyma.
242 al-qalb.
243 zla an qalbihi m kna alayhi mina l-kudrati fa-qadara al fili m arda (Kitb Btan-
jal, p. 183, l. 14). Cf. Stra ii. 52, By That The Veil Over Manifestation Is Thinned.
244 qabu l-awssi ani l-intishri (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 16). Cf. Stra ii. 54, When
Separated From Their Corresponding Objects, The Senses Follow, As It Were, The Nature
Of The Mind, That Is Called Pratyhra (Restraining Of The Sense-Organs).
245 l yaussu bi-ghayri l-dkhili (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 16).
246 l yarifu anna wara l-ssi shayun ghayruhu (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 16). Cf. Vysa on
Stra ii. 55, Some say that Avyasana or indifference to objects like sights and sounds etc.,
is control of sense-organs.
247 iqrru l-qalbi al shayin widin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 20). Cf. Stra iii. 1, Dhran Or
Attention Is The Minds (Chittas) Fixation On A Particular Point Of Space.
248 idmatu l-fikrati fm staqarra l-qalbu alayhi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 20). Cf. Stra iii.
2, In That Region The Continuous Flow Of The Same Knowledge Is Called Dhyna Or
Meditation.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 119

the heart (mind) to the object of concentration.249 In these last two qual-
ities the heart (mind) becomes the locus for a material sense of self by
apprehending the object completely, increasing the souls relationship with
the object. Thus the distinction between the subject, object and cognition per-
sists.250
Through this practise the eighth quality evolves: the intellect of the individ-
ual becomes so completely absorbed251 in the object that it appears to become
the object.252 Al-ittid involves a complete transformation of the usual mode
of knowing or perceiving: the intellect and mental consciousness transform
from a state of dispersion into one of pure focus.253 Thus there is no distortion
of the object and a pure knowing is attained.254
Through this process one quality builds on and complements the other
leading ultimately to the souls liberation through a growing unification of
mental consciousness or knowledge:

Knowledge regarding them is one,255 for it spreads out from the knower
to the known [objects] so that it is characterised by multiplicity.256 When
he quietens it and cuts off from it dispersal through matter, it becomes
one and, through the third quality, whole. He has not, however, reached
[at this point] the degree of abstract representation stripped of mat-
ter.257

249 l yaqau alayhi adadun fa-yanfaila (Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 20).


250 Whicher, I., (1998: 235238).
251 tattaid (Kitb Btanjal, p. 184, l. 1).
252 att tattaida l-fikratu bil-mutafakkiri fhi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 184, l. 1).
253 al-ikhlu fil-dabi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 184, l. 1). Cf. Stra iii. 3, When The Object Of
Meditation Only Shines Forth In The Mind, As If Devoid Of The Thought Of self Even,
Then It Is Called Samdhi Or Concentration.
254 Whicher, I., (1998: 2931).
255 al-ilmu fh widun liannahu kna yanbaththu mina l-limi il l-malmti fa-tattasimu
bil-kathrati, fa-lamm sakkanahu wa qaaa anhu mawddu l-inbiththi ra widan, wa
f l-thlithati kulliyyan lkinnahu badu lam yablugh rutbata l-taawwuri l-mujarradi bil
mddatin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 184, l. 8).
256 Cf. Stra iii. 10, Peaceful Flow Of The Mind (In A Closed State) Is Ensured By Its Latent
Impressions.
257 Cf. Stra iii. 11, Repression Of Attention To All And Development Of One-Pointedness Is
Called Samdhi-Parinma Or Concentrative Mutation Of The Mind.
120 chapter 4

5 Conclusion

Each of the eight qualities, then, lessens the burden of afflictions on the mind
and body and cuts away at the root causeignorance, that binds258 one to the
cycle of egoic thoughts, actions, habits and their constant oscillation.259 Of
the eight qualities, the last three are inner means and the first five are outer:

The latter three qualities that are referred to in the third section are, as
it were, separate from the first five [qualities] because they are further
removed from the senses and closer to the intellect.260

Advancement through these qualities accomplishes spiritual purification and


progress and leads to the souls self-realisation beyond the individual, incar-
nate, personality. Kitb Btanjal describes this progression, in a manner that
reflects the Yoga-Stra, as a growing unification of mental consciousness that
is the means to self-transcendence and spiritual liberation.
The evident textual interpretation of the eight qualities261 arises in part
because of their sequential nature as a hierarchical and gradual discipline
realised through spiritual progress. These qualities could, from a different per-
spective, be seen not only as complementary, but also as integral, sustaining
each other and giving rise to a transformed sense of identity through an inte-
grated state of being. Having purified and gathered together ones physical,
moral, psychological, and spiritual components, the individual can live in the
world without being enslaved by worldly perspectives and involvement:

As long, therefore, as the heart [mind] has not yet achieved a purification
similar to that of the soul so that they can be united in the unification of
the attribute their mixture is of no benefit and liberation does not come
about.262

258 al-ishtibk.
259 al-taraddud.
260 wa hdhihi l-khilu l-thalthu l-akhratu l-wqiatu f l-qiati l-thlithati kal-munfailati
ani l-khamsi l-l min ajli annah abadu ani l-issi wa aqrabu il l-aqli (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 184, l. 3). Cf. Stra iii. 4, The Three Together On The Same Object Is Called Samyama
[meditation or concentration on the same thing]. Also Vysa here, The three forms of
practice when directed to the same object is called Samyama.
261 al-khil.
262 fa-m lam yuahharu l-qalbu ahratan ka-ahrati l-nafsi att yattaid bi-ittidi l-
ifati lam yanfa ikhtiluhum wa lam yakun khalun (Kitb Btanjal, p. 192, l. 20). Cf.
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 121

This means to spiritual liberation reflects the essential approach that under-
lies Kitb Btanjal, and challenges the stricter dualism of Samkhya and the
Peripatetic tradition. Liberation is arrived at through a non-fragmented sense
of being and a cognitive realignment of the relationship between soul and mat-
ter rather than their separation:

He who seeks knowledge263 should centre his thought in his heart [mind]
which is its source and resting place.264 It would then give it [heart/mind]
a form being united with the soul in such a way that they could not be
separated because of the existence of the soul as knower and the heart
[mind] as alive. This is not difficult for him given that he has totally freed
it [heart/mind] from the world. When he does this he will truly know his
own self and no object of the senses will be hidden from him, be it absent
or distant.265

Pines and Gelblum argue that this passage illustrates that al-Brn, does not
seem to have understood the doctrine concerning the utter distinctness of
purua and prakrti, of which sattva (i.e., the buddhi) is a part, and the ulti-
mate goal that is achieved by full awareness of this distinctness.266 However,
accounting for the inner dynamics and independent Islamic thematic drive of
the work allows for a more considered evaluation of al-Brns commentar-
ial and analytical role. Thus the crucial and sustained concept of unification
of the soul with the body culminating in the above quotation, cannot simply
be described in terms of mistranslation or misunderstanding. On the contrary,

Stra iii. 55, Whether Discriminative Knowledge Is Acquired Or Not, When Equality
Is Established Between The Buddhi-Sattwa And Purusa By Their Purity, Isolation Takes
Place.
263 wa man arda l-ilma fa-lyakun fikratuhu f l-qalbi lladh huwa yanbuhu wa maskanuhu
fa-yatasawwaruhu muttaidan bil-nafsi l yufarriqu baynahum li-kawni l-nafsi limatan
wal-qalbi ayyan, wa l yasiru dhlika alayhi wa qad akhlhu ani l-duny ikhlan wa
mat faala dhlika arafa dhtahu bil-aqqati wa lam yakhf alayhi massun wa ghi-
bun wa budun (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 19).
264 Cf. Stra iii. 34, (By Practising Samyama) On The Heart, Knowledge Of The Mind Is
Acquired.
265 Cf. Stra iii. 35, Experience (Of Pleasure Or Pain) Arises From A Conception Which
Does Not Distinguish Between The Two Extremely Different Entities, viz. Buddhisattwa
[al-qalb?] And Purusa [al-nafs]. Such Experience Exists For Another (i.e., Purusa). That Is
Why Through Samyama On The Distinction Between Buddhi And Purusa, A Knowledge
Regarding Purusa Is Acquired.
266 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 286).
122 chapter 4

Kitb Btanjal exhibits an acute analytical understanding of yoga. Etymolog-


ically it corresponds closely to the concept of unification267 as, arguably, a
praxis and devotion (al-ibda) reflecting the application of a recognisably
monistic and Islamic interpretative filter leading to the true unification of the
soul with the body on the epistemological basis of knowledge.268 Pines and
Gelblum, on the basis of the parallel Stra iii. 35, make no distinction between
al-dht and al-nafs in the above quoted passage claiming that: arafa dhtahu
bil-aqqa knows his own self in its true reality corresponds to purua-jnam
knowledge of the self in stra 3.35. In this sentence [Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 21]
al-dht (and not al-nafs) corresponds to purua.269
The importance of the distinction between al-dht and al-nafs is only appar-
ent when the concept of unification270 is taken into consideration. The sattva
is that part of prakrti that when properly united with purua, on the basis
of knowledge, achieves the true knowledge of self,271 a self272 that is a prod-
uct of the unification and not the distinction of the soul with the body and
which, thereby, has achieved a real engagement with matter. Or as al-Brn
aptly summarizes: No object of the senses will be hidden from him be they
absent or distant.273 Kitb Btanjal moreover does not equate the body with
ensnarement,274 rather, it outlines the epistemological causes by which the
body becomes a snare in order, ultimately, to rectify this association through
yoga praxis or unification275 and liberation.276
The soul/body relationship expressed in the Yoga-Stra is not understood
in terms of an utter distinctness277 but in terms of a removal of karma by
means of recompense for past deeds and refraining from future ones: He who
arrives at the stage of liberation has recompensed in his physical mould his past
actions and divests himself of acting for future reward.278 Second, in terms of
a distinction where the soul exists in a liberated state of union with the body:

267 muttaad (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 19).


268 al-ilm (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 19).
269 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., ibid.
270 muttaad (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 19).
271 arafa dhtahu bil-aqqati (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 21).
272 al-dht.
273 lam yukhf alayhi massun wa ghibun wa budun (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 19).
274 al-ishtibk.
275 al-ittid.
276 al-khal.
277 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 286).
278 wal muntah il darajati l-khali qad istawfh f qlibihi al m l-fili thumma taaala
ani l-iktisbi lil-mustanafi (Hind, p. 62, l. 14).
kitb btanjal: the preface and sections iiii 123

He knows where his soul has come from and where it is going and is thus
able to transfer it [soul] and move it without being stuck to the body in
which the soul [now] moves freely.279

The key word in this passage is muqalqala, which Pines and Gelblum translate
as harassed so that the soul is understood as harassed in the body.280 Yet a
more appropriate translation based on context is, the body in which the soul
[now] moves freely. This suggestion does not depend on a dualistic reading
of the text where the utter distinctness of the soul and the body forces an
interpretation based on the Platonic sma/sma (body/prison) equation.
Pines and Gelblum in fact refer to the fuller and more explanatory equivalent
passage cited in the Hind in which taqalqala is convincingly defined by its
immediate context in terms of my suggested translation here of moves freely:
He frees himself from the net and no longer needs his mould. He moves freely
within it, without being ensnared.281 Indeed, the parallel Stra iii. 38 also
reflects, in translation, a similar context for the proposed meaning of taqalqala
by echoing the Arabic, fanalla ani l-shabakati, and, ghayru mushtabikin:
When The Cause Of Bondage Gets Relaxed And The Movements Of The Mind
Are Known, The Mind Can Get Into Another Body.
The significance of translating taqalqala as moving freely goes to the fun-
damentals of the methodology of Kitb Btanjal. The souls movement within
matter is the consequence of a true epistemological relationship between the
soul and body in a state of unification rather than the utter distinction of
the two. It is a state in which the body is a vessel282 and not a snare or net,283
thus allowing for the souls real engagement with the body rather than being
constrained by it. In some sense this unification of the soul and the body,

279 wa qad alima nafsahu min ayna jat wa il ayna tadhhabu, fa-huwa qdirun alayh bil-
naqli wal-tarki l yatashabbathu bil-badani fa-innah muqalqalatun fhi (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 189, l. 10). Cf. Stra iii. 38, When The Cause Of Bondage Gets Relaxed And The Move-
ments Of The Mind Are Known, The Mind Can Get Into Another Body. Vysa on this
Stra: As the mind is naturally restless, on account of the latent impressions of previous
actions, it gets tied up with the body When the bonds of previous actions become weak
and the movements of the mind over the nerves are known, the yogin can take out the
mind from his own body and throw it into another body.
280 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 258).
281 fanalla ani l-shabakati wa staghn ani l-qlibi wa taqalqala fhi ghayra mushtabikin
(Hind, p. 62, l. 15).
282 al-qlib.
283 al-shabaka.
124 chapter 4

in addition to metempsychosis, is at the heart of the understanding of lib-


eration284 in Kitb Btanjal. It is the transformation of consciousness that is
being represented in Kitb Btanjal and interpreted in the Hind not its separa-
tion. This approach may be considered in terms of a challenge to the dominant
understanding of the soul/matter relationship inherited and developed by the
Peripatetic tradition within the Arabic philosophical heritage.

284 al-khal.
chapter 5

Section iv of Kitb Btanjal: Liberation and


Unification, a Reading

1 Introduction

The fourth section of Kitb Btanjal is described as treating the subjects of liber-
ation and unification.1 Such a brief summary, however, merely hints at the intel-
lectual and philosophical challenge facing the reader when presented with the
intricacy of composition, translation and allusion that permeates this final sec-
tion. The level of subtle sophistication in this section accompanied by multiple
layers of possible readings, tentative influences, and al-Brns use of sources,
renders definitive explanation of the Arabic texts multivalent permutations
almost impossible. The fourth section of Kitb Btanjal evinces a perceptible
development from the psychological to the intellectual: from a discussion of
al-nafs in the preceding sections to a treatment of the role of al-aql in the indi-
viduals existential endeavour towards liberation. This is achieved through a
process of unification of the intellect and intellected with and within the priori-
tised role of the intellector. Accounting for the reasoning behind such a devel-
opment and the Arabic texts capacity for multiple interpretations raises the
challenge of a response that avoids the temptation for premature and unsub-
stantiated closure to a wide interpretative range realized in Kitb Btanjals
final section.
A two-tier comparative approach will, therefore, be taken in this analysis.
The first part of this chapter will begin by comparing the fourth section of
Kitb Btanjal with the Yoga-Stra of Patajali. The aim is to highlight the back-
ground and significance of the Arabic texts elaboration and development of
certain subjects; in particular, the subtle shift of emphasis from a psycholog-
ical to an intellectual discussion. The second, concluding, part of this chap-
ter will compare Section iv of Kitb Btanjal with Ibn Sns treatment of
the intellect in Awl al-Nafs and in his De Anima. The discussion will cen-
tre on the role of the intellect in its relationship with the soul as illustrated

1 al-qiatu l-rbiatu f l-khali wal-ittidi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 199, l. 1), The fourth section
on the subject of liberation and unification. For the use in Kitb Btanjal of the Arabic term
al-ittid, unification, to denote yoga, see Chapter Four and Glossary of Terms.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_007


126 chapter 5

by Ibn Sn and will reflect on significant and parallel issues salient in the
concluding section of Kitb Btanjal.
Before commencing such a two part analysis of Section iv, it is recom-
mended that the reader refer to the full translation of this final section and
the epilogue in the Appendix. No complete English translation of this sec-
tion including its epilogue exists. The usefulness of this exercise is to begin
to understand the way in which the Arabic text is a multi-layered translation
and interpretation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali, the commentary on it by
Vysa, and the comprehension of both by al-Brn. Kitb Btanjal material-
izes through the medium of the particular Sanskrit text that al-Brn relied on
(also a multivalent work combining text with commentary), and based on the
nature of the human and textual exegesis that was at his disposal. The diffi-
culty of such a contextualisation lies in the lack of information concerning the
multiplicity of these layers. Given these difficulties, this translation will only be
tentatively compared with current versions of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali and
the commentary on it by Vysa, in English, where significant parallels may be
drawn with Kitb Btanjal and where some degree of illumination of it may be
achieved. Finally, those parallel passages to be found in the Hind will be noted
in order to further clarify Section iv wherever the Hind passage is more expan-
sive. The parallel passages will also be used to gauge the extent to which the first
ten chapters of the Hind are interpenetrated with whole citations from Kitb
Btanjal and, more importantly, to assess the epistemological continuity that
this interpenetration seems to suggest.

2 Section iv and the Yoga-Stra of Patajali: Liberation, the Soul and


the Intellect

The content of Kitb Btanjal in this section is as interpretative of the Sanskrit


original as the previous sections since it describes in sophisticated, elusive,
and, at times, impenetrable terms, the psychological concepts encountered.
This last section seems not only to reflect the content and format of its equiv-
alent in the Yoga-Stra of Patajali entitled On Isolation,2 but also recapit-
ulates the structural and contextual fundamentals articulated in the earlier

2 The term kaivalya can be translated as aloneness, perfect isolation, detachment of the
soul from matter, final emancipation, or beatitude, (Mukerji, P.N., 1963: 467). Hence it is
possible that the use of the Arabic term al-khal, liberation, in the reference title to this
fourth section may denote kaivalya given kaivalyas range of meanings.
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 127

sections. It comprises a coda-like precursor to the Hind and, in its conclusion,


an anticipatory methodological backdrop for the religious and psychological
points touched on in the Hinds opening chapters. In the classical traditions
of Samkhya and Yoga, kaivalya is generally understood to be the state of the
unconditional existence of purua. In the Yoga-Stra, kaivalya has been vari-
ously understood according to the context in which it appears. Kitb Btanjal,
on the other hand, consistently associates this Sanskrit term with a liberated
state in the individual or the soul, if not always directly equating kaivalya
with the exact Arabic term, al-khal. For instance, in the Yoga-Stra kaivalya
has been interpreted to refer to the aloneness of seeing (de kaivalyam)
that, as Patajali states, follows from the disappearance of ignorance (avidy)
and its creation of samyogathe conjunction of the seer and the seeable
explained by Vysa as a mental superimposition (Whicher, 1998: 276).3 Kitb
Btanjal, however, describes the attainment of aloneness of seeing or iso-
lation of the seer in terms of a state of liberation expressed by the Arabic
al-khal that is achieved through the isolation of the intellector/seer result-
ing from a certain realisation of the difference between the objects of sense
perception and the intelligibilia and the consequent severance of their conjunc-
tion:

The sensed objects of knowledge do not exist with the fixed certainty of
the intelligibilia. When he knows this with the certitude that is not open
to any doubt, this conjunction has no further purpose. The knower is
separated from the objects of knowledge4 and as a consequence becomes
alone and isolated. This is the concept of liberation.5

Kaivalya, in its sense of isolation, may also have been construed in the Yoga-
Stra as puruas innate capacity for pure, unbroken, non-attached seeing/per-
ceiving, observing or knowing of the content of the mind (citta) (Whicher,

3 Stra ii. 25 reads: The Absence Of Alliance That Arises From Want Of It Is The Escape
And That Is The State Of Isolation Of The Seer. Vysas commentary on this Stra: When
Adarana [non-awareness, failure to see] ceases, the alliance between the Buddhi and the
Purua ceases and there is complete cessation of bondage for all time, which is isolation of
the Seer .
4 A distinction is made throughout in translation between the known, al-malm/al-mal-
mt, given its terminological basis in the Arabic al-ilm, knowledge, and the intellected,
al-maql/al-maqlt, whose basis in Kitb Btanjal lies in the term al-aql, intellect.
5 Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 20.
128 chapter 5

1998: 276).6 Kitb Btanjal, on the other hand, remoulds this passage7 that
centres on Stra ii. 20, within the context of the necessitated conjunction of
knower with the known,8 the ultimate invalidity of this conjunction,9 and the
consequent state of liberation that is precisely this absolute knowing Self:

In the state of liberation, however, the covers are drawn back, the curtains
are lifted, the obstacles are removed, and, in this state, the Self is nothing
other than simply knowing.10

The second passage (Stra iv. 18)11 that supports this particular interpretation
of kaivalya is also finely adjusted in Kitb Btanjal through its Arabic wording
and format. This process of transposed connotation distinguishes the dynamic
of al-Brns Arabic text from its Sanskrit source in the Yoga-Stra. Thus the
structure of the dialogue given at this point presents an interrogative proposal
that reflects the commentary to Stra iv. 18 by Vysa12 but also includes an
interpretative slant close to the suggested understanding of the meaning of
kaivalya cited above. The response by Btanjal to this inquisitive proposal may
well be Kitb Btanjals refinement of the concept, although, one can never rule
out the influence of as yet unidentified commentaries playing their part in this
overall synthesis:

6 This understanding of kaivalya is based, firstly, on Stra ii. 20, The Seer Is Absolute
Knower. Although Pure, Modifications (Of Buddhi) Are Overseen By Him, and Vysas
commentary on it: That is why it has been said by Pachaikha, The Supreme entity to
which experiences are due is not mutable nor transmissable, it appears to be transmitted
to and follow the mutative modifications of Buddhi, which thereby seems to be endowed
with consciousness, and thus pure Awareness appears to be identical with them . Sec-
ondly, this understanding of kaivalya is based on Vysas commentary on Stra iv: 18, But
the quality of perpetual manifestation possessed by the mind indicates the immutability
of its master, the Purua.
7 (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 20).
8 inna l-lima bi-ghayri malmin yaknu f dhtihi liman bil-quwwati wa l yakhruju il
l-fili ill bil-malmi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 10). The knower, without a known, is, in
himself, a knower in potentia. The knower is actualised only through the known.
9 baula dhlika l-ittilu wa infaala l-limu ani l-malmti (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 21).
10 wa amm f maqarri l-khali fal-aghiyatu munkashifatun wal-sutru marfatun wal-
mawniu maqatun, wa laysati l-dhtu fhi ill limatan faqa (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181,
l. 16).
11 See Appendix.
12 Vysas commentary on Stra iv: 18: But the quality of perpetual manifestation possessed
by the mind indicates the immutability of its master, the Purua.
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 129

The postulant said: is the intellect like a lamp in that when it comes to
making its self manifest it requires nothing other than itself? [Patajali]
answered: as the lamp is for someone who seeks light, so the intellect is
for an intellector.13

It is clear from this passage and the consequent clarification that the intention
in Kitb Btanjal is not to refute the possibility of a state of pure, unbroken,
non-attached seeing/perceiving, observing or knowing as may be intimated
from Stra iv. 18. Rather it is to distinguish between variety in intellection
and unity in intellection. Thus there is the intellect that attains knowledge
by means of external stimulus and collection, al-ijtim.14 Its activity, there-
fore, requires necessarily an object for its perception, namely, that which is
intellected. Then, too, there is the intellector, al-qil, who achieves unification,
al-ittid,15 with the intellect and the intellected, rather than collection, and
consequently it is implied attains that which was initially postulated for the
intellect, namely, knowing itself purely for itself. The distinction made in Kitb
Btanjal16 between variety in intellection and unity in intellection is, therefore,
described in terms of the difference between the process of al-ijtim and that
of al-ittid, both of which take place within the function of the intellect/intel-
lector but at divergent stages. Thus, at a lower stage al-aql intellects through a
variety of means and a process takes place of collection, al-ijtim, and acqui-
sition, al-iktisb,17 of the objects of sense perception by means of al-idrk18 a
word that is, in context, associated with the inferior activity of the intellect,
al-aql. Set against these actions is the higher activity of al-aql when it is in a
state of unification, al-ittid, with the intellector and the intellected. In this
state of unification where selfish acquisition for reward is not sought, the pri-
macy of the intellector, al-qil, is emphasised over that of al-aql against the
Neoplatonic promotion of the Pure Intellect:

13 qla l-silu: al-aqlu kal-sirji f ihri nafsihi l yatju il m siwhu? qla l-mujbu:
al-sirju limustain m, kadhlika l-aqlu liqilin m (Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 10).
14 Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 15.
15 Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 16.
16 Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 12.
17 Kitb Btanjal, p. 193, l. 15; p. 194, l. 15; p. 195, l. 7, etc. The terms al-iktisb and al-kasb (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 194, l. 14) which are recurrent in the final section of Kitb Btanjal have no
particular Ashari resonances in this context but are associated with the inferior function
of the intellect when it lies extrinsic to a state of unification with the intellector and
intellected, and is seeking acquisition and reward for itself, cf. Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 12.
18 perception, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 13).
130 chapter 5

The postulant said: does the intellect perceive itself and for itself so
that it, therefore, has no need for anything other than itself? [Patajali]
answered: on the contrary, its perception is not of itself since that which
is collected does not collect itself, rather, something other than it collects
it. The intellect only perceives after a stimulus to perception and it only
perceives something that is intellected. Thus, the imprint of something
other than itself and some form of collection takes place within it. The
intellector differs from this for it is unification rather than collection that
takes place within him.19

What is apparent, then, is that the differentiation in the above passage between
intellect and intellector is derived from an explicatory elision of Stra iv. 18 and
Stra iv. 19 and the distinction made therein between the pure, unbroken per-
ception of the purua and the relatively passive quality of the mind (citta).20
Further, the description of the mind in Stra iv. 19 as an object that is not self-
illuminating21 and, in juxtaposition, the example proposed by Vysa of fire,22
that is self-illuminating as well as an illuminator, is reminiscent of the lamp
imagery used in Kitb Btanjal to illustrate this same definition of Kaivalya.
Kaivalya is alternatively defined, according to Patajalis explanation of it in
Stra iv. 34, as the return to the origin (pratiprasava) of the gunas that have
lost all soteriological purpose for the purua that has recovered its transcen-
dent autonomy.23 Additionally, kaivalya is classified as the establishment in its
own form/nature (svarpa), and the power of higher awareness (citiakti),24

19 qla l-silu: al-aqlu yudriku nafsahu wa linafsihi fal hjata bihi il ghayrihi? qla l-
mujbu: bal laysa idrkuhu linafsihi min ajli anna l-mujtamaa lam yajma nafsahu wa
innam jamaahu ghayruhu, wal-aqlu l yudriku ill bada inbithin lil-idrki wa l yu-
driku ill maqlan, faqad aala fhi atharu l-ghayri wa nawun m mina l-ijtimi, wal-
qilu laysa kadhlika fainnam yaulu fhi l-ittidu dna l-ijtimi (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 197, l. 12).
20 On Account Of The Immutability Of Purua Who Is Lord Of The Mind, The Modifications
Of The Mind Are Always Known Or Manifest. (Stra iv: 18).
21 It (Mind) Is Not Self-Illuminating Being An Object (Knowable). (Stra iv: 19). Cf. also
Vysa here: As the other sense-organs and things like light and sound, are not self-
illuminating being knowables or objects, mind is also to be understood as such.
22 Cf. Vysa: Doubt may arise that the mind is self-illuminating and also an illuminator of
objects like fire
23 Isolation Is The Complete Disappearance Of The Gunas Which Have Ceased To Be
Objectives (By Providing Experience Or Liberation Of Purua), In Other Words, It Is
Supreme Consciousness Established In Its Own Self. (Stra iv: 34).
24 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 276), Although the seers (purua) capacity for seeing is an un-
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 131

thus completing the definition of yoga in Stra i. 3 whereby the seer abides in
a pure identity.25 The concept of al-khal is also broached at the equivalent
point in Kitb Btanjal in this same two-pronged explanation:

The postulant said: how is liberation [brought about]? [Patajali] an-


swered: you can say that it [liberation] is the suspension of the three pri-
mary forces from their activity and their return to the source from which
they had come. Or you can just as well say that it is the return of the soul
[in a state of knowing] to its nature.26

This citation marking the conclusion of the fourth section of Kitb Btanjal,
articulates the centrality of the concept of liberation and salvation, al-khal,27
in al-Brns Islamic systematisation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali. The adop-
tion in Kitb Btanjal of kaivalya as the backbone of an interpretative system-
atisation is not merely a mirror image of its signification in the Yoga-Stra.
Rather, it reflects, by its careful translation and intimate integration through-
out Kitb Btanjal, a transposed Islamic perspective that is sensitive to both the
particular epistemological template that is being carefully constructed and the
Arabic dialogic context that constitutes its framework. Al-Brn shapes this
transposed Islamic perspective to fit the methodological purpose explained
at the outset of Kitb Btanjal and, later, in the Hind, as will be illustrated in
the following chapter. The obvious cases where concepts have been adopted
should not blind us to the still more widespread cases where they have been
adapted. For instance, the passage from Kitb Btanjal just cited is clearly
concordant with the related Stra, but is so without being precisely congru-

changing yet dynamic power of consciousness that should not be truncated in any way,
nevertheless our karmically distorted or skewed perceptions vitiate against the natural
fullness of seeing. Having removed the failure-to-see (adarana), the soteriological pur-
pose of the gunas in the samsric condition of the mind is fulfilled; the mind is relieved of
its earlier role of being a vehicle for avidy, the locus of selfhood (egoity), and misidenti-
fication, and the realisation of pure seeingthe nature of the seer alonetakes place.
25 Then The Seer Abides In Itself. (Stra i. 3). This corresponds to the proposition in Kitb
Btanjal, p. 170, l. 5: qla l-silu: faidh qabaa l-insnu ilayhi quw nafsihi wa manaah
ani l-intishri kayfa yaknu luhu? The postulant said: if a man gathers to himself his
own faculties and prohibits their diffusion what kind of state is he in?
26 qla l-silu: kayfa l-khalu? qla l-mujbu: in shita faqul huwa taaulu l-quw l-thalthi
l-uwali an filih wa awdih il l-madini lladh wafadat minhu, wa in shita faqul huwa
ruju l-nafsi limatan il ibih (Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 19).
27 Both meanings are covered semantically by al-khal.
132 chapter 5

ent. It is the result of a confluent process of paraphrase, interpretation and


integration expertly undertaken by al-Brn.

3 The Soul, Matter and Unification

According to Stra iii. 55 kaivalya is understood as ensuing when the sattva


of consciousness has reached a state of purity analogous to that of purua:28
Whether Discriminative Knowledge Is Acquired Or Not, When Equality Is
Established Between The Buddhi-Sattwa And Purua By Their Purity, Isolation
Takes Place. (Stra iii. 55).29 Like Vysa the equivalent passage in Kitb Btan-
jal employs an illustrative example to depict the state of purification that must
take place in both the soul and the intellect. However, whereas Vysas imagery
focuses on the purging of the Buddhi-Sattwa from all Rajas and Tamas impuri-
ties in order that it might become like purua in its purity,30 the metaphor in
Kitb Btanjal emphasises the purity of the soul and the need for the mind to
achieve a similar state:

The postulant said: when does liberation take place? [Patajali] an-
swered: the soul in a man is a divine jewel that is pure and unadulterated;
defilement of the heart [mind] is simply a result of its being tossed about
often between the three mentioned primary forces. As long, therefore, as
the heart [mind] has not yet achieved a purification similar to that of the
soul so that they can be united in the unification of the attribute their
mixture is of no benefit and liberation does not come about.31

28 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 276), Through the process of sattivificationthe subtilization
or return to the origin (pratiprasava) in the sattvathe transformation (parinma)
of the mind (citta) takes place at the deepest level, bringing about a radical change in
perspective: the former impure, fabricated states constituting a fractured identity of self
are dissolved or discarded, resulting in the complete purification of mind.
29 Cf. Vysa here: The absence of any imputation of experience of pleasure or pain is purity
of Purua. In this condition, whether omnipotent or not, one endowed with discriminative
knowledge or otherwise, everyone becomes isolated.
30 Cf. Vysa on Stra iii. 55: When Buddhi-sattwa being freed of all Rajas and Tamas
impurities, is occupied with only discriminative discernment of Purua and thus comes
to acquire the state where seeds of affliction become roasted, then it becomes like Purua
on account of its purity When the seed of affliction is burnt out, there is no chance of
knowledge sprouting from it.
31 qla l-silu: famat yaknu l-khalu? qla l-mujbu: al-nafsu fil-insni jawharatun il-
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 133

The mind in this state of purity probably refers, in the Yoga-Stra, to the
one mind in its most refined and subtle form of sattva (or buddhi), which
being pure like purua is associated with kaivalya:32 One Mind Is The Director
Of The Many Created Minds In Respect Of The Variety Of Their Activities,
(Stra iv. 5).33 Such a connection is more palpably expressed in the detailed
elaboration allowed for this Stra in Kitb Btanjal. This connection in both
the Yoga-Stra and in Kitb Btanjal may argue against the view that Patajali
calls for severing purua from prakrti and the negative light cast over such
concepts as liberation, cessation and dispassion.34 The absolute separation
of purua and prakrti can only imply a disembodied state through the death
of the physical body. Yet the achievement of liberation, as expressed in the
fourth section of Kitb Btanjal, regards the physical body as a fundamental
tool in purging the mind so that it attains the purity of the soul. This physical
process requires (devotional) activity that directly relates to the eight-limbed
path,35 outlined in sections ii and iii of Kitb Btanjal. These two sections deal
with the physical, moral, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of asceticism
and emphasise unification, continuity and balance of the physical with the
spiritual as opposed to their separation. The product of such activity is a

hiyyatun hiratun ghayru mutadannisatin wa innam l-tadnsu lil-qalbi min ajli taqallu-
bihi fm bayna l-quw l-thalthi l-l l-madhkrati mirran, fam lam yuahhar l-qalbu
ahratan kaahrati l-nafsi att yattaid bittidi l-ifati lam yanfa ikhtiluhum wa
lam yakun khalun (Kitb Btanjal, p. 192, l. 18).
32 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 277), The mind, which previously functioned under the sway of
ignorance coloring and blocking our awareness of authentic identity, has now become
purified and no longer operates as a locus of misidentification, confusion, and dissatisfac-
tion (duka). Sattva, the finest quality (guna) of the mind, has the capacity to be perfectly
lucid/transparent, like a dust-free mirror in which the light of purua is clearly reflected
and the discriminative discernment (vivekakhyti) between purua and the sattva of the
mind (as the nature of the seeable) can take place. The crucial (ontological) point to be
made here is that prakrti ceases to perform an obstructing role in kaivalya.
33 Cf. Vysa here: How is it that the intentions of one mind regulate the activities of many
minds? The Yogin creates one mind as the director of the many created minds, and this
accounts for the difference in activities.
34 Cf. Mller, M., The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy. London, 1899.
35 Such an approach in Kitb Btanjal is to an extent consonant with some modern inter-
pretations of yoga which regard it as a system that is not content with mere theoretical
knowledge but represents a practical way of life. This implies physical training, exertion
of will power and acts of decision, because it wants to deal with the complete human sit-
uation and provide real freedom, not just a theory of liberation. (Klostermaier, Klaus K.,
A Survey of Hinduism. 2nd ed. Albany, 1994).
134 chapter 5

willing and effortful material process of transformation from ignorance into an


enlightened state of mind where the soul or the sense of self ascertains through
a purified discernment the difference between the (devotional) activity of the
body as its substantial, temporal tool and its non-temporal spirituality. What is
achieved is not a separation of the soul from the body. Rather, through purified
discernment, the self or the soul no longer misidentifies with any aspect of the
body, a state of perception that paves the way for a unification between seer,
seeing, and seeable:36

The postulant said: if a man acquires that by which recompense is necessi-


tated while in a [bodily] vessel that is not the one in which the acquisition
had taken place then the period of time between the two states would
be far in the past and the matter would have been forgotten. [Patajali]
answered: activity is incumbent on the soul because it is its function and
the body is an instrument for this [function]. There is no forgetfulness in
matters relating to the soul for it [soul] lies outside time which [time]
determines what is recent and distant in duration. This activity, being
incumbent on the soul, transforms its nature and innate disposition so
as to resemble that state to which it is being translated, for the soul in its
purity knows by means of this, recognises it and does not forget it.37

The key feature of the Arabic rendition of Stra iv. 5 is the emphasis placed
on the practical and physical process undertaken by the ascetic towards a
goal driven by the one mind38 that is the source from which other minds
and bodies emanate. It is precisely this goal, the highest expression of which
is the attainment of liberation, whose singularity directs the activities of the
one mind in addition to its consequent emanations. In contrast to such an
understanding of the Stra as well as the commentary by Vysa implied at this
point, it becomes clear that Kitb Btanjal does not in fact admit a variety of

36 Such a concept and state of unification is ancillary to true liberation as will be discussed.
For instance, cf. Kitb Btanjal, p. 196, l. 14.
37 qla l-silu: idh ktasaba l-insnu m yjibu l-mukfaata bihi f qlibin ghayri qlibi
l-iktisbi faqad bauda l-ahdu fm bayna l-layni wa nusiya l-amru. Qla l-mujbu:
al-amalu mulzimun lil-nafsi liannahu filuh wal-jasadu latun fhi wa l nisyna f l-
ashyi l-nafsniyyati fainnah khrijatun ani l-zamni lladh yaqta l-qurba wal-buda
f l-muddati, wa dhlika l-amalu bimulzamatihi l-nafsa yulu khulqah wa ibah il
mithli l-li llat tantaqilu ilayh, fal-nafsu biafih limatun bidhlika mutadhakki-
ratun lahu ghayru nsiyatin (Kitb Btanjal, p. 194, l. 14).
38 See Stra iv. 5.
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 135

activities deriving from many created minds but directed by one mind. Against
the Neoplatonic promotion of the primacy of the Pure Intellect from which all
emanation issues, the emphasis is placed in Kitb Btanjal on the intellector,
namely, the effective practice of the ascetic whose one mind unites and directs
the many bodies he intentionally creates, as well as their respective minds,
towards one particular goal of liberation:

The postulant said: if the afore-mentioned renunciant is able to magnify


that which is small and increase that which is scant and transforms his
body into many bodies in order [for them] to assist [each other] in the
pursuit of one aim, would these bodies exist with many hearts [minds] or
with one or with none? [Patajali] answered: each one of them [bodies]
has its own exclusive heart [mind] and none of them possesses anything
which the other [does not have] that would make them different from
each other, rather, they are bodies and hearts [minds] that issue from
him. The source, then, is the first [body] and the rest are consequent to
it.39

The goal of yoga then is kaivalya, a goal that is amply demonstrated in sec-
tion iv of Kitb Btanjal where the path to liberation is defined as purification
through (devotional) activity and unification (yoga).40 Throughout the Yoga-
Stra, Patajali contends that puruapure, immortal consciousnessis the
individuals true nature and being and therefore the real foundation of authen-
tic identity. However, due to spiritual ignorance (avidy) human awareness
mistakes the Self or seer (purua) for the seeable. In this state of misplaced
identity brought about by the conjunction (samyoga) of purua and prakrti,
and defined by Patajali as misidentification with the modifications of the
mind, the cognitive error of mistaking extrinsic (material) identity for intrin-
sic (spiritual) identity is continually reinforced:41 Yoga Is The Suppression Of

39 qla l-silu: inna l-zhida l-madhkra idh qadara al tami l-aghri wa takthri l-qalli
thumma jaala badanahu abdnan lil-tawuni al maqdin widin fahal yaknu tilka
l-abdnu biqulbin aw biqalbin aw bil qalbin qla l-mujbu: yakhtau kullu widin
minh biqalbin wa l yastabiddu aaduh bishayin dna l-khari att takhtalifa wa
innam hiya abdnun wa qulbun munbaithatun minhu fal-alu huwa l-awwalu wal-
bqiyatu tawbiuhu (Kitb Btanjal, p. 193, l. 20).
40 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 288): Yoga, in its program of purification, goes beyond the position of
classical Samkhya, which seems to rest content with a discriminatory knowledge (viveka)
leading to a final isolation of purua or absolute separation between purua and prakrti.
41 Whicher, I., (1998: 108): Yoga seeks to establish our identity as the seer, and in the process
136 chapter 5

The Modifications Of The Mind / Then The Seer Abides In Itself / At Other
Times The Seer Appears To Assume The Form Of The Modification Of The
Mind, (Stra, i. 24). In Kitb Btanjal these same Stras are approached in
the Islamic terms of the proper discernment and appropriate administration of
(devotional) activity so central to this tradition. The function of true knowledge
and correct praxis are mutually related and return to their source in the agent
with transforming effect. This contrasts with with their earlier description (sec-
tion i of Kitb Btanjal) as an effluence from the agent that risks entangling the
souls faculties in what is extrinsic and other than itself:

As for [devotional] activity, a part of it is like activity and another part is


like desisting from activity. If you comprehend the matter you will find
that it comprises knowledge, that is because it is the reining in of that
which flows out from you towards externals back to you, so that you are
purely occupied with yourself,42 and in the refraining of the faculties of
the soul from becoming conjoined with what is other than you, and in
the occupation of each of them [faculties] with that which is specific to
them about you. This function, therefore, comprises both knowledge and
[devotional] activity.43

Just as the process of purification that is central to the attainment of the


ultimate goal of liberation is summarily yet indicatively treated at the outset of
Kitb Btanjal in terms of (devotional) activity and the proper discernment of
knowledge so too is this process definitively encountered at its conclusion after
its thorough examination. This time, however, it is through the eight-limbed
path outlined in sections ii and iii of Kitb Btanjal which deal with the
physical, moral, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of asceticism:

to dismantle the mechanism of misidentification due to which we remain deluded,


confused, and dissatisfied.
42 Cf. Vysa on Stra i. 2, Viveka-Khyti or the realisation of the distinction between the pure
Purua and Buddhi, is of the nature of the Sattva principle and is thus opposed to Chiti-
akti [supreme conscious power]. As there is still a touch of impurity in Viveka-Khyti, a
mind indifferent to it shuts out even that realisation. In such a state the mind retains the
latent impressions alone. That is known as Nirvja or objectless Samdhi.
43 faamm l-amalu faqismun minhu kal-fili wa qismun minhu katarki l-fili, faidh aalta
l-amra wajadta l-ilma f imnihi wa dhlika annahu qabu l-mubtaththi anka nawa l-
khrijti ilayka liall tashtaghila ill bika wa qamu quw l-nafsi ani l-tashabbuthi bighay-
rika wa shughlu kulli widatin minh bishughlih lladh yakhuuh minka, faqadi shta-
mala hdh l-filu al l-ilmi wal-amali maan (Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 19).
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 137

The postulant said: does there remain in him who reaches this sublime
level remnants of worldly filth or is he purified from the stain of igno-
rance? [Patajali] answered: ignorance with regard to man whilst in the
world is as it were the natural state and knowledge is extraneous and for-
eign to him. Thus remnants of that which is innate and customary are
inevitable during the onset of that which is uncustomary. The postulant
said: how is he smelted so as to be completely purified of them? [Pata-
jali] answered: by means of habituation, meditational praxis and physical
exercise When he gradually becomes habituated to the necessary then
that which is habitual becomes as it were natural, it contends with nature
at that time and it overcomes nature, and the habitual becomes puri-
fied of those remnants. On reaching this level he becomes removed from
the motives of both recompense and sin so that he becomes cleansed of
impurities, and knowledge becomes established to such a measure that it
cannot be increased by the abundance of things known and it is impossi-
ble for them to become distant or simple, for these are then annihilated
through the unification of the three afore-mentioned [forces].44

The above conclusive passage mirrors that in Yoga-Stra iv. 28 and, more
particularly, the commentary on it by Vysa45 who refers to objects as being,
at their subtlest level, themselves the seeds of ignorance (avidy) in the form

44 qla l-silu: hal yaknu f l-blighi hdhihi l-martabati l-saniyyati baqiyyatun min darani
l-duny am yunaqq an danasi l-jahlati? Qla l-mujbu: al-jahlu lil-insni f l-duny
kal-ab wal-ilmu riun alayhi gharbun indahu, fal budda min baqy m huwa khu-
luqun wa datun inda hujmi m huwa mustaghrabun. Qla l-silu: fakayfa tasbkuhu
att yataaff minh kamlan? Qla l-mujbu: bil-tawdi wal-irtiyi wal-tadrbi, wa
qad taqaddamat kayfiyyatu dhlika, thumma idh itda l-wjibu qallan qallan rati l-
datu kal-abati wa ghlabati l-abata naidhin faghalabath wa khalaa l-mutdu
an tilka l-baqy, wa inda l-uli f hdhihi l-martabati yatabadu an daw l-ajari
wal-ithmi maan, fayuahharu mina l-adnsi wa yastaqirru l-ilmu al miqdrin ghayri
mutakaththirin bikathrati l-malmti fainnah naidhin fniyatun bittidi l-tha-
lthati l-madhkrati (Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 1).
45 It Has Been Said That Their Removal (i.e. Of Indiscriminative Impressions) Follows The
Same Process As The Removal Of Afflictions. (Stra iv. 28). Cf. Vysa here: As seeds (of
affliction) when in a roasted state do not germinate, so previous latent impressions, when
reduced to a roasted state in the fire of knowledge do not produce any modification,
i.e. they do not emerge into a state of knowledge. The latent impressions of knowledge,
however, wait for the termination of the function of the mind (i.e. they automatically die
out when the mind ceases to act), and no special effort is necessary therefore.
138 chapter 5

of samskrasthe karmic residue of affliction in the mind.46 These seeds of


affliction are first broached by Vysa in his commentary to Stra iii. 50:

When after the dwindling of afflictive actions the yogin feels that the
discriminative knowledge is but a characteristic of the Buddhi, and that
Buddhi-sattwa has also been classed among the foresakables, while
Purua is immutable, pure and different from Sattwa Gunas then he
begins to lose his desire for Buddhi-Sattwa, and the seeds of affliction die
out with his mind as they become unproductive like roasted seeds. When
they [the seeds] totally disappear the Purua does not suffer from the
threefold sorrow. Then the Gunas that develop within the mind as afflic-
tive actions with their formations, having fulfilled their purpose, recede
to unmanifest state and thus bring about their complete separation from
the Purua, which is isolation.47

Despite the absence of parallel imagery in the equivalent passage cited in Kitb
Btanjal,48 the importance of discernment between purua and the sattva that
takes place in the sattva of the mind and especially as expressed by Vysa
above is amply conveyed in the Arabic.49 In the above commentary Vysa
seems to imply that the mind, comprising the three gunas, is in some sense
active but in its subtlest state it is said to be like purua, for at this finest
degree of subtlety the mind has reached a state of purity analogous to that
of the purua. In this sense, therefore, kaivalya is associated in yoga with the
coexistence of the purity of both purua and prakrti (as the mind). In Kitb
Btanjal the centre of the process of discriminating discernment is a true
understanding of the nature and function of knowledge and its disassociation
from the attainment of liberation. Accordingly, knowledge lies lower in rank
to (devotional) actions and does not advance the individual to the same levels
as actions. Indeed, liberation cannot be attained through what is mistakenly

46 Cf. Whicher, I., (1998: 233), According to Vysa, an ecstatic state reaches both the supra-
cogitative and suprareflective levels when the mind is, as it were, void of its own nature
and is free to become the object itself. Whereas the unification (sampatti) in nirvitarka-
samdhi is a distinct perception limited to the gross object, in nirvicra-samdhi the
unification is expanded to include subtle objects.
47 Cf. Vysa on Stra iii. 50.
48 Kitb Btanjal p. 191, l. 1216.
49 Kitb Btanjal p. 191, l. 1416. In this passage the discernment is made between, on the one
hand, the limitations of particular knowledge whose domain is in the individuals heart
(mind) and, on the other hand, the true liberation of the individuals soul.
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 139

called knowledge which is in fact what is derived through the senses (and,
therefore, beholden to worldly matter). True knowledge, by implication, is not
derived through the senses and so can only reside in the subtle matter of the
mind where it takes definition as the cognition of the finitude of known facts
and its consequent rejection of them. Thus, liberation is facilitated through this
correct discernment of knowledge:

The postulant said: does he attain by means of this knowledge the highest
of echelons just as he attained them in [devotional] activity? [Patajali]
answered: no, for the possessor of this particular knowledge, even though
it is designated by this word, falls short of liberation if he presumes it
to be knowledge because it is acquired through the senses. For [true]
knowledge is the cognition of the perishing and non-existence of these
known objects and their consequent rejection. Just as what is presumed
to be knowledge obstructs the attainment of liberation so boasting and
bragging about it [knowledge] is a form of pride and insolence that also
obstructs its attainment.50

4 Liberation: The Intellect, Intellected and Intellector

Liberation then, according to Kitb Btanjal, is the removal of ignorance and


the realisation that knowledge is independent of worldly matter attained
through the senses. Yet the realm of the intellect also consists of subtle mat-
ter for in yoga, as already mentioned, the mind comprises the three gunas or
constituents of prakrti and is, consequently, in some sense active, having a real
existence. This is also understood by the text of Kitb Btanjal whose concept
of unification as a prerequisite to attaining liberation is introduced in this
final section: by means of the unification of the three constituent forces, the
obstacle to liberation is removed through a resultant cognition of the perishing
of (known) facts, acquired by the senses, and their consequent non-existence.51

50 qla l-silu: fahal yaknu bihdh l-ilmi blighan uly l-martibi kam balaghah f
l-afli? Qla l-mujbu: l, fainna hdh l-ilma wa ini tasama bihdh l-ismi fainna
ibahu qirun ani l-khali in annahu ilman min ajli annahu muqtanan mina l-issi,
fainnam l-ilma marifatu duthri tilka l-malmti wa talshh wa itbih birafih. Wa
kam anna l-manna bihi annahu ilmun yamnau ani l-khali fakadhlika l-tabajjuu
wal-iftikhru bihi nawun mina l-takabburi wal-jabarti yamnau ayan anhu (Kitb
Btanjal p. 191, l. 12).
51 Cf. Kitb Btanjal p. 191, l. 12, and p. 198, l. 1.
140 chapter 5

The corresponding discussions in the Yoga-Stra can be understood to demon-


strate Patajalis acknowledgement of the existence of a multitude of individ-
uated minds and personalities with the apparent rejection of the Buddhist
school of Yogcra. According to Vysa, Yogcra maintains the idealist posi-
tion that the objects of experience are merely products of the mind and have
no existence in themselves, a perspective that negates the reality of the man-
ifest world.52 Significantly, then, Patajali, in Vysas understanding at least,
seems to refute the idealist view that objects are merely projections or imag-
inings of the mind and, as noetic, are thus deprived of any existence in them-
selves:

On Account Of The Co-Ordinated Mutation Of The Three Gunas, Objects


Appear As One. (14). Inspite Of Sameness Of Object, On Account Of Sep-
arateness Of Mind They (The Object And Its Knowledge) Follow Differ-
ent Paths, That Is Why They Are Entirely Different. (15). Object Is Not
Dependent On A Mind Because If That Were So, Then What Will Happen
When It Is Not Cognised By A Mind? (16). External Objects Are Known Or
Unknown To The Mind According As They Colour The Mind. (17).53

Kitb Btanjal likewise recognises the existence of the manifest world and the
necessary part played by the three (constituent) forces in external objects as
well as the intellect.54 For that which is actually existent even if too subtle
to be felt by the senses is, nevertheless, not too subtle for the intellect which
perceives it since both the existent and the intellect are formed by these

52 Cf. Vysa on Stra iv. 14, An object prior or posterior to cognition is non-existent, as in
dreams and similar forms of consciousness there is consciousness without any object. The
thinkers who use such an argument and rule out the objective world, and hold that objects
are consciousness-constructions and like dream-objects have no anoetic being, how can
they who dispute the existence of objects that appear by virtue of their existence, and so
put trust in illogical wild imagination, be believed? Vysa would have been aware of the
Buddhist school founded by Asanga.
53 Cf. (Stra iv. 14/15/16/17). Contra Whicher, I., (1998: 96) Chapple and Kelly argue that
Patajali need not be seen as explicitly polemicizing against this idealist view, but as
merely advancing the Samkhya perspective that all things stem from prakrti through
parinma [transformation/serial change], (Chapple, C.K., and Kelly, E.P., The Yoga Stras
of Patajali: An Analysis of the Sanskrit with Accompanying English Translation. Delhi, 1990,
p. 7).
54 The empirical nature of the methodology as expressed in the preface to the Hind and those
of Kitb Btanjal can only function on the basis of such a recognition.
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 141

three (constituent) forces, in addition to forming the senses themselves.55


This common (material) constitution establishes in Kitb Btanjal the relative
though distinct basis in time and space of the existent and the intellect and,
by implication, their real and present existence. The proof is provided in terms
of the reality of space and time: past and future time when in the present are
subject to recompense56 generated by the three (constituent) forces. Therefore,
both past and present time have a reality in the sense that by having an impact
on this reality57 they are effective existents.58
An acceptance of the ontological status of both external existents and intel-
lect based on the common denominator of the three (constituent) forces is not
only significant as an interpretative comprehension of the equivalent Stras
but it also defines the subsequent discussion in Kitb Btanjal concerning the
unification of these forces and what this process implies.
The initial question posed by the postulant is double edged. In its acknowl-
edgement of the mutation of the three (constituent) forces and their resulting
difference there is an apparent acceptance of external existents. Yet, as with
Vysa,59 this immediately raises a contradiction regarding the corresponding
co-ordinated unification of the three forces in what the text of Kitb Btanjal,
in the response to this question, concludes to be the intellector:

55 l yuaththirni bil-fili fil-rhini l-mawjdi bil-fili fain laafa ani l-issi bil-mashiri
lam yaluf ani l-idrki bil-aqli, thumma yatakayyafni bil-quw l-thalthi l-uwali (Kitb
Btanjal p. 196, l. 4), They have no actual effect on the actually existent present even
if it [existence] is too subtle to be felt by the senses it is not too subtle to be perceived by
the intellect, furthermore both are formed by the three primary forces.
56 al-mukfaatu is the term used in Arabic to reflect the Sanskrit notion of karmic recom-
pense.
57 This interpretation is based on Ritters reading of athyn as atharayn in Kitb Btanjal
p. 196, l. 9 (cf. footnote 4, ibid.). The line may, therefore, be translated as: Both (present
and past), therefore, have an impact (on reality), for otherwise they would not have an
effect on existence.
58 bidallin anna l-m na kna rhinan lam yataarra an mukfaatin sababuh tilka
l-quw kam l yakhl l-mustanafu minh idh ra rhinan, wa hum idhan dhaw
atharayni wa ill lam yakun lahum atharun f l-wujdi (Kitb Btanjal p. 196, l. 7), the
proof of which is that when the past was the present it was not deprived of recompense
the cause of which was those forces just as the future, when it becomes present, will not
be free of it. Both [present and past], therefore, have an impact [on reality], for otherwise
they would not have an effect on existence.
59 Cf. Vysa on Stra iv. 14, But if all objects are products of the three Gunas, then how can
there be a single perception as one sound Tanmtra [the smallest particle of elemental
knowables], one sense-organ (as ear, eye etc.)?
142 chapter 5

The postulant said: if the three primary forces mutate and differ is it then
possible for them to come together in a [state of] unification? [Patajali]
answered: why should this not be the case when the function of the oil,
the wick and the fire differ from each other [yet] when their effects are
combined and their actions are in unison the lamp, because of them,
[burns] with a single illumination. For this reason when the heart [mind]
is purified and the soul is disciplined so that they exist together then
the intellected, the intellect, and the intellector become one and they all
become an intellector.60

The purification of the mind leads to its co-existence with the soul and is
reflected by the unification of the three primary forces within the former, con-
sisting as it does of subtle matter, that leads to an equivalent tripartite unifi-
cation of the intellect, intellector and intellected. More importantly, however,
the latter process constitutes an immediate precursor to the possibility of an
embodied freedom where the individuals liberated state is described in terms
of the souls integration with matter through purification. This tripartite uni-
fication alleviates the contradiction between the need to unify the three con-
stituent forces in the mind and the reality of the differences in external exis-
tents resulting from the mutation of these same three forces in those external
existents.61
By establishing the intellector as the product of this process of unification
the text of Kitb Btanjal remedies the contradiction regarding the activity of
the three forces in the mind and its relationship with intellected (external)
material objects. For the unification of these forces in the mind does not com-
pete against their mutation and differentiation in external existents since their
independent function in each is embraced by the wider tripartite unification

60 qla l-silu: idh taghayyarati l-quw l-thalthu l-uwalu wakhtalafat fahal yumkinu
an yaqaa lah ittifqun al ittidin? Qla l-mujbu: lima l yaknu dhlika wa filu
kulli widin mina l-duhni wal-fatlati wal-nri ghayru fili l-khari wa idh jtamaat
thruh wattaadat afluh kna minh l-sirju dh l-iati l-widati, wa lihdh
idh af l-qalbu wa tahadhdhabati l-nafsu att kn maan ittaada l-maqlu wal-aqlu
wal-qilu wa rat kulluh qilan (Kitb Btanjal p. 196, l. 10).
61 Hence Vysa who in his commentary on Stra iv. 15 describes a similar viewpoint on
(external) matter in the philosophy of Samkhya: According to the Smkhya philoso-
phy all objects are made of the three Gunas which are constantly mutating, they come
into contact with the mind through an exciting cause such as virtue, vice etc., when
they produce corresponding impressions and thus become the cause of such impres-
sions.
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 143

of the intellect, the intellected and the intellector. Thus, by establishing the
intellector as the pivotal point in this process of unification and qualifying the
relationship between the intellect and the intellected the text of Kitb Btanjal
is able to reject the purely idealist view62 that the objects of experience, both
sensual and other, are merely products of the mind and have no existence in
themselves.63 Further, not only is the separate existence of external material
objects and their relative difference argued for,64 but it is also established that
the intellector is pivotal in the process of perception. Consequently the func-
tion of the intellect is relegated to an instrumental role of perceptual mediation
between the intellector and the intellected:

For when intellect alone exists, it is a necessary consequence that knowl-


edge and gnosis alone perpetuate. Yet we observe that known things may
often become unknown, from which we can deduce that the difference
of these two states is brought about by an intellector who intellects by
means of an instrument belonging to it, namely the intellect the cogni-
tion of two things subject to corruption is itself subject to corruption and
there is a separation between them. If there was nothing other than the
intellect then gnosis could only be one and of all things perpetually. How-
ever, the intellect with regard to the intellector is like a gem concerning
the relationship between sight and what is seen; when a light is shone on
it, it conveys the colours and forms of what is seen to the seer.65

62 Reminiscent of the Buddhist school of Yogcra.


63 qla l-silu: m man l-maqli idh aqala l-aqlu wa ttaada bimaqlihi fainnah
lihdh madhhabun il an laysa ghayru l-aqli faqa? Qla l-mujbu: kam annakum l
tuthbitna ghayra l-aqli fakadhlika l nuthbitu nanu ghayra l-qili wa laysa baynan
inda l-tali khilfun f l-man innam l-khilfu f l-ibrati (Kitb Btanjal p. 196, l. 16).
The postulant said: what is the meaning of the intellected when the intellect intellects
and unites with what it has intellected, for this can only lead to the conclusion that nothing
other than the intellect exists? [Patajali] answered: just as you establish nothing other
than the intellect so we establish nothing other than the intellector. Ultimately there
is no difference concerning the meaning between us rather the difference lies in the
expression.
64 As a result of the mutation of the three primary forces of which they all consist.
65 famahm kna aqlun faqa lazima minhu an l yakna ghayra l-ilmi wal-marifati bil-
daymmati, wa nanu nar l-ashya l-malmata rubbam taknu majhlatan fayulamu
min dhlika anna khtilfa htayni l-latayni waqaa min qilin yaqilu bilatin lahu huwa
l-aqlu wal marifatu bil-shayayni l-mutaghyirayni mutaghyiratun wa baynahum
farqun, wa law lam yakun ghayra l-aqli lam yakuni l-marifatu ill widatan wa f jami
144 chapter 5

The introduction of the intellector at this precise point conveys an under-


standing of yoga in which there is no dichotomization between the cosmolog-
ical and the psychological or the macrocosmic universe and the microcosmic
human being. For it is, in the terminology of Kitb Btanjal, the conceptual
contrast of intellect versus that which is intellected that leads to the false pro-
jection by the postulant of a psychological/subjective inner world that is, by
implication, set against an outer corporeal/objective world creating, in effect,
a subject-object duality. This implies a given, reified world set against a sepa-
rate sense of intellectual self: The postulant said: does the intellect perceive
itself and for itself so that it, therefore, has no need for anything other than
itself?66
The reply in the Arabic expresses a response to this view of the intellect
that is terminologically consistent with its immediate context in Kitb Btanjal
although it reflects the philosophical position upheld in Yoga-Stra iv.19 and
elaborated by Vysa.67 The passage by Vysa recalls the use in Kitb Btanjal of
light imagery (Kitb Btanjal p. 196, l. 12) in which the three factors in the lamp,
the oil, wick and fire, are found to be equally necessary for its single illuminative
function. Thus, like Vysa, the text of Kitb Btanjal removes the element of
fire from the illuminer/illuminated dichotomy and, in harmony with the lamp
imagery, sets it within the tripartite and unified function of the illuminer/lamp.
Doing so sets an important parallel between this tripartite combination and
that comprising intellect, intellected and intellector whose unified function is
as intellector. The aim of such a comparison is to remove the intellect from the
intellector/intellected dichotomy and to set it within the tripartite unity of the

l-ashyi dimatan, wa lkinna l-aqla lil-qili kal-jawharati fm bayna l-baari wal-


mubari, faidh uat addat il l-niri alwna l-mubarti wa ashklih (Kitb Btanjal
p. 197, l. 3).
66 qla l-silu: al-aqlu yudriku nafsahu wa linafsihi fal jata bihi il ghayrihi? (Kitb
Btanjal p. 197, l. 12).
67 It (Mind) Is Not Self-Illuminating Being An Object (Knowable), (Stra iv. 19). Cf. Vysa
here: As the other sense-organs and things like light and sound, are not self-illuminating
being knowables or objects, mind is also to be understood as such. In this case fire
is not an appropriate example because fire does not illumine its true unilluminated self.
The illumination caused by fire is the outcome of contact between the illuminer and the
illuminated. That has no connection with the real nature of fire. Moreover, if it is said that
mind is self-illuminating, it will mean that the mind is not knowable by anything else
But mind is a knowable because from a reflection of the action in ones mind, persons are
seen to experience tendencies such as I am angry, I am afraid, I like it. This would not
be possible unless there be cognition of what is happening in ones own mind. [Emphasis
added].
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 145

intellector to effectively illustrate Vysas argument through a clear rejection of


the analogy between fire and the mind.68
Thus, Kitb Btanjal describes the intellect, in tandem with the participa-
tory role it gives to fire in the function of the lamp, as part of a unified tripartite
function within the intellector and acting as such. It thereby produces a sys-
tematic explanation of Vysas conclusion that the mind is knowable because
of its functional activity and that its self-illumination, if it can be described as
such, is in fact the result of its knowability by the intellector. It is with refer-
ence to this earlier interpretation that the conclusion in Kitb Btanjal p. 197,
l. 11 may be understood: As the lamp is for someone who seeks light, so the
intellect is for an intellector.69
The response here underscores the introduction of a crucial element, the
intellector, and envisioning the intellector as the comprehensive vessel of the
unification of intellect, intellected and intellector whose consequence is libera-
tion. In this way the material nature of the intellect can be allowed while it is set
within the perimeters of the intellector where unification is in fact seen to take
place. The material nature of the intellect is, therefore, not only reflected by
analogy as similar to one of the three factors that equally constitute the lamps
illuminative function, but also directly through its association with the objects
of intellection within the tripartite framework that constitutes the function of
the intellector.
Such an association and its significance is expressed in the consequent
response in the Arabic to the suggestion by the postulant that the intellect per-
ceives itself for itself and that, therefore, it has no need for anything other than
itself.70 More than simple inclusion within the unified function of the intel-
lector, the response relates the intellected to the objects of its intellection on
the basis of mutual interdependence. This not only replies to the postulants
arguable and identifiable philosophical position of the hegemony of the intel-
lect71 but also illustrates the materiality of the intellect. The illustration of
this materiality is achieved by establishing the activity of the intellect as per-

68 Cf. Vysa on Stra iv. 19.


69 qla l-mujbu: al-sirju li-mustain m, kadhlika l-aqlu liqilin m (Kitb Btanjal
p. 197, l. 11), [Patajali] answered: as the lamp is for someone who seeks light, so the
intellect is for an intellector.
70 Cf. Kitb Btanjal p. 197, l. 12.
71 Cf. Vysa on Stra iv. 14. Vysa would have been aware of the Buddhist school founded by
Asanga which maintains the pure idealistic view that the objects of experience are merely
products of the mind and have no existence in themselves, a perspective which negates
the reality of the manifest world.
146 chapter 5

ceiving something other than itself by means of an impetus/stimulus to per-


ception and the collection of what is perceived that tangibly imprints itself
on the intellect. The reality of this process is exemplified by the formulaic argu-
ment: what is in a collected state did not collect itself but was rather collected
by something other than itself. Thus, the intellect is influenced by that which
it perceives and these perceptions are collected by it.
The significance of the choice of terminology used to describe the intel-
lect lies in the emphasis it gives of the intellects material nature, that is, its
ability to be imprinted, its perception of externals, and its collection of that
which it perceives. As such, an important distinction is set by means of termi-
nology between the intellect in whose domain the collection of perceptibles
takes place only and the intellector in whom unification rather than mere col-
lection takes place. Such a clear distinction prioritises the intellector at the
consciously studied expense of the intellect,72 and, therefore, prioritises the
actions of the intellector in whom unification takes place. This highlights the
significant differences that can be gleaned concerning the Islamic concept of
the individuals struggle for unification and liberation between Kitb Btanjal
and Ibn Sns psychological writings, as will be illustrated in the following two
sections.

5 Ibn Sns Treatment of the Soul and Intellect in Awl al-Nafs and
His De Anima

According to Ibn Sns De Anima the potential intellect, al-aqlu bil-quwwati,73


reaches the first stage of its actualisation when it acquires the axiomatic truths,
called al-aqlu bil-malakati,74 the second stage, al-aqlu bil-fili,75 when it ac-
quires the secondary intelligibles from the primary intelligibles or axioms, and
the final stage, al-aqlu al-mustafdu,76 when it actually contemplates these
intelligibles and becomes similar to the active intellect:

You find at the head the informed intellect that is served by all [lower
intellects] and is the ultimate goal, then the actual intellect that is served

72 Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 12.


73 De Anima, p. 50, l. 7. Intellectus potentialis.
74 De Anima, p. 50, l. 16. Intellectus in habitu.
75 De Anima, p. 50, l. 15. Intellectus in actu.
76 De Anima, p. 50, l. 14. Intellectus acquisitus.
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 147

by the possessive intellect, and the material intellect with what it contains
by way of readiness serves the possessive intellect, then the active intellect
serves all of this.77

The significance of this passage lies in its location at the heart of Ibn Sns most
important psychological work: it expresses the intellects primary role in the De
Animas description of the nature and function of the soul. The salient presence
of the intellect in the De Anima provides a context for understanding the subtle
development in section iv of Kitb Btanjal from its attention to the soul to an
intricate detailing of the intellects various levels of state. According to many
of the Mediaeval Muslim philosophers,78 including Ibn Sn and al-Frb,
the intellect is that part of the soul by which it thinks or knows and as
such is the antithesis of perception. Mostly, however, al-aql is not regarded
as part of the soul at all,79 but as an incorporeal and incorruptible substance
differing in kind from the soul.80 The above passage from the De Anima finds
interesting parallels in differentiating the role of the intellect and knowledge
in a psychological discussion in section iv of Kitb Btanjal that describes the
means to attaining liberation:

On reaching this level he becomes removed from the motives of both rec-
ompense and sin so that he becomes cleansed of impurities, and knowl-
edge becomes established to such a measure that it cannot be increased
by the abundance of known things and it is impossible for them to
become distant or simple, for these are then annihilated through the uni-
fication of the three afore-mentioned [forces].81

This differentiation of levels of knowledge is linked with the lower role of the
intellect as a collector of known facts when outside of the tripartite unification
of intellect, intellected and intellector, and its higher role when a part of this

77 fainnaka tajidu l-aqla l-mustafda rasan, wa yakhdimuhu l-kullu, wa huwa l-ghyatu


l-quw, thumma l-aqlu bil-fili yakhdimuhu l-aqlu bil-malakati, wal-aqlu l-hayln
bim fhi mina l-istiddi yakhdimu l-aqla bil-malakati, thumma l-aqlu l-amal yakh-
dimu jama hdh, (De Anima, p. 50, l. 14).
78 See article on al-aql in ei2.
79 The soul is in fact restricted to the lower mental functions.
80 See article on al-aql in ei2 for this ambiguity between the soul and the intellect which
also pervades Aristotles psychology.
81 Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 8.
148 chapter 5

unification where it transcends individual facts to achieve higher knowledge.82


Kitb Btanjal, therefore, sets up a hierarchy in contradistinction to what is
found in the De Anima where a movement of descent is described from the
higher informed intellect to the lower possessive intellect.
Yet the crucial difference between the De Anima and Kitb Btanjal on this
subject lies not in the intellects various levels of relationship with knowledge
but in the definition of the nature and role of the intellect and in its connection
with the soul. For one of the chief difficulties of the Graeco-Arabic doctrine of
the intellect that the De Anima represents is that the intellect is affirmed to be
incorporeal and therefore, according to the doctrine of individuation by matter,
it is universal. Thus, although the intellects individuality is recognised, given
that the subject of thought is the individual I, the basic principle of this the-
ory of knowledge, namely that of the identity of subject and object, makes it
imposssible to give an account of what makes an ego an individual. The diffi-
culties in such a conclusion contrast with the exploration of the intellect in the
final section of Kitb Btanjal. For not only is the intellector prioritised over the
intellect,83 but also the individual is established in its principal role of achieving
liberation. This betrays a recognisably Islamic interpretative frame that places
on the individual the onus and responsibility of praxis and purification for the
purpose of attaining unification that results in liberation.
It becomes apparent from the above-mentioned passage of Kitb Btanjal
that the chief purpose in the process of purification84 is epistemological and
soteriological. The keynote question of liberation reiterated throughout Kitb
Btanjal finds its ultimate response, as in the concluding section of the Yoga-
Stra,85 in the relationship between the soul and knowledge.
Yoga-Stra iv. 30 describes the way in which the binding influence of the
gunas (in the form of the afflictions, past actions, and misguided relationships)

82 Kitb Btanjal p. 197, l. 3.


83 The intellect is no more than the instrument of intellection.
84 By means of the process of purification the unity of the three primary forces and their
subsequent annihilation is achieved within the unified tripartite dimensions of the intel-
lector.
85 The equivalent or relevant Stras: On Losing Interest Even In Omniscience Acquired
Through Discriminative Knowledge, The All-Round Discriminative Discernment That
Ensues Brings About The Concentration Known As Dharmamegha (Cloud Pouring Virtue)
/ From That Afflictions And Actions Cease / Then On Account Of The Infinitude Of
Knowledge, Which Has Been Bereft Of The Coating Of Impurities, The Knowables Appear
As Few / From That (Cloud Pouring Virtue) The Gunas Having Fulfilled Their Purpose, The
Sequence Of Their Mutation Ceases. (Stra iv. 2932).
section iv of kitb btanjal: liberation and unification 149

is overcome. What remains is a cloud of dharma that includes an eternality


of knowledge free from all impure covering (varana-mala, Stra iv. 31).
This Kitb Btanjal passage also seeks to differentiate knowledge from
known facts, by reducing the plurality of knowledge through purification and
annihilating these facts by unifying the three primary forces. The passage
describes an individual who has achieved this state as being beyond time and
space because he has transcended these three primary forces whose very activ-
ity is necessarily dependent on time and space. Establishing knowledge within
this state takes the form of that infinitude of knowledge referred to in Stra iv.
31. This endlessness of knowledge is better understood metaphorically rather
than literally in the Yoga-Stra and only obliquely in Kitb Btanjal given that
it is only discernible in Kitb Btanjal from its description in this passage. For
in both instances it is not knowledge expanded to infinity. Rather it implies
purua-realization that transcends the limitations and particulars of knowl-
edge86 (vritti) and, in the case of Kitb Btanjal, it signifies the final and most
concise definition of what liberation is.87

6 Conclusion: Kitb Btanjal, Knowledge and Language

The notion that objects apprehended through the senses are subject to change
is considered in Kitb Btanjal and reformulated in terms of an acceptance of
the ontological status of both external existents and intellect. This is based on
the common denominator of the three (constituent) forces and an acknowl-
edgement of the mutation of these three forces and their resultant difference.88
Therefore, such a reformulation, comprehended within the philosophical
system of Kitb Btanjal, does not simply question the status of knowledge
acquired through sensation or perception but, in fact, sets such knowledge, as
well as sensation and perception within a tripartite framework that is referred
to in Neoplatonic terms as intellect, intellector and intellected. The makeup
of all three must necessarily derive from the three (constituent) forces, whose
ultimate end is unification through a stage-by-stage process of purification.89

86 Isolation Is The Complete Disappearance Of The Gunas Which Have Ceased To Be


Objectives (By Providing Experience Or Liberation Of Purua), In Other Words, It Is
Supreme Consciousness Established In Its Own Self. (Stra iv. 34).
87 Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 19.
88 Cf. Kitb Btanjal p. 196, l. 10.
89 Cf. Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 110.
150 chapter 5

Thus, given their identical constituent forces, the relationship between


knowledge and perception in Kitb Btanjal is not a qualitative differentia-
tion that raises questions regarding the nature of knowledge and definitions
as to the extent to which humans have knowledge. Still, epistemology remains
the pivotal issue in the concluding analysis of Kitb Btanjal yet in a radically
transformed and surprising sense, if considered with a Neoplatonic context in
mind. Whereas the Neoplatonic argument, for instance in Plotinus,90 is that
true knowledge in an individual is attained by transcending the information
provided by the senses in order to discover unchanging objects through the
exercise of reason, in particular by the application of the dialectical method of
inquiry inherited from Socrates, the argument in Kitb Btanjal centres on the
very Islamic and, in many respects, Sufi concept of the transcending of knowl-
edge in its entirety through perfect unification with the divine resulting in true
liberation, al-khal.
This chapter has laid the conceptual and philological foundations of the
argument being presented asserting that al-Brn introduced an Islamic inter-
pretative frame into his analysis of Indian, mainly Hindu, thought and that the
structure of Hindu belief as it is depicted in the Hind begins with God as tran-
scendent being. It then treats His relation to creation, and, after an excursus on
the Greek/Indian notion of metempsychosis, concludes with the depiction of
His saving power. The purpose of this representation is ultimately realised in
the Hind, as will be discussed in the following chapter, where al-Brns inter-
pretation of Hindu psychology is overtly used in support of an Islamic reading
of Hinduism. This process is initiated in Kitb Btanjal through a philologi-
cal transformation of the relevant terminology, contextualised on the basis of
the Hindu subject matter to which such terminology refers and applies, and
reassessed on the basis of the proposed conclusion that the Hind took partial
shape in al-Brns mind as an extension of his intensive interest in, and trans-
lation of, the Yoga-Stra of Patajali.

90 Cf. Blumenthal, H., On Soul and Intellect, in Gerson, L., (ed.), (1996: 82).
chapter 6

Al-Nafs: The Soul in the Hind

1 Introduction

The principal passage from Kitb Btanjal for comparative consideration in


this chapter will be that which was briefly discussed at the end of the fourth
chapter:

He knows where his soul has come from and where it is going and is thus
able to transfer it [soul] and move it without being stuck to the body in
which the soul [now] moves freely.1

The critical context of this passage as it is found in chapter seven of the Hind
will be used to argue for a continuity of method from Kitb Btanjal to a com-
prehensive assimilation in the Hind. It will also be employed to validate the
suggested interpretation given earlier concerning the word taqalqala as moves
freely rather than harassed as translated by Pines and Gelblum.2 The signif-
icance of translating taqalqala as moving freely goes to the fundamentals of
the methodology of Kitb Btanjal and the Hind. The souls movement within
matter is the consequence of a true epistemological relationship between the
soul and body in a state of unification rather than the utter distinction of
the two. It is a state in which the body is a vessel3 and not a snare or net,4
thus allowing for the souls real engagement with the body rather than being
constrained by it. The unification of the soul and the body, in addition to
metempsychosis (see the second purpose below), is at the heart of al-Brns

1 wa qad alima nafsahu min ayna jat wa il ayna tadhhabu, fa-huwa qdirun alayh bil-naqli
wal-tarki l yatashabbathu bil-badani fa-innah muqalqalatun fhi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189,
l. 10). Cf. Stra iii. 38, When The Cause Of Bondage Gets Relaxed And The Movements Of The
Mind Are Known, The Mind Can Get Into Another Body. Vysa on this Stra: As the mind
is naturally restless, on account of the latent impressions of previous actions, it gets tied up
with the body When the bonds of previous actions become weak and the movements of
the mind over the nerves are known, the yogin can take out the mind from his own body and
throw it into another body.
2 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 258).
3 al-qlib.
4 al-shabaka.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_008


152 chapter 6

understanding of liberation.5 It is the transformation of consciousness that is


being represented in Kitb Btanjal and interpreted in the Hind, not its sep-
aration from the body. Importantly, this approach may be considered to be
a challenge to the dominant understanding of the soul/matter relationship
developed by the Peripatetic tradition within the Arabic philosophical her-
itage.
The second purpose of this chapter is to establish the grounds for the pro-
posal that there is a conscious promotion of an underlying and unifying Islamic
theme common to the psychological chapters of the Hind that seems to syn-
thesize information from the variously quoted Sanskrit sources under one reli-
gious banner. This argument takes its lead from the well-known passage in the
introduction of the fifth chapter of the Hind entitled: On the State of Souls
and their Rebirth in the World through Metempsychosis,6 in which metempsy-
chosis is stated to be the banner of the Indian religion in an associative
comparison with those articles of faith that characterize Islam, Christianity and
Judaism:

Just as the declaration of the Article of Faith is the emblem of Muslim


belief, Trinitarianism the sign of Christianity and the institution of the
Sabbath that of Judaism, so is metempsychosis the banner of the Indian
religion, such that he who does not profess it does not belong to it and is
not considered to be a member.7

It will be argued here that the concept of metempsychosis is not only repre-
sented as the chief distinguishing feature of the Indian religion as a whole,
but also forms the final stage in the Islamic interpretation that al-Brn under-
takes through the exploration of the content of Hindu psychology begun with
the translation of Sanskrit texts on the subject including Kitb Btanjal.

5 al-khal.
6 f li l-arwi wa taraddudih bil-tansukhi f l-lam (Hind, p. 38, l. 3).
7 kam anna l-shahdata bikalimati l-ikhli shiru mni l-muslimna wal-tathltha almatu
l-narniyyati wal-isbta almatu l-yahdiyyati kadhlika l-tansukha alamu l-nilati l-
hindiyyati faman lam yantailhu lam yakun minh wa lam yuadd min jumlatih (Hind, p. 38,
l. 4).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 153

2 The Body/Soul Relationship in the Hind

It was argued earlier8 that the nature of the body/soul relationship as it is


described in Kitb Btanjal is one in which the ultimate aim of bodily existence
through a progressive process of metempsychosis is to arrive at a stage in
which the soul exists in a liberated state of union with the body. To this end
the interpretation of the word taqalqala in the cited passage9 as moving
freely within the body, against the dualistic Aristotelian offering of its being
harassed,10 seeks to support this interpretation of an existential rather than
a metaphysical state of liberation. However, the argument of a non-dualistic
reading of this passage as a template for an overall thematic structure that
promotes a relationship between the soul and body in a state of unification
rather than the utter distinction of the two based, in this instance, on the
nuance placed on the translation of one word, taqalqala, is speculative to the
say the least. In order for this monistic interpretation, namely, the unification
rather than total separation of the soul and the body, to be established at
the heart of the understanding of liberation11 both in Kitb Btanjal and
the Hind in terms of a conscious continuity of method and interpretative
drive, this very same passage must be used elsewhere within a context that
directly supports such an interpretation and with, preferably, a substantiating
comment by al-Brn himself. Usefully, this is the case with the passage under
consideration which is also cited in the Hind:

He who arrives at the stage of liberation has recompensed in his physical


mould his past actions and he suspends acquisition in the future. [As a
result] he frees himself from the net and no longer needs his mould. He
moves freely within it, without being ensnared. He is able to go wherever
and whenever he wishes not in the manner that [this movement] takes
place after death.12

8 See chapter five: Section iv of Kitb Btanjal: Liberation and Unification, a Reading.
9 Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 10.
10 Suggested by Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 258).
11 al-khal.
12 wal muntah il darajati l-khali qad istawfh f qlibihi al m l-fili thumma taaala
ani l-iktisbi lil-mustanafi fanalla ani l-shabakati wa staghn ani l-qlibi wa taqalqala
fhi ghayra mushtabakin fahuwa qdirun al l-intiqli il aythu aabba wa mat arda
l al wajhi l-mawti (Hind, p. 62, l. 14).
154 chapter 6

As will be discussed shortly, the citation is embedded in a more elucidative


context that contrasts with Kitb Btanjals more deliberate interpretation of
what is an already nuanced Arabic translation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali.

3 Chapter Seven of the Hind: On the Manner of Liberation from the


World and the Description of the Path That Leads to It

The context of the above citation comes at the heart of the seventh chapter of
the Hind as part of a long discussion on the nature of liberation as it is perceived
by Hinduism, in the widest sense of the word. Following a brief introduction13
in which ignorance is cited as the chief fetter and knowledge as the only means
to liberation through a process of the souls true perception of its infinity
against the finiteness of formed matter and true discernment by its recognition
of evil and suffering in what it used to consider good and pleasurable,14 a
corroborative quotation cited from Kitb Btanjal15 lists the eight gifts that
result from the individuals achieving moka.16 A Sufi parallel is next explained
where an individuals eternal soul is able to know that which is hidden in the
transcendental world and to perform wonders. This is followed by a translation
of Patajalis listing of the four degrees of knowledge17 and its association with

13 Hind, p. 51, l. 16p. 52, l. 4.


14 liannah idh faalat l-mawjdti bil-uddi aqalat dhtah wa m lah min sharafi
l-daymmati wa li-l-mddati min khissati l-taghayyuri wa-l-fani fil-uwari fastaghnat
anh wa taaqqaqat anna m knat taunnuhu khayran wa ladhdhatan huwa sharrun
wa shiddatun faaalat al aqqati l-marifati, Because when it differentiates between
existing things definitively it intellects itself, the dignity of its own infinity and the ignoble
changeability and finitude of matter in form. It then does away with matter and verifies
that what it thought was good and pleasurable is bad and painful and, thereby, arrives at
the truth of knowledge, (Hind, p. 52, l. 1).
15 Hind, p. 52, l. 5p. 53, l. 8.
16 These eight gifts are: 1. The faculty of making ones body so thin that it becomes invisible
to the eyes. 2. The faculty of making ones body so light that it is indifferent when it treads
on thorns or mud or sand. 3. The faculty of making ones body so big that it appears
in a terrifying miraculous shape. 4. The faculty of realising every wish. 5. The faculty of
knowing whatever one wishes. 6. The faculty of becoming the ruler of whatever religious
community one desires. 7. That those over whom one rules are humble and obedient. 8.
That all distances between a man and any far away place vanish.
17 These four degrees are: 1. The knowledge of things as to their names and qualities and
distinctions. 2. Such a knowledge of things as proceeds as far as the definitions by which
particulars are classed under the category of universals, but regarding which a man must
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 155

moka. A similar comparison ensues where knowledge according to the book


of gt18 is summarized through a citation that is compared with a quotation
from Platos Phaedo.19 Just as the previous comparison with a Sufi parallel
reverts to the Patajali quotation, so too the conclusion of the same quotation
from the gt on the process of knowledge follows the Phaedo.20 A discussion
of the obstacles to moka is then developed using quotations from the gt
and Kitb Snk as well as general descriptions of Hindu doctrine, including
the nine commandments of the Hindu religion that are an unmistakable echo
of the ten commandments in Judaism and Christianity.21 Next, the path of
liberation is initially divided into three parts, aqsm, using Kitb Btanjal as
a general framework,22 though by no means the only source for explanation.
The first part, qism, is described as the practical23 and includes citations
translated from the Vishnu-Dharma24 and the gt. The second part is defined
as renunciation25 relying primarily on the gt for explanation. The third part
is worship.

4 The Part of Worship

It is the third part to the path of liberation that is of primary interest since it is in
the seventh chapter of the Hind, where the taqalqala passage occurs along with
the two above-mentioned corroborating stipulations. This part of worship is
described as an instrument for the previous two, provided by God as the means
to a graduated process towards felicity acquired whilst in a material mould and
as the component of practice that causes us to grow towards perfection within
the larger cycle of reincarnation:

still practise distinction. 3. This distinction disappears, and man comprehends things at
once as a whole, but within time. 4. This kind of knowledge is raised above time In this
stage the intellectus and the intelligens unite with the intellectum, so as to be one and the
same thing.
18 Kitb gt (Hind, p. 53, l. 14).
19 Hind, p. 53, l. 20.
20 Hind, p. 54, l. 7.
21 Hind, p. 56, l. 13.
22 Hind, p. 58, l. 5.
23 al-amal, (Hind, p. 58, l. 6).
24 Kitb Bishnu Dahrm, (Hind, p. 58, l. 8).
25 al-qismu l-thn l-ghufliyyu, (Hind, p. 60, l. 7).
156 chapter 6

It is known from this that the first part is an instrument of the second part.
Furthermore, the third part, namely worship, follows as the instrument
of both by means of which God renders liberation suitable and enables,
within a bodily mould, a cumulative graduation towards felicity.26

The analysis of this third part of worship begins with a brief summary of the
subject as it is described by the author of the gt who, it is claimed, divided
devotion into body, voice and heart.27 Incumbent on the body is fasting, prayer,
fulfilment of the obligations of religious law, service to the angels and the
learned among the Brahmans, bodily cleanliness, refraining from killing in
all cases, and from staring at the chattels of another man be they women or
otherwise.28 Incumbent on the voice is recitation, praise, adhering to the truth,
soft spokenness with people, their right guidance and instruction to do good.29
Incumbent on the heart is to have upright intentions, abandon pride, adhere to
patience, and to joyously marshal the senses.30 The explanation then reverts,
almost unnoticeably, back to the general thematic framework provided by the
Kitb Btanjal text where a fourth part to the path of liberation is suggested by
its author, which we must assume is a reference to Patajali:

He then adds a fourth superstitious part to it called rasyana31 that refers


to medical concoctions that have the same aim as alchemy in that they
[seek to] achieve impossible things.32

26 wa malmun min dhlika anna l-qisma l-awwala latun lil-qismi l-thn thumma l-qismu
l-thlithu awl an yakna latan likilayhim wa huwa l-ibdatu liyuwaffiqa llhu linayli
l-khali wa yuahhilu liqlibin yunlu fhi l-tadarruju il l-sadati, (Hind, p. 60, l. 15).
27 wa qad qassama l-ibdata ibu gt al l-badani wal-awti wal-qalbi, (Hind, p. 60, l. 18).
28 fa-al l-badani l-awmu wal-altu wa mjibtu l-sharati wa khidmatu l-malikati
wa ulami l-barhimati wa tanfu l-badani wal-tabarruu mina l-qatli alan wa min
mulaati m lil-ghayri mina l-nisi wa ghayrihinna, (Hind, p. 60, l. 19).
29 wa al l-awti l-qiratu wal-tasbu wa luzmu l-idqi wa mulyanatu l-nsi wa irshdi-
him wa amrihim bil-marfi, (Hind, p. 61, l. 1).
30 wa al l-qalbi taqwmu l-niyyati wa tarku l-taaumi wa luzmu l-taann wa jamu
l-awssi maa inshiri l-adri, (Hind, p. 61, l. 3).
31 thumma ttabaah biqismin rbiin kharfiyyin yusamm rasyana wa hiya tadbrun
biadwiyatin tajr majr l-kmyi f tali l-mumtanati bih. wa sayaju lah dhikrun wa
laysa lah bihdha l-fanni ittilun ill min jihati l-azmati wa tai l-niyyati bil-tadqi
lah wal-sa f talih, (Hind, p. 61, l. 4).
32 Compare with the fourth section of Kitb Btanjal where rasyana is described as the third
means to achieving zahda or asceticism: wal-thlithu an yanlah bitanwuli rasyana
wa hiya l-adwiyatu wal-iljtu l-mawfatu lidhlika, The third [way] is for him to
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 157

5 Islamic Characteristics Attributed to the Hindu God

The framework of comparison and analysis becomes more obviously reliant


on Kitb Btanjal in the lead up to the taqalqala passage in question cited in
the Hind. Indeed, the statement that is now made and supported by a citation
from Kitb Btanjal strikes a key theme by directly relating liberation with uni-
fication and thus sets the conceptual tone for the previous and consequent
psychological analysis in clear monistic terms. Furthermore, it is noteworthy
within the Islamic frame of interpretation that al-Brn maintains through-
out, that an unambiguous association is drawn between the Hindu notion
of a psychological holism and the theological self-sufficiency or incompara-
bility of God, an Islamic and distinctly Muslim tenet, though not exclusively
so. This statement that their belief that liberation is unification including a
direct reference to Allhs attributes raises many questions about the moti-
vations of the text of the Hind and the nature of the debate being undertaken
given such conscious mergers of general and specific Muslim doctrines with
Hindu beliefs through the filter of translated sources and inferential state-
ments:

Indeed33 they [the Hindus] believe that liberation is achieved through


unification since Allh is beyond hope of reward or fear of punishment.
He is past thoughts because He lies above abhorrent dissimilarities and
desirable likenesses. He is knowing in Himself, not through accidental
knowledge that He was once ignorant of. This too, according to them [the
Hindus], is the description of the one who is liberated and whose only
difference from Him lies in [his] origin.34

acquire it by ingesting rasyana which are medicines and treatments prescribed for this
[purpose], (Kitb Btanjal, p. 193, l. 9).
33 wa innam dhahab f l-khali il l-ittidi lianna llha mustaghnin an tamli mukftin
aw khashiyati munwtin, barun ani l-afkri litalhi ani l-addi l-makrhati wal-
anddi l-mabbati, limun bidhtihi l biilmin riin lim lam yakun lahu bimalmin
f lin m, wa hdh ayan ifatu l-mutakhallii indahum fa-l yanfailu anhu fh ill
bil-mabdai, (Hind, p. 61, l. 7).
34 Compare with the Kitb Btanjal source passage: qla l-silu: man hdha l-mabdu l-
muwaffiqu? Qla l-mujbu: huwa llhu l-mustaghn biazaliyyatihi wa wadniyyatihi an
filin al-mukfaatu alayhi biratin tuammalu wa turtaj aw shiddatin tukhfu wa tuttaq,
wal baru ani l-afkri litalhi ani l-addi l-makrhati wal-anddi l-mabbati wal-
limu bidhtihi sarmadan idhi l-ilmu l-riu yaknu lim lam yakun bimalmin wa laysa
l-jahlu bimuttajahin alayhi f waqtin m aw l. Qla l-silu: idh kna l-mutakhalliu
158 chapter 6

It is difficult to ignore that the underlying argument in this favourable


description of the Hindus belief in characteristically Islamic terms and, in
certain respects, through reference to a Muslim God is their concept of a non-
dualistic psychology that leads to liberation. This concept becomes a valid idea
all the more worthy of serious consideration within the then Muslim debate on
the subject. Having proposed the debatable principle that the Hindus maintain
belief in the concept of unification as the means to liberation, the profile of
Kitb Btanjal as the supporting source and framework for this argument is vis-
ibly raised by means of lengthy citations. Furthermore, this choice has a striking
interpretative significance given the clearly non-dualistic tendency of the con-
text. This supports the view that Kitb Btanjal, as an analytical translation,
betrays a monistic philosophical colour that may have been drawn as much
from the relied-on Sanskrit original text as it is imposed by the monotheistic
structure and Islamic frame of the Arabic rendition. Finally, and as a further
corroboration of the non-dualistic trend within the context of this section of
the Hind, there is the conspicuous absence at this point of any reference to
Kitb Snk, the Arabic translation of the samkhya text. Although not extant,
Kitb Snk, on the basis of citations to be found in the Hind, seems to have
generally reflected a more abstract metaphysical form of the samkhya system.
Its overtly dualistic theory regarding the differentiation and separation of soul
from matter appears to have been generally downplayed, as is evidenced here,
for example, by the preference for Kitb Btanjal as the supporting psycholog-
ical primary source.

muttaafan bihdhihi l-awfi fam l-farqu baynahu wa bayna llhi subnahu? Qla l-
mujbu: al-farqu baynahum anna l-mutakhallia yaknu kadhlika f l-zamni l-rhini
wa f l-zamni l-mustanafi dna l-m l-mutaqaddimi likhalihi, The questioner said:
who is this worshipped one who provides succour? Patajali answered: He is Allh who in
His Eternity and Oneness is beyond action whose reward is hoped and longed-for rest
or dreaded and feared hardship. He is past thoughts because He lies above abhorrent
dissimilarities and desirable likenesses, and is eternally knowing in Himself since acci-
dental knowledge is for that which was not known, nor is ignorance applicable to Him
in any given time or place. The questioner said: if the one who is liberated is thus char-
acterised then what is the difference between himself and Allh who is exalted? Pata-
jali answered: the difference between them is that the liberated one is so in the present
and the future but not in the past which preceded his liberation, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 173,
l. 12).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 159

6 Liberation, Divine Unification, and Knowledge

Subsequent to this above discussion is a development in which a psycholog-


ical description of the souls liberation is imbedded within the metaphysical
implications of the immediately preceding citation from Kitb Btanjal with its
theological Islamic doctrine of the indivisibility and inimitability of the Divine.
Liberation is thus understood to be derived from the divine characteristic of
unification that is also psychologically attainable in the form of the existen-
tial freedom of the soul within matter through proper discernment and right
knowledge:

For he was not in this state [of liberation] in pre-eternity since he was
before it [this state of liberation] in a state of entanglement, knowing
that which is knowable as a shadow acquired by [intellectual] exertion,
while that which he knows [remains] shrouded. As for when he is in
the state of liberation the shrouds are raised, the covers removed, the
hindrances are severed, and the Self [becomes] knowing without a desire
to recognize anything that is hidden, and [becomes] separated from the
oblivion of what is sensed whilst united with the eternity of what is
intellected.35

Perhaps more important than the role of knowledge in the process towards this
state of liberation is the nature of the knowledge that is required. The distinc-
tion is immediately noticeable in the above citation through the contrast of
a knowledge that is achieved through ijtihd, or intellectual exertion, and an
uninhibited, disinterested yogic knowledge within the Self that is united with
the eternal intelligibilia and unhindered by the finitude of sensibilia. Although
the nature of knowledge is all-important in the process towards achieving true
liberation, the fact that this process takes place and is attainable in time and
whilst in matter is the significant yogic contribution to the Arabic psychologi-
cal discourse of the time. The yogic view that liberation is inseparable from self
cognition is finely conveyed here in the psychology of the Hind where the inter-
relatedness of theology, metaphysics and the individual is described in terms of

35 fainnahu lam yakun f l-azali l-mutaqaddimi kadhlika min ajli annahu kna qablahu f
maalli l-irtibki liman bil-malmi wa ilmuhu kal-khayli muktasabun bil-ijtihdi wa
malmuhu f amni l-sitri, wa amm f maalli l-khali fal-sutru marfatun wal-
aghiyatu makshfatun wal-mawniu maqatun wal-dhtu limatun ghayru aratin
al taarrufi shayin khafiyyin munfailatun ani l-massti l-dthirati muttaidatun bil-
maqlti l-dimati, (Hind, p. 61, l. 11).
160 chapter 6

various levels of equivalence between unification and liberation and their con-
nection with a particular state of knowledge. It is Patajalis philosophy of the
soul that is here preferred and represented, in contradistinction to samkhyan
dualism and those dualistic trends within contemporary Arabic discourse. As a
pragmatic and experiential approach to achieve liberation by dealing with the
whole individual as both spirit and matter, it is one whose practical degree of
sophistication moves beyond the abstraction of a dualistic finality to the actual
possibility of liberation for an individual in real time, matter and space.
Having described the process by which liberation is attained, the focus of
attention subsequently shifts to the nature of the state of liberation. The intro-
ductory corroborative citation, in line with the general conceptual approach
of the text, is taken, with one minor (though still significant) omission and
one addition, from the concluding question and response in Kitb Btan-
jal:

For this reason the postulant asked at the conclusion of Kitb Btanjal
about how liberation is brought about. [Patajali] answered: you can say
that it [liberation] is the cessation of the three forces and their return to
the source from which they had issued. Or you can just as well say that it
is the return of the soul in a state of knowing to its nature.36

The original passage in Kitb Btanjal, from which the above citation in the
Hind derives, reveals that the nature of the state of liberation is directly related
to the suspension of action in the three primary forces:37

q. 78. The postulant said: how is liberation [brought about]?

[Patajali] answered: you can say that it [liberation] is the suspension of


the three primary forces from their activity and their return to the source
from which they had come. Or you can just as well say that it is the return
of the soul to its nature.38

36 wa lidhlika saala l-silu f khtimati Kitb Btanjal an kayfiyyati l-khali? Qla l-


mujbu: in shita faqul huwa taaulu l-quw l-thalthi wa awduh il l-madini lladh
adarat anhu, wa in shita faqul huwa ruju l-nafsi limatan il ibih, (Hind, p. 61, l. 16).
37 taaulu l-quw l- thalthi l-uwali an filih, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 20).
38 qla l-silu: kayfa l-khali? Qla l-mujbu: in shita faqul huwa taaulu l-quw l- thalthi
l-uwali an filih wa awduh il l-madini lladh wafadat minhu, wa in shita faqul huwa
ruju l-nafsi il ibih, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 19).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 161

This concept of the suspension of action in the three primary forces as one of
the two ways39 by which liberation is brought about is omitted in the Hind cita-
tion that modifies the original phrase by omitting the words action and pri-
mary reducing it to the cessation of the three forces.40 Surprisingly, Sachaus
translation of taaulu as cessation41 is given despite his being unaware of
the additional details of the original passage in Kitb Btanjal because he did
not have access to the original manuscript of this text.42 Nevertheless, Sachaus
sensitivity to the implied nuance of the word taaulu leads him to an interpre-
tative elaboration of the Arabic phrase taaulu l-quw l-thalthi in the Hind
citation43 that he renders as: the cessation of the functions of the three forces.44
Clearly functions is not a direct translation of any Arabic word in the Hind
citation. It would seem that Sachaus expertise in the Arabic language and sen-
sitivity to the nuance in the choice of the word taaulu led him to sense the
presence of a hiatus in this phrase that he sought to fill by adding the apparently
required word functions. The presence of the missing phrase an filih45 in
Kitb Btanjal exactly reflects the word functions that Sachau supplies in his
translation of this citation in the Hind. In this light Sachaus translation of the
word taaulu by cessation seems to offer a compromise meaning between
the sense of utter annulment that the Arabic taaulu does not carry46 and
suspension that is not justified in the Hind version of the citation even though

39 The in shita faqul in shita faqul construction seems to suggest either that there are
two ways of thinking or speaking about liberation or that there are two ways by which
liberation is achieved.
40 Suspension for the Kitb Btanjal passage and cessation for the modified version of the
same citation in the Hind is a more accurate translation of taaulu in the two texts that
reflects the change in nuance due to the discussed omissions in the Hind citation. Pines
and Gelblum render taaulu as annulment for both the Kitb Btanjal passage (1989:
271) and the equivalent Hind citation which they quote and translate in footnote 153 of
their translation of the fourth chapter of Kitb Btanjal (1989: 303).
41 Sachau, 1910, vol. i: 81.
42 The original manuscript of this text was in fact only discovered twelve years after Sachaus
translation by Louis Massignon in 1922 and only later prepared and published by H. Ritter
in 1956. See Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966: 302303).
43 Hind, p. 61, l. 18.
44 Functions is not italicized in Sachaus translation, however, the following phrase the
three forces is (1910, vol. i: 81).
45 Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 20.
46 See for example: Hava, J.G., Al-Farid Arabic-English Dictionary. Beirut, Dar el-Mashreq,
1982, p. 481, where taaala is given the sense to be unemployed or impaired or ne-
glected rather than annulment which is given by Pines and Gelblum.
162 chapter 6

Sachau seems to lean towards this second sense. This tendency evidenced by
his insertion of the supplementary word functions reshapes the meaning of
the phrase cessation of the functions of the three forces and implies the possi-
bility that this cessation is not necessarily a permanent one. Such a tempering
in the meaning of the Hind citation is, strictly speaking, inaccurate if one were
to simply consider the passage prima facie without taking into consideration
the original passage in Kitb Btanjal since it is the cessation of the three
forces47 themselves that the grammatical structure of the Arabic citation, as
it stands in the Hind, must denote. An accurate translation of taaulu in Kitb
Btanjal is the suspension of the three primary forces from their activity, and
the change in nuance in the Hind, the result of the omitted phrase, al-uwalu an
filih, discussed above, is best translated as the cessation of the three forces.
This change in meaning, achieved through the omission of the above phrase,
reflects an interpretative development from the original passage to the cita-
tion in which the three primary forces whose activity is suspended in Kitb
Btanjal now cease in themselvesthat is, from suspending their function
in the first passage the three forces themselves now no longer function at all in
the Hind citation. This interpretative development reinforces the importance
of the second definition of liberation relating to the soul and expressed in the
latter half of the construction beginning with the second in shita faqul. Here we
witness a second interpretative development that reinforces the second def-
inition of liberation, this time through an addition of a word rather than an
omission.
The second definition of liberation as found in the Kitb Btanjal passage
states that it [liberation] is the return of the soul to its nature that is in
close concordance with the second half of Stra iv.34: Or When the Absolute
Consciousness is Established in its Own Nature48 and like its Sanskrit source
makes no mention of knowledge let alone knowledge attributed to the soul.
More emphatically still is Vysas commentary on Stra iv. 34 in which he
clearly stresses the intellects absence: In other words, when the supreme
Consciousness is established in His own self, i.e. the absolute consciousness
is unrelated to or unconcerned with the intellect.49 It is interesting that both
in Ritters Arabic edition of Kitb Btanjal and in the translation by Pines
and Gelblum the word limatan50 rendered endowed with knowledge51 is

47 taaulu l-quw l-thalthi, (Hind, p. 61, l. 18).


48 Sadakhas, Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. Bombay, 1995, p. 202.
49 Ibid.
50 Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 21.
51 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1989: 271).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 163

introduced from the equivalent but chronologically later citation in the Hind.
This addition does not take into account the development in epistemological
interpretation that has taken place from the former passage in Kitb Btanjal
to the latter citation in the Hind.52 Furthermore, Pines and Gelblum support
their insertion of endowed with knowledge in the Kitb Btanjal passage by
citing an earlier passage that they argue carries the same view, namely, that
al-Brn appears to attribute knowledge to the soul (purua) in the state of
kaivalya (wholeness, perfection i.e. liberation).53 This earlier corroborative
passage, however, does not in fact refer to the soul, al-nafs, but rather to the
self, al-dht, nor does it refer to liberation, al-khal, but rather the locus of
liberation, maqarri l-khali:

However, in the locus of liberation the covers are removed, the veils lifted,
and the impediments undone, and in this locus the self is in a [state of]
knowing, nothing but.54

Secondly, Pines and Gelblum seek proof that limatan should indeed be in-
serted into the Kitb Btanjal passage by relying on a quotation taken from
ankara Bhagavatpda in his Ptajalayo-gastrabhyavivarana, who, they
argue, is referring to the doctrine of the school of Yoga when he says (on ys,
sutra 4.33(34)): Some (people) consider that kaivalya consists in the attain-
ment of the attribute of being equal to God in the matter of omniscience and
so forth.55 Elsewhere, Pines and Gelblum expressly note the influence of the
commentary by Vysa on al-Brns Kitb Btanjal,56 in addition to the influ-
ence of a later ancillary sub-commentary by ankara Bhagavatpda on Vysa
(by their admission and use).57 Thus, despite their arguments against both

52 Pines and Gelblum expressly defend Ritters insertion of limatan as well as their inclu-
sion of its English rendition which they give as endowed with knowledge in footnote 152
of their translation, (1989: 302).
53 Ibid., (1989: 265).
54 wa amm f maqarri l-khali fal-aghiyatu munkashifatun wal-sutru marfatun wal-
mawniu maqatun, wa-laysati l-dhtu fhi ill limatun faqa. (Kitb Btanjal, p. 181,
l. 16).
55 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1989: 266).
56 Cf. for example: In fact al-Brns text has more in common with Veda-vysas commen-
tary than with that of Bhoja Rja. Ibid., (1966: 304).
57 Cf. for example ibid., (1989: 298), footnote 108: For the simile of the lamp here cf. ankara
Bhagavatpda on Vy. loc. cit. [Vy. introducing ys, sutra 4.18 (19)]. Cf. also ibid. (1989:
276), where ankara Bhagavatpdas Ptajalayo-gastrabhyavivarana is listed under
Subcommentaries.
164 chapter 6

Garbe and Ritter who attribute the unidentified commentary used by al-Brn
to an early non-extant version of Vysas,58 they, nevertheless, admit to unmis-
takable resemblances in certain passages. However, they explain this as repeti-
tion and borrowing from a common tradition:

Thus al-Brns translation of certain passages has an unmistakable re-


semblance to Veda-vysas Yogabhya But these similarities can be
explained as normal repetition due to borrowing from a common tradi-
tion.59

And yet the fact remains that Pines and Gelblum rely heavily on Vysas com-
mentary in the greater portion of their elucidatory footnotes precisely because
the extant version of this commentary is clearly the closest to that text or the
oral tradition that al-Brn was relying on when composing his Kitb Btanjal
and explaining its intricacies. Thus in the case of the passage in question from
Kitb Btanjal there is a clear logical inconsistency in introducing the word
limatan from the equivalent but later citation to be found in the Hind and
then proceeding to defend this insertion with a supporting sub-commentary,
especially since Vysas explanation of Stra iv. 34 so emphatically stresses the
intellects irrelevance in this Stra (as was discussed above). What is more, to
overlook the absence of the word limatan in the Kitb Btanjal passage that
is unmistakably in harmony with Vysas commentary on the corresponding
Stra, and whose absence is further underlined by contrast with its insertion
in the equivalent Hind citation, is to discount the continuum of contextual,
methodological and interpretative development from Kitb Btanjal to the
Hind. This is the result of a process by al-Brn of contemplation, understand-
ing and translation of the Yoga-Stra from his earlier Arabic explanatory text
to his later expository and exploratory Hind.
Thirdly, Pines and Gelblum seek to support the insertion of limatan in their
translation of the Kitb Btanjal passage by once again referring to the Hind, in
this case the context that precedes the citation, where they state that: The idea
that the liberated one is equal to God and endowed with knowledge also occurs
in al-Brns India (Hyd., p. 61 11. 716; transl. Suchau [sic.] i, 81). Closer scrutiny
of this reference reveals not only that the passage immediately preceding the
citation is taken from Kitb Btanjal but that it is also an undeclared citation
with alterations:

58 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1966: 303304).


59 Ibid., (1966: 303).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 165

Before liberation he existed in the world of entanglement, knowing the


objects of knowledge only by a phantasmagoric kind of knowing that
he had acquired by absolute exertion, whilst the object of his knowing
is still covered, as it were, by a veil. On the contrary, in the world of
liberation all veils are lifted, all covers taken off, and obstacles removed.
There the being is absolutely knowing, not desirous of learning anything
unknown, separated from the soiled perceptions of the senses, united
with the everlasting ideas.60

Sachaus translation is largely accurate, however it also reveals that a number


of words are cursorily translated partly due to the fact that he did not know
the Kitb Btanjal manuscript. His translation, for example, of maall61 as
world on the two occasions that it occurs in the passage would certainly
have been amended had he known that in the Kitb Btanjal text on the same
two occasions the words maall,62 place, and maqarr,63 locus, are given and
thus identify the intended meaning more precisely. Further, his translation of
al-dht64 as the being does not reflect the close association in the use of
this Arabic word in Kitb Btanjal with the Sanskrit purua (self/seer) that is
demonstrated on a number of other instances.65 It is the case, in fact, that the
original passage in Kitb Btanjal has already been used by Pines and Gelblum
as part of their argument (see above) to support their insertion of the word
limatan. Indeed, we find once again that the continuum of interpretation and
conceptual development in al-Brns writings, from the earlier to the later,
seems not to have been taken into consideration. This undeclared citation in
the Hind, bearing significant differences from the original passage, should not
be used in support of the inclusion of the word limatan in Kitb Btanjal,
which is only found in the later text of the Hind as illustrated above. The
citations from the later Hind that are derived from the earlier Kitb Btanjal
text are not interchangeable since the differences to be found between them
result from a development of epistemological, philosophical and argumenta-

60 Sachau, 1910, vol. i: 81.


61 Hind, p. 61, l. 12/13.
62 Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 14.
63 Ibid., p. 181, l. 16.
64 Hind, p. 61, l. 14.
65 For example, cf. Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 286), footnote 182: arifa dhtahu bil-
aqqati knows his own self in its true reality corresponds to purua-jnam: knowledge
of the self in Stra 3.35. In this sentence dht (and not nafs) corresponds to purua.
166 chapter 6

tive reasoning. They are not purely philological variations that may be treated
as entirely transposable allowing the possibility of reading back from the later
text to the earlier.
Finally, Pines and Gelblum, in support of their insertion of the word li-
matan in the Kitb Btanjal text, quote from varakrnas Snkhyakrik, k-
rik 65:

Thereby (i.e., by means of kevalam inam, the perfect, complete, total


knowledge mentioned in the preceding krik; cf. Guaapdas Bhya
ad loc.) the purua, retaining its own nature, abiding in itself. (v. 1: well-
composed, confident) standing as spectator, looks at the prakrti that, hav-
ing divested itself of the seven forms (cf. sk, krik 63), has ceased to
evolve, its purpose (having been achieved).66

The purpose of this quotation, and those that are provided from other com-
mentaries as well as from Kitb Btanjal and the Hind, is to show that some
Yoga and Smkhya authors maintained that the purua in the state of kaivalya
was endowed with knowledge that was not unconscious.67 Although this is not
in doubt with regard to some of the commentaries on the Yoga-Stra of Pata-
jali, such an interpretation cannot then be automatically ascribed to al-Brn
nor comprehensively applied to the texts of Kitb Btanjal and the Hind simply
on the basis of the word limatan inserted into the amended citation found in
the Hind.
As will be presently illustrated, the insertion of limatan has the exact
opposite purpose, namely, to differentiate between the positions regarding the
subject of liberation discussed in the Smkhya of Kapila and the Yoga-Stra
of Patajali as interpreted by al-Brn who translated both works into Arabic.
Further, the analysis of this difference between the two works, that is partly due
to the insertion of limatan, will also reveal that this particular change in the
citation taken from Kitb Btanjal, as with many others, is an epistemological
rather than a merely philological variation.

66 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1989: 3).


67 Ibid.
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 167

7 The Nature of Liberation According to Kitb Btanjal and Kitb


Snk

After the amended citation from Kitb Btanjal in which the nature of the souls
state of liberation is described in two possible ways, an interesting develop-
ment in the explanation ensues in which the authors of Kitb Btanjal and
Kitb Snk are shown by al-Brn to differ in opinion regarding the definition of
the individual who has attained such a level of liberation.68 Thus the phrase wa
qad ikhtalafa l-rajulni fman aalat lahu rutbatu l-khali clearly emphasizes
at the outset of a series of citations from the two texts a difference of opin-
ion between the author of Kitb Snk and that of Kitb Btanjal on liberation
according to al-Brns interpretation of his two translated texts. Indeed, the
following quotations from Kitb Btanjal and Kitb Snk reveal that a differen-
tiation is being carefully set out by al-Brn between these two authors inter-
pretation of the subject of liberation and its attainment based on the nature
of the relationship between knowledge and the soul. This argument contrasts
with Pines and Gelblums opinion which seems to suggest that al-Brn does
not differentiate between yoga and samkhya on this subject and it is for this
reason that they support Ritters insertion of limatan in the Kitb Btanjal
passage analysed above. That is, they seem to assume that al-Brns transla-
tions exactly reflect his personal position or interpretation as they understand
it to be. Yet it would be more accurate to argue that al-Brn first translates the
relevant Sanskrit texts of Kitb Snk and Kitb Btanjal then uses these transla-
tions to elucidate his interpretative reading of Hindu psychology as developed
in the Hind. The first contrary opinion given for the purpose of illustrative con-
trast is what al-Brn cites from his Kitb Snk:

The two men differ regarding the one who has attained the level of liber-
ation. The hermit in Kitb Snk asked: Why does death not occur with
the cessation of action? The sage answered: This is because separation
requires a certain spiritual state whilst the soul is in the body. Their sepa-
ration only takes place through a natural state that divides their union. It

68 This reading differs from that of Sachau who suggests for: wa qad ikhtalafa l-rajulni fman
aalat lahu rutbatu l-khali, (Hind, p. 61, l. 19), The two men, pupil and master, disagree
regarding him who has arrived at the stage of liberation. However, it is clear from the
subsequent citations that the two men are the authors of Kitb Snk and of Kitb Btanjal
and not the questioner and sage of the quotation from Kitb Snk who do not in fact
display a sustained difference of opinion, but rather a negative question is posited in order
to induce a detailed explanatory response.
168 chapter 6

is possible that the effect remains for a period after the disappearance of
the cause during which time it grows colder, receding to the point when
it disappears. This is similar to a silk-weaver who rotates his wheel with
a stick until it is spinning then leaves it. It does not come to a rest when
the rotating stick is withdrawn rather its movement begins to decrease lit-
tle by little until it stops. In similar fashion the effect [of action] remains
in the body after action has stopped until natural force comes to an end
through [a process of] tensing and slackening and the effect of previous
[action] disappears leading to complete liberation upon the casting away
of the body.69

What is immediately noticeable in this citation is the absence of any discussion


of the relationship between liberation and the souls attainment of knowledge.
Indeed, a lexical review of the citation reveals no mention of the word liber-
ation, al-khal, in relation to a souls state of knowledge, limatan; what is
more, references to knowledge are entirely absent. The discussion of the souls
attainment of liberation and how this may be brought about according to Kitb
Snk is clearly not given as an epistemological process but rather as a physio-
logical one. In this regard a clear differentiation is being set out between the
two men, namely, the authors of Kitb Btanjal and Kitb Snk. Thus, libera-
tion according to Kitb Snk is the result of both a spiritual and a natural state
in which the spiritual state (of liberation), latun nafsniyyatun, is directly
dependent on the attainment of a certain natural state, lun abiyyun, and
not at all related to the souls attainment of a state of knowledge. This natural
state that leads to the spiritual state of liberation is described in physiological
terms, in which liberation is understood uniquely to be the result of the souls
physical separation from the body. The salient difference of view between what
is expressed in this citation and that which is later given from Kitb Btanjal
may be presently anticipated when one considers that in the latter liberation is

69 wa qadi khtalafa l-rajulni fman haalat lahu rutbatu l-khali, fasaala l-nsiku f Kitbi
Snk lima l yakna l-mawtu inda nqii l-fili? Qla l-akmu: min ajli anna l-mjiba
lil-infili latun nafsniyyatun wal-ru badu f l-badani wa l yufarraq baynahum
ill lun abiyyun mufarriqun lil-iltimi wa rubbam baqiy l-tathru bada zawli l-
muaththiri muddatan yafturu fh wa yatarjau il an yafniy mithla l-arrri lladh
yudru dawwratahu bikhashabatin att yatadda dawarnuh thumma yatrikuh wa
laysat taskunu maa izlati l-khashabati l-mudrati anh wa innam yafturu arakatuh
qallan qallan il an tabula fakadhlika l-badanu bada rtifi l-fili yabq fhi l-atharu
att yanarifa fl-shiddati wal-rati il nqii l-quwwati l-abyyati wa fani l-athari
l-mutaqaddimi fayaknu kamlu l-khali inda njidli l-badani. (Hind, p. 61, l. 19).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 169

described in terms of the souls state of knowing whether or not physical sepa-
ration has taken place. Hence, the natural state referred to in Kitb Snk, that
is the prerequisite necessary for the souls spiritual state of liberation through
its physical separation from the body or casting the body away [or earthward],
injidlu l-badani, is described as being the cessation of the effect, al-atharu of
action, al-filu in the body and the consequent ending of natural force, al-
quwwatu l-abyyatu. It is only when this natural force comes to an end that
the complete liberation of the soul, kamlu l-khali, is attained not through
any intellectual or epistemological process but rather through a purely physical
one where it finally casts the body away. The conclusion to be drawn from this
citation is that it represents a passage taken by al-Brn from his Kitb Snk in
order to reveal two different points of view each of which he initially identifies
as maintained by one of the two men, Snk and Btanjal, on the subject of the
attainment of liberation, although this initial dichotomy is quickly nuanced by
al-Brn.
Indeed, these two points of view are anticipated in the passage quoted above
from Kitb Btanjal where two possible answers to this question are given. The
first answer, which might now be understood as the physiological answer, is
that liberation is the result of a cessation of the three (primary) forces (from
their activity) and their return to the source from which they had issued. It
closely relates to this Kitb Snk citation where it is the effect of action that
must disappear in the body before complete liberation can be attained. What
is implied by such a citation is that complete liberation, according to al-Brns
reading of samkhya in his Kitb Snk, is impossible without actual separation
between the body and the soul once action has ceased and the effects of action
have completely disappeared. In this regard it would appear that al-Brns
desire to differentiate between the two men results from his understand-
ing that numerous philosophical differences exist between yoga and samkhya.
Samkhya, as has been argued in earlier chapters, relies primarily on the exercise
of the discernment of purua/spirit from prakrti/matter on the basis of cate-
gories of differentiation and is, in harmony with this interpretation, presented
to us by al-Brn, through the citation given from Kitb Snk, in strictly dualis-
tic terms. The second answer, on the other hand, where liberation is understood
in terms of the return of the soul in a state of knowing to its nature, is clearly
epistemological and, as was discussed above, is consciously intended to be so
given al-Brns emphatic insertion of the word limatan, knowing, into the
original Kitb Btanjal phrase. Thus, the quotation, analysed below, cited from
his Kitb Btanjal has the purpose of reflecting and elaborating on this sec-
ond epistemological understanding of liberation suggesting on the face of it
that al-Brns interpretation of Kitb Snk and Kitb Btanjal establishes a
170 chapter 6

bipolar differentiation. Al-Brns reading of yoga through the citation that he


consequently gives from his Kitb Btanjal reveals a level of sophistication that
takes the reader beyond the theoretical level of dualistic finality to be found in
his presentation of samkhya to the actual possibility of real liberation by sug-
gesting that the soul may attain complete liberation whilst still in the body.
Thus, by illustrating this conscious and interpretative differentiation between
the translated texts of the two men through the analysis of these two con-
trasting citations given in the Hind as an example of such, it will be argued that
al-Brn actively chose to emphasise the methodology of Patajalis yoga, as he
deduces it, when describing his view of the Hindu understanding of the soul,
over the dualistic metaphysics of samkhya. As a consequent conclusion, we sur-
mise that al-Brn was actively engaged in a process of creatively reading and
interpreting these Sanskrit texts rather than merely translating and citing from
them.
Before the second citation from Kitb Btanjal is given, however, al-Brn
seems intent on nuancing the dichotomy described by highlighting the fact
that both opinions concerning the attainment of liberation are addressed in
Kitb Btanjal. This is revealed in his citation where the response to the ques-
tion regarding how liberation is brought about suggests the two possible an-
swers: one physiological, the other epistemological.70 Yet, we suggest that ac-
cording to al-Brns interpretation, as set out in his Hind, although both opin-
ions are considered only the second71 is in fact maintained and developed
further in Kitb Btanjal whereas the first72 remains an unfulfilled option. Al-
Brn explains:

Moreover, in Kitb Btanjal that which bears supporting witness in sem-


blance of what has been cited above [from Kitb Snk] is his [Btanjals]
reference to a man who has restrained his feelings and [five] senses in
the manner that a tortoise withdraws its limbs when it is afraid. Such a
man is not bound because the bond has been loosened nor is he liber-
ated because he still has his body with him.73

70 Hind, p. 61, l. 16.


71 Liberation through the return of the soul in a state of knowing to its nature.
72 Liberation through the cessation of the three forces and their return to the source from
which they had issued.
73 wa amma f Kitbi Btanjal falladhi yashhadu limithli m taqaddama qawluhu fman
qabaa awssahu wa mashirahu qaba l-sulafti aah inda l-khawfi. Innahu laysa
bimawthqin liannahu alla l-riba wa l mutakhalliin lianna badanahu maahu. (Hind,
p. 62, l. 10).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 171

What is immediately noticeable in Sachaus translation of this passage is that


he mistakenly considers the latter part of it to be a direct quotation from Kitb
Btanjal.74 The most obvious reason for this would seem that he had earlier
interpreted the difference between the two men referred to in the text as
being one between pupil and master introducing the latter explicatory phrase
in his translation where no Arabic equivalent is to be found. Thus, the logical
consequence according to this reading is that an internal difference must exist
in the dialogue between the pupil and master in each of the two texts, Kitb
Snk and Kitb Btanjal, that al-Brn then cites from. This, however, cannot
be the case in the Kitb Snk citation where the question of the hermit and
answer of the sage do not reflect a difference of opinion. On the contrary,
an elaboration is requested by the hermit from the sage regarding what is a
shared position.75 Sachau does not attempt to force a difference of opinion
within the Kitb Snk citation between pupil and master as he sees it but
tries to establish the difference in this bridging text (hereafter referred to as
bridging text)76 between the two authentic citations in which al-Brn begins
to discuss the attainment of liberation according to his interpretation of Kitb
Btanjal. In it Sachau attempts to introduce a quotation where none exists
with the phrases there is a passage which expresses and he says that that
are not to be found in the Arabic. Indeed, the absence in the Arabic of either
qla or qawluhu, that are used throughout the Hind to indicate the opening
of a quotation, supports the argument that there is no direct citation and that
Sachaus reading of a difference of opinion in the dialogue between pupil
and master is, therefore, doubtful. In his Annotations Sachau admits that
he has neither been able to locate this nor the subsequent citation in The
Yoga Aphorisms of Patajali.77 He may be forgiven for such an inaccuracy

74 In the book of Patajali there is a passage which expresses similar ideas. Speaking of a
man who restrains his senses and organs of perception, as the turtle draws in its limbs
when it is afraid, he says that he is not fettered, because the fetter has been loosened, and
he is not liberated, because his body is still with him. (Sachau, 1910, vol. i: 82).
75 The sages elaboration develops from the hermits question rather than contradicting it
with a different position: The hermit in the book of Snk asked: Why does death not occur
with the cessation of action? The sage answered: This is because separation requires a
certain spiritual state whilst the soul is in the body . (Hind, p. 62, l. 1).
76 This passage (Hind, p. 62, l. 1012) which is to be found between the two direct citations,
the first from Kitb Snk and the second from Kitb Btanjal, will henceforth be referred
to as the bridging text.
77 I have not found these two passages anywhere else. As to the faculties of the perfect Yogin,
cf. Yoga Aphorims, iii. 42, 44, 45 (Sachau, 1910, vol. ii: 287).
172 chapter 6

given the fact that he did not have access to Kitb Btanjal in order to verify
these citations to be found in the Hind.
Upon consulting Kitb Btanjal it becomes apparent that what Sachau had
considered to be a direct quotation is in fact an interpretative development by
al-Brn based on an amalgamation of two separate passages. The first of these
passages is to be found at the outset of Kitb Btanjal and is an answer to the
second question posed by the postulant, al-sil, who is identified in the very
first question as being an ascetic, al-zhid. In it Patajali answers in a manner
that closely resembles what Sachau had considered to be a direct citation but
had failed to locate even among the Yoga Aphorisms that he refers to:78

The postulant said: what would the state of a man be were he to withdraw
his souls faculties [in]to himself and restrict them from spreading out?
[Patajali] answered: he would not be completely bound having severed
the corporeal ties between himself and what is other and abandoned
attachment to what is external to him, and he would not qualify for
liberation because his soul is with his body.79

This question along with its answer in Kitb Btanjal appears to be a much
fuller and more detailed version of its sibling passage in the Hind and is cer-
tainly not a direct quotation. Indeed, it would seem that al-Brn is paraphras-
ing and interpreting his original translation in order to shape the original ques-
tion and answer into the bridging text that he intends it to be between the first
citation taken from Kitb Snk and the second taken directly from Kitb Btan-
jal. In addition, the collapsing of the question-and-answer dialogic format in
the sibling passage in the Hind reveals that the purpose of the text has changed

78 Pines and Gelblum suggest that this second question by the postulant in Kitb Btanjal
resembles Veda-vysas Yogabhya commentary introducing Stra 1.3: tad-avasthe cetasi
viaybhvd, buddhi-bodhtm purua kisvabhva Since there is no object when the
mind is in this state, what will be the character of the self which consists of intellected and
intellection? . (1966: 314) Yet the relationship between these two passages seems not to
be one of direct resemblance but rather that the commentary which Pines and Gelblum
cite is the direct epistemological consequence of what the postulant is more materially or
physiologically describing in Kitb Btanjal.
79 Qla l-silu: faidh qabaa l-insnu ilayhi quw nafsihi wa manaah ani l-intishri
kayfa yaknu luhu? Qla l-mujbu: l yaknu al kamli l-withqi wa qad qaaa aliqa
l-jismiyyati amm baynahu wa bayna m siwhu wa taraka l-tashabbutha bil-khrijti
anhu wa l yaknu mustahilan lil-khali lianna nafsahu maa l-badani. (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 170, l. 5).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 173

from one of explanation through translation to one of analysis through inter-


pretation. Thus the sibling passage is now synthesized into the interpretative
argument that is being formulated by al-Brn, whose purpose is to differen-
tiate between a physiological understanding of liberation to be found in Kitb
Snk80 and an epistemological one that he considers to be dominant in Kitb
Btanjal. Hence, the purpose of the bridging text is not to illustrate that an
analogous opinion of a physiological understanding of liberation also exists in
Kitb Btanjal, as Sachau proposes, but rather that which inexactly resembles
what was cited from Kitb Snk, limithli m taqaddama qawluhu,81 is echoed in
Kitb Btanjal but in fact stops short of resulting in complete liberation. This
is revealed in the meaning of the bridging text and the original question and
answer on which it is based, both of which opine that the state of liberation
that results through the physiological process of withdrawing or restraining the
senses is incomplete. A difference is clearly set out, therefore, between the pre-
ceding citation from Kitb Snk in which the physiological process of restraint
leads to perfect liberation, kamlu l-khali,82 and a similar passage from Kitb
Btanjal, that al-Brn relies on for this bridging text, in which a similar phys-
iological process leads, in this case, to an imperfect state of liberation. Further
evidence for the interpretative development that takes place in this bridging
text is that it consists in both an elision and a development of two completely
separate and textually distant passages, both from Kitb Btanjal. The first dia-
logic source passage, that comes at the very outset of Kitb Btanjal, has already
been identified and analysed. The second source passage, that is elided into
this bridging text under discussion, however, bears much less resemblance to

80 The association of a physiological or material understanding of liberation with Kitb


Snk is emphasized by al-Brn from the very outset of his Hind (at the conclusion of
the second chapter) and in the very first citation that he provides from his Kitb Snk
translation: And the hermit in the book of Snk asked: has there been disagreement
concerning action and the agent or not? The sage answered: [] and all of these opinions
are incorrect for the truth in this is that action is entirely material because it is matter
which binds [the soul], which [causes it to] oscillate from form to form, and which sets
[it] free. It is matter, therefore, which is the agent and all that it subsumes aids it to
accomplish action. The soul is not the agent because it does not possess the different
[necessary] faculties. Wa f Kitb Snk qla l-nsiku: hal ikhtulifa f l-fili wal-fili am l?
Qla l-akmu: [] wa kullu hdhihi l-ri munarifatun ani l-awbi wa innam l-aqqa
fh anna l-fila kullahu lil-mddati liannah hiya llat tarbuu wa turaddidu f l-uwari wa
tukhall fahiya l-filatu wa siru m tatah awnun lah al ikmli l-fili, wa li-khulwi
l-nafsi ani l-quw l-mukhtalifati hiya ghayru filatin. (Hind, p. 22, l. 12 / p. 23, l. 2).
81 Hind, p. 62, l. 10.
82 Ibid, p. 62, l. 9.
174 chapter 6

the interpretation that it inspires in the Hind but is, nevertheless, its direct and
unmistakeable source for reasons that will be set out below. The source pas-
sage in question is to be found in the third section of Kitb Btanjal, al-qiatu
l-thlithatu,83 in which al-Brns commentator, al-mufassiru,84 relates the
manner by which dispensing with movement can take place:

He who wishes to dispense with movement should contemplate the tor-


toise, namely, those intertwined veins above the navel that are likened to
it.85

It is evident that the original passage from Kitb Btanjal differs significantly
from the phrase that is elided into the bridging text of the Hind: in the
manner that a tortoise withdraws its limbs when it is afraid.86 Nevertheless,
the relationship between the two texts can be credibly established in terms of
form, content and context.
Firstly, in terms of form the bridging text in question is unequivocally intro-
duced to us as coming from Kitb Btanjal: Moreover, in Kitb Btanjal that
which bears supporting witness in semblance of what has been cited above
[from Kitb Snk].87 This unequivocal statement allows us to determine with
certainty the fact that the reference to the tortoise must derive from Kitb
Btanjal since al-Brn refers to no other source when introducing the bridging
text. A review of Kitb Btanjal reveals that a tortoise is significantly mentioned
only once throughout the whole book.88 Therefore, this single significant ref-
erence in Kitb Btanjal must, logically, be the original passage on which the
interpretation contained in the phrase that is elided into the bridging text of
the Hind is based.

83 Kitb Btanjal, p. 183, l. 19.


84 Ibid., p. 188, l. 3.
85 wa man arda l-istighna ani l-arakati fal-yatafakkar fl-sulafti wa hiya urqun
multawiyatun fawqa l-surrati shubbihat bih. (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 14).
86 qaba l-sulafti aah inda l-khawfi. (Hind, p. 62, l. 11).
87 wa amma f Kitbi Btanjal falladhi yashhadu limithli m taqaddama qawluhu. (Hind,
p. 62, l. 10).
88 A second irrelevant and brief reference exists in which the tortoise is mentioned among a
list of animals as part of an explanation of the five categories of winds to be found in the
human body: This wind differs in scope among land-based animals and those of the air.
For example, the antelope and the tortoise, wa hdhihi l-ru l-mukhtalifatu l-miqdri f
l-ayawnti l-mushti wal-ayyrati al mithli l-abyi wal-sulafti. (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 190, l. 5).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 175

In terms of content, a relationship between both passages may be estab-


lished on the basis of a common purpose and subject. The image of the tortoise
is employed for a similar purpose in both the Kitb Btanjal original and in the
Hind bridging texts to illustrate the same subject under discussion, namely, the
cessation of movement in the individual.89 In Kitb Btanjal this specific illus-
trative function is unequivocally set forth: He who wishes to dispense with
movement should contemplate the tortoise.90 In the Hind bridging text the
same specific illustrative purpose in the reference to the tortoise is understood,
though not directly expressed, since the subject of the cessation of movement
evidently continues from the preceding citation from Kitb Snk, in which the
image employed for this identical illustrative purpose is that of a silk-weaver
spinning his wheel. The continuation in the discussion of this subject is indi-
cated at the outset of the bridging text where al-Brn affirms this continuation
through the phrase: Moreover, in Kitb Btanjal that which bears support-
ing witness in semblance of what has been cited above [from Kitb Snk].91
In this case, and in contradistinction to the Kitb Snk citation, the cessation
of action does not lead to complete liberation but represents a form of physi-
cal self-control. The original citation from Kitb Btanjal whose subject is the
manner by which physical movement may be dispensed with is further sup-
ported through the reference to the tortoise in a metaphoric allusion to those
intertwined veins above the navel,92 the contemplation of which constitutes a
mental exercise that leads to the cessation of movement and not to any form of
liberation whether complete or incomplete. This metaphoric tortoise becomes
a real one in the Hind through its transformation from a metaphor into a sim-
ile by al-Brn in the bridging text under consideration: in the manner that
[as] a tortoise withdraws its limbs when it is afraid.93 The purpose of the sim-
ile further corroborates the purpose of the bridging text that seems to address
some form of cessation of the physical faculties whether this be in terms of
movement or action or restraint. Yet as with the original Kitb Btanjal source
citation such a physical restraint of the bodily feelings and senses (as described
in this instance) does not lead to any form of liberation whether partial or total:

89 Such a common relationship in terms of subject and purpose cannot be established


between the Hind bridging text and the second reference to a tortoise in Kitb Btanjal
(p. 190, l. 5) which is cited as part of an example constituting an illustrative explanation of
the five categories of winds to be found in the human body.
90 Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 14.
91 Hind, p. 62, l. 10.
92 Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 14.
93 Hind, p. 62, l. 10.
176 chapter 6

Such a man is not bound because the bond has been loosened nor is he liber-
ated because he still has his body with him.94 Thus it may be concluded that
in terms of the content, the reference to the tortoise as a simile in the bridging
text builds interpretatively on the metaphoric reference in the original Kitb
Btanjal source passage since both tortoises share the same purpose and relate
to the same underlying subject.
Finally, this bridging text in the Hind can be explicitly related to the origi-
nal passage in Kitb Btanjal by considering the context of both. The parallel
is striking since in both works these two passages immediately precede exactly
the same material that is directly cited in the Hind from Kitb Btanjal. Thus,
the Kitb Btanjal passage under consideration is part of an expository excur-
sus by al-Brns commentator, al-mufassiru,95 and immediately precedes
the forty-seventh question and answer in which the subject of the relation-
ship between the soul and the body is discussed within the context of the
ascetics attainment of both praxis and knowledge as necessary for liberation.
The bridging text in the Hind currently being analysed also immediately pre-
cedes a direct citation from the very same answer to the forty-seventh question
in Kitb Btanjal. Hence, given the context of both passages, it can be con-
cluded that the reference to the tortoise in the Hind bridging text strongly
suggests it derives directly from the Kitb Btanjal commentary, and that the
content and purpose of both passages in which the tortoise appears are related
not only to each other but also to their respective contexts, in particular, to the
same passage that both precede. With such a conclusion it becomes justifiably
and methodologically possible to consider the psychology of the Hind as an
interpretative and creative intellectual elaboration by al-Brn of his earlier
explanatory translation in Kitb Btanjal. Kitb Btanjal is thus an indispens-
able source for comparative analysis providing the precursory conceptual and
psychological background for understanding the development of these ideas
in the Hind.
An indication of the relationship between these two texts in the manner that
is being suggested is provided by al-Brn in the concluding paragraph of his
preface to the Hind where he states:

And I had translated into Arabic two books, the first on principles and the
description of existents called Snk, and the other on the emancipation
of the soul from the fetters of the body called Btanjal. These two contain

94 Hind, p. 62, l. 11.


95 Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 3.
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 177

the fundamentals of their [the Hindus] belief but without the details
of their [religious] laws. It is my hope that this book [the Hind] will
represent96 [ yanbu an] the earlier two and others as a written statement
[al-taqrr] and will lead to a comprehension of what is requiredGod
willing.97

The passage suggests that the Hind will serve to provide a comprehensive ana-
lytical written representation of the various texts that al-Brn had previously
translated from the Sanskrit. In this respect the earlier texts are not dispens-
able by the reader, as Sachau suggested in his interpretation of the passage,98
rather the Hind represents al-Brns interpretative and analytical synthesis of
the range of Sanskrit source material that he had earlier translated into Arabic
and explained. Thus an uninterrupted methodological arch might now be con-
vincingly traced from the earlier translation to the exploratory interpretation
in the Hind. Indeed, the analysis undertaken so far in this study has revealed
the indispensability of the text of Kitb Btanjal for an accurate comprehen-
sion of the manner in which it is relied on for analysis and interpretation in the
Hind. This understanding might be more generally applied to all the primary
sources that al-Brn had translated into Arabic and makes use of in the Hind
despite the fact that most are no longer extant. Such a generalization must,
therefore, remain speculative for those non-extant sources. The comparative
use of Kitb Btanjal may, in conclusion, be considered to be crucial for the
purpose of gauging the methodological depth and analytical sophistication of
al-Brns psychology in the Hind.

96 Sachau translates this sentence as: I hope that the present book will enable the reader
to dispense with these two earlier ones, and with other books of the same kind; that it
will give a sufficient representation of the subject, and will enable him to make himself
thoroughly acquainted with itGod willing (Sachau, 1910, vol. i: 8). Although Sachau
does not directly address the word yanbu in his translation, choosing instead an inter-
pretation of the meaning in which the earlier two texts are dispensed with by the reader
he, nevertheless, immediately returns to the more accurate meaning of the word yanbu
an through the subsequent phrase a sufficient representation of the subject which is a
rather wide interpretation of the Arabic al-taqrr that it intended to render.
97 wa kuntu naqaltu il l-arabiyyi Kitbayni aaduhum f l-mabdii wa ifati l-mawjdti,
wa ismuhu Snk wal-kharu f takhli l-nafsi min ribi l-badani wa yurafu bi- Btanjal
wa fhim aktharu l-uli llat alayh madru itiqdihim dna furi shariihim, wa
arj anna hdh yanbu anhum wa an ghayrihim fil-taqrri wa yuadd il l-iati
bil-malbi bimashati llhi (Hind, p. 6, l. 1).
98 Sachau, 1910, vol. i: 8.
178 chapter 6

The practical significance of such a conclusion is twofold. First on a general


level, establishing a direct relationship between the two texts allows for the
analysis of the original source in Kitb Btanjal in order to clarify, comprehend
and appreciate the reasoning behind the interpretative development founded
on it in the Hind. The content of this latter magnum opus is very often in a
conceptually condensed and textually concentrated form that, if read in iso-
lation, could lead to much misunderstanding and mistranslation. The picture
emerging from this comparative analysis confirms the basic argument that it is
no longer possible to describe al-Brn as a mere translator when considering
the Hind or indeed even Kitb Btanjal. Al-Brn is clearly interested in read-
ing Patajali creatively and interpretatively for the purpose, among others, of
developing a novel psychological perspective. The reasons behind such a pur-
pose may be the subject of debate; however, the indubitable existence of this
interpretative development can no longer be ignored. Second and more specif-
ically, the fact that the bridging text in the Hind, though not a direct quotation,
has been found to derive directly from two separate passages in Kitb Btanjal
reveals the complexity in the integration of ideas and their conceptual synthe-
sis undertaken by al-Brn in the Hind. The bridging text is composed through
the elision of material and its creative interpretation on the level of form, con-
tent, and context in a profoundly sophisticated manner.
Although the bridging text in the Hind reveals certain superficial similarities
with the Kitb Snk citation as suggested by al-Brn, nevertheless, in terms
of its conceptual content a disparity may be surmised. Whereas in the citation
that follows it from Kitb Btanjal the cessation of movement leads to complete
liberation, in the bridging text, that is inspired by the Kitb Btanjal source
passage, dispensing with physical movement does not in fact lead to complete
liberation. The scene is now set for the introduction of the next direct citation
from Kitb Btanjal, as al-Brn presents it, and that he argues contradicts the
previous bridging text also taken from Kitb Btanjal as well as the Kitb Snk
citation99 that precedes both. One would, therefore, expect to find in this new
citation a reflection or elaboration of the more epistemological understand-
ing of liberation that is proposed in the question and two possible answers100

99 Hind, p. 62, l. 1.
100 See Hind, p. 61, l. 16 quoted and translated above. This question with its two possible
responses, analyzed earlier and based on the 78th question and answer in Kitb Btanjal,
is slightly modified in the Hind interpretation in order to establish a clear differentiation
between the two possibilities: one answer being physiological in character, the other
epistemological.
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 179

taken from Kitb Btanjal given immediately prior to these three passages101
and representing the second possible response to the question concerning how
liberation may be attained: the first physiological, the second epistemological,
as discussed above. Such a bipolar differentiation, however, is not arbitrarily
imposed in al-Brns interpretation of the two passages from Kitb Snk and
Kitb Btanjal. Indeed, it will become evident in his reading of a second passage
from Kitb Btanjal102 that what al-Brn undertakes seems to suggest a non-
physiological attainment of complete liberation rather than a clearly expressed
epistemological one. This is, in fact, confirmed in the subsequent complemen-
tary (fourth) passage103 taken, perhaps surprisingly, from Kitb Snk in which
the ideas set out here naturally develop toward their epistemological conclu-
sion. On this basis, it is argued that the difference of opinion regarding the
attainment of liberation between the two men (Snk and Btanjal) is revealed
to be part of al-Brns interpretative analysis of these two translated texts and
is most apparently shown by incorporating both points of view in each of these
translations. It is al-Brn who selectively interprets from both Kitb Snk and
Kitb Btanjal to facilitate for the reader a harmonious analysis leading to a
unified understanding, without hiding the fact that he is setting out an inter-
pretation and that the texts carry the potential for both opinions relating to the
attainment of liberation. The point that al-Brn seems to be making is that
although both possibilities are described in his two translations of Kitb Snk
and Kitb Btanjal they, nevertheless, seem to differ concerning the attainment
of liberation. Kitb Snk apparently tends towards the physiological answer
whilst Kitb Btanjal prefers the epistemological one. It is, however, the case
that the epistemological interpretation, as al-Brn presents it, is the more con-
vincing in his opinion and the one that he finally settles on in both texts. Thus,
the interpretation that al-Brn gives here takes the reader beyond the indi-
vidual arguments (at times contradictory) that are in themselves selected and
translated by him from Kitb Snk and Kitb Btanjal. This is in order to present
his unified reading in the Hind of these translations that is both a synthesized
and authoritative viewpoint of Hindu psychology as well as of many other sub-
jects related to India beyond his study.

101 The first being from Kitb Snk, then the bridging text, finally the citation from Kitb
Btanjal.
102 Excluding the opening question with its two possible answers (Hind, p. 61, l. 16) based on
the 78th question and answer in Kitb Btanjal which is also subject to an interpretative
reading by al-Brn.
103 See Hind, p. 63, l. 7.
180 chapter 6

Thus the second citation from Kitb Btanjal is now presented as describing
a different opinion concerning the attainment of liberation from that which
was indicated in the opening passage given by al-Brn from Kitb Snk with
its rather physiological reading. The reader is, therefore, naturally led to expect
that this apparent quotation from Kitb Btanjal will support in its argumen-
tation the second more epistemological answer to the question concerning the
attainment of liberation.104 This is by no means the case as the translation
below of this passage reveals:

That which contradicts it [above citation from Kitb Snk] from his dis-
course [in Kitb Btanjal] is his statement: bodies are the nets of souls to
acquire recompense. He who arrives at the stage of liberation has recom-
pensed in his physical mould his past actions and he suspends acquisition
in the future. [As a result] he frees himself from the net and no longer
needs his mould. He moves freely within it, without being ensnared. He is
able to go wherever and whenever he wishes not in the manner that [this
movement] takes place after death. Thick and contiguous bodies are no
obstacle to his mould, how much the less [then is] his body in relation to
his soul.105

What al-Brn intends by his initial statement here that this Kitb Btanjal
citation, as he seems to claim it to be by using the opening word qawluhu,106
contradicts the previous bridging text also inspired by Kitb Btanjal as well
as the opening citation taken from Kitb Snk, cannot be in reference to a phys-
iological or epistemological contradiction or difference in the understanding of
liberation between the earlier two passages and this present citation. Further,
it cannot be in reference to a contradictory conception regarding the means by
which liberation is attained: whether this is a physiological or epistemological
process. This observation is supported by the clear absence of any epistemolog-
ical terms in this citation despite the fact that the first half of the source passage
in Kitb Btanjal, omitted here, reveals an unmistakably epistemological lan-

104 See Hind, p. 61, l. 16.


105 walladh yukhlifuhu min kalmihi qawluhu: inna l-abdna shibku l-arwi liistfi
l-mukfaati wal muntah il darajati l-khali qad istawfh f qlibihi al m l-fili
thumma taaala ani l-iktisbi lil-mustanafi fanalla ani l-shabakati wa staghn ani
l-qlibi wa taqalqala fhi ghayra mushtabakin fahuwa qdirun al l-intiqli il aythu
aabba wa mat arda l al wajhi l-mawti fainna l-ajsma l-kathfata l-mutamsikata
ghayru mumniatin liqlibihi fakayfa jasaduhu li-rihi (Hind, p. 62, l. 12).
106 qla or qawluhu are used throughout the Hind to indicate the opening of a quotation.
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 181

guage in its conception of liberation and of the means by which it is attained.


Had al-Brns intention been to emphasize the epistemological nature of lib-
eration in Kitb Btanjal he would certainly not have omitted this opening half
of the answer to the 47th question:

The questioner said: is there above this recompense through knowledge


anything higher? Patajali answered: why should this not be the case?
For this knowledge is not truly knowledge but is in fact an obstacle to
true knowledge. We had previously described the consequences of the
theoretical part107 of knowledge, let us now discuss the consequences of
the practical part of knowledge. In the case of the ascetic described earlier
who has acquired the advantage of praxis [combined] with knowledge
and is at the point of attaining what is being sought [by him], if he wishes
to move while in this [state of] entanglement from his body to another
body that has become free from its soul,108 then this movement would

107 Reading the Arabic as qism, part, rather than qasm, division. Pines, S., and Gelblum, T.,
(1983: 262) seem to read either qasm or qism and cover both possible readings with divi-
sion which in the English, of course, may be used either as a verb or a noun. They do not
appear to commit themselves to a single reading. However, the context in which theoreti-
cal knowledge was earlier discussed, for example in answer to the 42nd question in Kitb
Btanjal, does not reveal that this knowledge was divided into separate parts: Knowledge
in them [i.e., the final three of the eight qualities or thamn khil (Kitb Btanjal, p. 182,
l. 8) in reference to the Classical Yoga systems eight-limbed path, anga-yoga. The final
three are described as being more distant from the senses and closer to the intellect
(Kitb Btanjal, p. 184, l. 4)] is one for [when] it spreads from the knower to the known
objects it becomes characterized by multiplicity. When [on the other hand] the knower
makes knowledge quiescent and cuts it off from those factors that cause it to spread out
then it becomes one, wal-ilmu fh widun liannahu kna yanbaththu mina l-limi
il l-malmti fatattasimu bil-kathrati, falamm sakkanahu wa qaaa anhu mawdda l-
inbiththi ra widan (Kitb Btanjal, p. 184, l. 8). Furthermore, the current discussion
of practical knowledge does not demonstrate any process of division either. In fact Pata-
jalis answer here is in response to the question whether there is something higher than
the recompense by means of the theoretical knowledge just set out by the commentator,
al-mufassiru (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 3). In response Patajali explains that what had ear-
lier been mentioned is the theoretical part of knowledge, however, there is also a practical
part of knowledge which he now describes and which he considers to be the superior part
(Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 23).
108 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 262), translate the phrase khal an rihi (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 189, l. 5) as except for his spirit in reference to the one who wishes to be transported
in this entanglement from his body to another: If he wishes that he, except for his spirit,
be transported in this entanglement, from his (own) body to another body, not in a way
182 chapter 6

not be in the manner it takes place after death but rather he is able to
carry it out by his volition, will and choice.109

The discussion in the first half of this source passage centres on the nature of
the true knowledge, al-ilmu l-aqq, to be sought after that would lead to
complete liberation and on whether this true knowledge is theoretical knowl-
edge, al-ilmu l-naar, or practical, al-amal.110 Clearly, had al-Brn wished
to set out an epistemological interpretation of liberation at this point in the
Hind through his citation from the 47th question and answer in Kitb Btanjal
then he would certainly not have omitted the first half of that answer which,
as may be surmised from the translation above, sets out a praxis-based knowl-
edge as the means by which the soul attains complete liberation.111 Moreover,

in which (one is) transported after death, but rather in virtue of his (own) will, volition
and (free) choice, he is able to bring this about. However, this cannot be the correct
translation since the state of entanglement, hdh l-irtibki (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 4),
is a reference to the entanglement of the body with the soul, and the soul must in fact be
what is being described as moving from one body to another. The receiving body must,
of course, necessarily be vacant of its soul, khal an rihi, if metempsychosis is to take
place successfully since a single body cannot host two souls simultaneously. Furthermore,
no distinction is made in the Arabic between soul and spirit in order that rihi (Kitb
Btanjal, p. 189, l. 5) be justifiably translated as spirit on this occasion especially since
this would imply that the soul, on being transported from the body of origin, leaves its
spirit behind. Finally, the dictionary definition of the phrase khal an cannot strictly
be translated as except for his spirit as Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., have proposed. See
for example: Hava, J.G., Al-Farid Arabic-English Dictionary. Beirut, Dar el-Mashreq, 1982,
p. 183, where khal an is translated as: to be free from.
109 Qla l-silu: hal fawqa hdhihi l-mukfaati bil-ilmi shayun ashrafu minh? Qla l-
mujbu: lima l yaknu? Wa hdh l-ilmu laysa biilmin fl-aqqati wa innam huwa
mniun ani l-ilmi l-aqq wa qad dhakarn natija qismi l-ilmi l-naar fal-naqul il-
na al natiji qismihi l-amal, wa dhlika anna l-zhida lladh taqaddamat ifatuhu wa
qad aalat lahu maziyyatu l-amali maa l-ilmi wa ashrafa al nayli l-malbi idh arda
an yantaqila f hdh l-irtibki min jasadihi il jasadin kharin khal an rihi intiqlan l
al l-wajhi lladh yaknu bada l-mawti wa-lkin bi-mashatihi wa irdatihi wa ikhtiyrihi
qadara alayhi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 23).
110 Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 2.
111 This is in itself an interesting interpretation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali proposed by
al-Brn in his Kitb Btanjal translation. What seems to be suggested at this point in
Kitb Btanjal is that the results which proceed from the attainment and exercise (praxis)
of practical knowledge, natiji qismihi l-amal (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 2), lead to the
complete state of liberation described in the second half of the answer to question 47 and
which, far from resulting in the souls removal or separation from matter, actually implies
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 183

this epistemological description of the souls complete liberation is understood


within an incarnate context, while the body is still alive, and not in the explic-
itly physiological interpretation presented in the first citation taken from Kitb
Snk, where the soul is only finally completely freed from the body post mortem,
when physical movement completely ceases and it is able to cast away this
now dead body. Complete liberation112 is understood to be attained primar-
ily through the combination of praxis with knowledge, al-amali maa l-ilmi
(Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 3) that would then allow the ascetic to begin a process
that reaches the point of attaining what is being sought, ashrafa al nayli l-
malbi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 3). That which is being sought is described in
the second half of the same answer (to the 47th question), namely, the souls
state of complete liberation through a process of recompense in the body for
former deeds, be they evil or good, a process that can only begin with the com-
bination of praxis with knowledge that the ascetic acquires in the first place:

Since bodies are the nets of souls for the sake of recompensing them for
previous good and evil [actions] with corresponding ease or discomfort
[respectively]. Drawing one of them [good] and driving away the other
[evil] involves some wrongful treatment of a member of his species or of
the other species and [leads to] a prolongation resulting in a [necessary]
assurance of future recompense. The ascetic mentioned above has in fact
fulfilled in his present form everything he merits from the past and he
withdraws from acquisition [of further karma] for the future and is, in his
case, no longer indebted.113 He knows where his soul has come from and
where it is going and is thus able to transfer it [soul] and move it without
being stuck to the body in which the soul [now] moves freely. For this
reason too he is able to die by his volition whenever he wishes.114

that one of the benefits in the praxis of the three methods of spiritual ascesis described
elsewhere in Kitb Btanjal (p. 184, l. 3) and summarized here as praxis [combined] with
knowledge, al-amal maa l-ilm (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 3), may be conceived of as a
realignment of soul with matter by means of unification, al-ittid, i.e., yoga.
112 According to the first half of the answer to the 47th question in Kitb Btanjal.
113 Pines, S., and Gelblum, T., (1983: 262), translate the phrase falaysa fhi birahnin as: In his
case there is no guaranteed (necessity).
114 min ajli anna l-abdna shibku l-arwi lilmujzti al l-khayri wa l-sharri l-muta-
qaddimi bimithlihim min nimatin aw shiddatin, wa f jarri aadihim wa dafi l-khari
tamulun m al ahli nawihi aw siri l-anwi wa imdun yaulu bihi l-irtihnu lil-
jazi l-mustanafi, fa-amm l-zhidu l-madhkru faqadi stawf f l-qlibi lladh huwa
fhi m staaqqahu al l-slifi wanqabaa ani l-iktisbi lil-mustanafi falaysa fhi birah-
184 chapter 6

8 Conclusion: Liberation, Metempsychosis and al-Brns Islamic


Reading of Hinduism

In the Hind version of this same passage from Kitb Btanjal it is the final
state of liberation attained through a process of metempsychosis that al-Brn
focuses on rather than a study of the epistemological nature of this liberation
that the original passage in Kitb Btanjal sets out. It is for this reason that the
epistemological dimension of the original version in the Kitb Btanjal passage
is completely removed in the Hind.115 This is not because al-Brn is against an
epistemological reading of yogic liberation but rather because his reinterpre-
tation here of the original passage highlights the central tenet of metempsy-
chosis according to Hinduism as he defines it within an Islamic framework116
and the principal role that it plays in the attainment of liberation. Therefore,
on a methodological level and as part of his overall Islamic interpretation of
Hindu religion, al-Brns purpose in this passage is to illustrate the centrality
of metempsychosis for Hinduism as a whole, given its indispensable function
for the attainment of yogas ultimate goal of liberation. In doing so he is able
to corroborate his defining statement at the outset of the preceding fifth chap-
ter in the Hind that metempsychosis is the characterizing sign of Hinduism.117
For this same purpose not only is the epistemological dimension of the origi-
nal passage completely removed but also the physiological emphasis is signif-
icantly downplayed. In the Hind version of the passage al-Brn removes the
heavily physiological description of the process of recompense118 that includes

nin wa qad alima nafsahu min ayna jat wa il ayna tadhhabu, fa-huwa qdirun alayh
bil-naqli wal-tarki l yatashabbathu bil-badani fa-innah muqalqalatun fhi, wa lihdh
ayan yamtu bi-irdatihi mat sha (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 6).
115 Not only is the heavily epistemological first part of the 47th question and answer in the
original passage from Kitb Btanjal removed in the Hind interpretation but also a number
of significant and related modifications are made by al-Brn within the remaining
second part of the passage. The most noticeable of these is the complete removal of the
phrase falaysa fhi birahnin wa qad alima nafsahu min ayna jat wa il ayna tadhhabu
(Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 10): and is, in his case, no longer indebted. He knows where
his soul has come from and where it is going. It is no coincidence that this particular
phrase which is removed by al-Brn is saliently epistemological in character having as
its main verb alima, to know, and is, therefore, at odds with the analytical focus of his
reinterpretation of the passage.
116 Discussed at the outset of this chapter.
117 Hind, p. 38, l. 4.
118 lilmujzti al l-khayri wa l-sharri l-mutaqaddimi bimithlihim min nimatin aw shid-
datin, wa f jarri aadihim wa dafi l-khari tamulun m al ahli nawihi aw siri
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 185

such sensual vocabulary as ease and discomfort in addition to very physi-


cal verbs such as drawing, and driving away. Further, al-Brn substitutes
the less physiological verb he suspends, taaala in the phrase taaala ani
l-iktisbi (Hind, p. 62, l. 15) for the original verb he withdraws, inqabaa in the
very same phrase wanqabaa ani l-iktisbi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 9). The rea-
son for this modification is not only to reduce the physiological dimension of
the passage but also to create a sharp difference between this passage and the
immediately preceding bridging text119 where in fact the very same verb qabaa
is used twice to describe in very physiological terms the action of a man who
has restrained his feelings and senses in a manner similar to that of a tortoise
withdrawing its limbs when it is afraid. Al-Brn explicitly sets out his under-
standing that the current passage differs from both the preceding bridging text
and citation from Kitb Snk on introducing the current passage from Kitb
Btanjal120 and works on shaping the passage in order to emphasize this differ-
ence to the reader. By understating the physiological dimension of this passage
al-Brn is revealing an interpretation central to his wider argument at this
point, namely, that the liberation of the soul is in no way related to the death
of the body and its being cast away by the soul as explained in the earlier cita-
tion from Kitb Snk, nor can it be achieved through the physical restraint of
ones feelings and senses. Thus according to al-Brns reinterpretation of the
Kitb Btanjal passage there is no direct relationship between the liberation of
the soul and any function or lack thereof in the body either on an epistemo-
logical level or on a physiological one. Liberation is, therefore, attained purely
through the removal of karma121 by means of recompense for past deeds and
refraining from future ones.122 Once karma is removed in this way and irrespec-

l-anwi wa imdun yaulu bihi l-irtihnu lil-jazi l-mustanafi (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189,
l. 6): For the sake of recompensing them for previous good and evil [actions] with corre-
sponding ease or discomfort [respectively]. Drawing one of them [good] and driving away
the other [evil] involves some wrongful treatment of a member of his own species or of the
other species and [leads to] a prolongation resulting in a [necessary] assurance of future
recompense.
119 Hind, p. 62, l. 1012, discussed earlier.
120 walladh yukhlifuhu min kalmihi qawluhu (Hind, p. 62, l. 12): That which contradicts
it [what has been cited above from Kitb Snk] from his [Btanjals] discourse [in Kitb
Btanjal] is his statement.
121 Al-Brn provides the phrase al-aml l-sbiqa, past actions, (Hind, p. 63, l. 10) as an
equivalent term in Arabic for the concept of karma. Cf. also: Others maintain that the
disposer is karma, namely, action: wa zaama kharn anna al-mudabbir huwa Karma
ayy al-amal (Hind, p. 272, l. 10).
122 Hind, p. 62, l. 14.
186 chapter 6

tive of whether its bodily vessel is alive or dead the soul becomes disentangled
from the body and is able to move about freely inside and outside of it and
even transmigrate to another body,123 as long as the target body is vacant of a
soul.124 Death, after the attainment of this state of liberation becomes subject
to the ascetics will who is able to choose the time and place of his death. In
Kitb Btanjal only the time of death is mentioned in the concluding phrase of
the answer to question 47: For this reason too he is able to die by his volition
whenever he wishes.125 This concluding phrase is removed in the Hind reinter-
pretation of the passage and is instead replaced by a related citation from an
unnamed Sufi source:

That which compares to this is expressed by the Sufis. The account of a


group of them is given in their writings: A group of Sufis came to us and
sat some distance away. One of them got up to pray and when he finished
he turned to me and said, O Sheikh, do you know of a location here that
would be suitable for us to die in? I thought that he wanted to sleep and
so I pointed out a location to which he then went, threw himself on his
back and was still. I got up, went towards him and moved him but he had
gone cold. They interpret Gods words: We established him in the land,126
that if he wishes the earth folds itself up for him, and if he so wills it he
can walk on water and air that provide him with enough resistance to do
so whilst mountains do not resist his endeavour.127

It is very significant that al-Brn should make such a modification when con-
cluding his discussion of how liberation is outwardly revealed according to
Hinduism. For it is indeed the case that his citations from Kitb Snk and Kitb
Btanjal, here as elsewhere, are clearly meant to sum up Hindu beliefs on this

123 Hind, p. 62, l. 15.


124 Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 4.
125 wa lihdh ayan yamtu bi-irdatihi mat sha (Kitb Btanjal, p. 189, l. 11).
126 Qurn, 18:84.
127 wa il qarbin min hdh yadhhabu l-fiyya faqad ukiya f kutubihim an baihim: innah
waradat alayn ifatun mina l-fiyyati wa jalas bil-budi ann wa qma aaduhum
yuall fa-lamm farigha iltafata wa qla l y shaykh tarifu hhun mawian yuliu lian
namta fhi? fa-anantu annahu yurdu l-nawma fa-awmatu il mawiin wa dhahaba wa
araa nafsahu al qafhu wa sakana faqumtu ilayhi wa arraktuhu wa idh annahu qad
barida, wa ql f qawli l-lhi tal inn makkann lahu f l-ari: innahu in sha wyat
lahu wa in sha mash al l-mi wal-hawi yuqwimnih fhi wa l tuqwimuhu l-jiblu
f l-qadi (Hind, p. 62, l. 18).
al-nafs: the soul in the hind 187

topic. The replacement of the concluding phrase from the second Kitb Btan-
jal citation with a comparable Sufi account taken from an unnamed source
has two important functions. The first, is to corroborate the content of the
second Kitb Btanjal citation that is reinterpreted and reshaped by al-Brn
for the purpose of demonstrating that the principal outward expression of
spiritual liberation is neither epistemological nor physiological but rather an
act of will through a soul that has become liberated of karma, having recom-
pensed for its past actions, and that has consequently attained the ability to
move freely inside and outside of its body through metempsychosis. Through
this Sufi account al-Brn is able to suggest an additional aspect of this out-
ward sign of spiritual liberation, namely, that this act of will to freely deter-
mine ones time of death also relates to place of death since the Sufi in this
citation also seeks a suitable location for his death to take place. The second
function is comparative in nature since al-Brn is overtly drawing connec-
tions between the commonly held understanding of the outward actions of
spiritual liberation in Hinduism and Sufism. This point is further supported
in the second part of the passage through intertextuality where the Sufi inter-
pretation of the Quranic verse is understood as upholding the ability of a Sufi
who has attained liberation to walk on water and air, among other things. This
same power is attributed to the yogic ascetic who has attained liberation and
that is attested for in the 48th question and answer of Kitb Btanjal where
we are told that he: Therefore walks on flowing water and shifting mud as
someone else would walk on the earths surface without drowning or sink-
ing.128 Al-Brns sophisticated comparative analysis at this point is another
example of how his work exhibits a deep synthetic appreciation of the dif-
ferent religious paths and beliefs that he is interpreting. He also displays an
incredible intellectual sensitivity in the manipulation of the sacred texts at
his disposal that is revealed through the refined intertextual echoes that at
times function on an intra-religious level (Kitb Snk, Kitb Btanjal, the gta
etc.) and at others on an inter-religious one, in this instance Hinduism with
Sufism.
Al-Brn brings the reader at this point to the realization that Hinduism
is indeed defined by metempsychosisits characterizing tenetas he had
established at the outset of the fifth chapter of the Hind. This is because the
ultimate religious goal of spiritual liberation is expressed through the ability of
the soul to move freely and transmigrate in a manner that does not resemble its

128 fa-mash al l-mi l-sili wal-wali l-zazi mashiya ghayrihi al admi l-ari l
yaghriqu wa l yarsibu (Kitb Btanjal, p. 190, l. 2).
188 chapter 6

movement or metempsychosis after death.129 The difference lies in the ability


of the ascetic to exert his willpower at any time over the movement of his soul
while physically alive, whereas after death metempsychosis takes place in a
manner beyond his control.130 Metempsychosis, then, as is illustrated here, is
the functional expression or outward sign of spiritual liberation as well as the
means to attaining this spiritual liberation. It is because of its ubiquitous and
indispensible role that al-Brn earlier defines Hinduism through it and that
may in fact represent the earliest recorded formulation of Hinduism based on
an Islamic religious model. Indeed, as discussed at the outset of this chapter
metempsychosis is stated to be the banner of the Indian religion in an
associative comparison with those articles of faith that characterize Islam,
Christianity and Judaism

129 Hind, p. 62, l. 17.


130 He is able to go wherever and whenever he wishes not in the manner that [this move-
ment] takes place after death: fahuwa qdirun al l-intiqli il aythu aabba wa mat
arda l al wajhi l-mawti (Hind, p. 62, l. 16).
Conclusion

The main argumentative thrust of this book has involved a definition of al-
Brns epistemological method and an illustrative application of this method
in his overview of Hindu metaphysics in the Hind. A case study of Hindu psy-
chology in Kitb Btanjal and the Hind was then undertaken, chiefly to demon-
strate the continuum of his methodological approach from the Arabic transla-
tion of a Sanskrit source (Kitb Btanjal) to its integration and explication in
the Hind.
Aside from the main argument, a number of conclusions have been drawn
in the process which may be summarised as follows. The aim of the prelimi-
nary chronological study and evaluation of secondary literature on the Hind
was primarily to conduct a comparative analysis of a number of articles relat-
ing to this work. Despite the differences in approach, however, it was concluded
that certain a priori positions were uncritically inherited and preserved from
earlier scholarship. The nature of this analysis was, therefore, a critical study
of the manner in which al-Brns methodology has been taken out of its tex-
tual and historical context and how his approach to Indian thought in the
Hind has been misinterpreted. Edward Sachaus important preface to his trans-
lation of the Hind was found to be the beginning of a real appreciation in
European scholarship of al-Brn as a cultural historian, scientist and Indol-
ogist. Further, it was concluded that this preface formed the basis of assump-
tions and the source of many of the arguments to be found in later publica-
tions.
Analysis of the prologues to three of al-Brns works was attempted in order
to arrive at a more accurate appreciation of his methodology and philosophy.
Three points of reference were maintained throughout, whose general absence
was found to somewhat hamper much of the scholarship examined. First, little
recognition of the need to place each prologue in a historical, political and pro-
fessional context so as to ensure an interpretation that takes into consideration
questions of dynastic rivalry and promotion, patronage and personal advance-
ment. Second, was the need to place this writing in an intellectual context so
as to avoid the commonly encountered analysis of al-Brn in a vacuum that
leads, inevitably, to a conclusion that describes his thought as exceptional in
the adverse and anomalous sense of the word. Finally, al-Brns methodology
was gleaned from a reinterpretation of the language he uses ensuring that the
development and refinement of his methodology is derived from a new philo-
logical appreciation of his writings and their historic-intellectual context and
not imposed on them.

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190 conclusion

The sources, structure and organisation of the Hind were then considered
and the conclusions which may be drawn from them. The dominant note
here was contesting scholarship which uses this organisation to argue that
either al-Brn was limited to a number of sources from which he derived
his information or that he wittingly limited himself through the structure and
content of the Hind to a preconceived view of Hindu culture and belief.
To address these considerations, the case study presented here focused on
al-Brns understanding and use of Sanskrit literature. It was a philological
study which consisted, in the main, of an analysis of the religious content and
metaphysics of Kitb Btanjal. On the basis of this case study the conclusion
has been drawn that there is indeed a continuum of methodological perspec-
tive between Kitb Btanjal and the Hind and that Kitb Btanjal marks the
beginning of an interpretation and evaluation of the Yoga-Stra of Patajali
which finds its final form in the Hind.
First, Kitb Btanjal and the Hind seem not only to maintain a continuum
of methodological perspective but also comprise a representation of the Yoga-
Stra which closely, though not slavishly, reflect the Stras and fully engage
with both known commentaries and some currently unidentified. Second, this
representation is as illuminative of the cultural and intellectual context in
which these works arose as it is of their immediate subject. Thus a sense of al-
Brns socio-intellectual environment suggests itself in the choice and treat-
ment of the subject matter, informing the Arabic philosophical debate concern-
ing the nature of the soul with a novel, if unorthodox, perspective. This is not
to ignore the important role which Kitb Btanjal plays as an eleventh-century
reflection of the Yoga-Stra which, in addition, closely represents an earlier
tradition of as yet unidentified commentaries. The final aim of this case study
was to establish a preliminary template for examining al-Brns understand-
ing and appraisal of Hinduism and for assessing the nature of his interpretative
translation, and his capacity for the evaluation of other Sanskrit texts cited in
the Hind.
A number of additional conclusions were made in the course of this book;
the first is a reversal of the claim that al-Brn reported little about India from
first-hand observation and personal analysis and that he instead consulted
Brahmin gurus who were willing to respond to his questions and communicate
their knowledge to him only fragmentarily. Through a close philological study
of Kitb Btanjal and the Hind it was revealed that al-Brn was fully capable
not only of understanding primary Sanskrit sources but also synthesising their
contents into a unified and well-constructed whole both on the level of criti-
cal translation in Kitb Btanjal and a commentarial and analytical one in the
Hind.
conclusion 191

A final salient argument which was presented centres on the notion that
al-Brn introduced Islamic categories into his analysis of Hindu thought.
Specifically, his structuring of Hindu belief as it is depicted begins with God
as transcendent being, treats His relation to creation, and, after an excursus
on the Greek/Hindu notion of metempsychosis, concludes with the depiction
of His saving power. This refinement was undertaken through a philological
evaluation of the relevant terminology, contextualised on the basis of the Hindu
subject matter to which the terminology applies, and reassessed based on
the conclusion that the Hind took partial shape as an extension of al-Brns
intensive interest in, and translation of the book,1 namely, the Yoga-Stra of
Patajali.
Al-Brn presents his interpretation of Hindu belief in metempsychosis in
the fifth chapter of the Hind in the light of his defining statement that this is the
characterizing feature of Hinduism. It is an interpretation that clearly betrays
an Islamic understanding of religion. Here the concept of metempsychosis is
not only represented as the chief distinguishing feature of what al-Brn refers
to as the Indian religion as a whole, but also forms the final refinement in
the exploration of the content and nature of Hindu psychology begun with
his translation of Sanskrit texts on the subject among which is included Kitb
Btanjal. Interestingly, the preface to Kitb Btanjal also cites the belief in
metempsychosis as a headline religious doctrine and, by direct association, the
framework for the psychology of the book, which suggests the existence of this
overarching theme from the very outset:

An introduction which halts partly on the nature of the people and the
book: This is a people whose discourse about their religion is never bare of
topics concerning reincarnation and the misfortunes of incarnation and
unification and generation not according to the principle of birth.2

The discussion on the nature of the soul in the Hind enables us to identify the
wider concept of metempsychosis as the common denominator in the vari-
ous psychological details cited, and as the theoretical mould within which the
quoted passages from identifiable sources and diverse technical and termino-
logical descriptions are set. This concluding argument not only consolidates
the notion of a continuity, synthesis of method, and psychology in the process
from Kitb Btanjal to the Hind, but also establishes, by this proposed single

1 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 14.


2 Ibid.
192 conclusion

unifying concept, far greater philosophical and religious significance within the
then contemporary intellectual context of the vibrant and, at times subversive,
Muslim psychological debate. What is of primary interest for consideration is
the approach towards the concept of metempsychosis in a number of Muslim
authors illustrating a surprising diversity of opinion.
An objection may be raised regarding the rationale of comparing the discus-
sion of metempsychosis in the Hind, being, overtly a description of a doctrine
within the Hindu belief system, with the concept of metempsychosis in Mus-
lim metaphysical writing such as in the De Anima of Avicennas Shif. This
would be the case if the text of the Hind was composed purely of transla-
tions and direct quotations from Sanskrit sources with no analytical, critical or
explanatory input whatsoever. On the contrary, however, not only is the subject
explained in a manner which facilitates understanding for a Muslim reader-
ship by means of, for example, illuminating comparisons with Sufism and the
classical Greek tradition but also, and more significantly, the terminology of
the contemporary Arabic philosophical debate is consciously used throughout.
This usage, as earlier proposed, suggests a motivation beyond the simple pre-
sentation of a foreign non-Islamic doctrine. The Hind seems to engage with
and expound on the subject of metempsychosis within what may be described
as an Islamic sphere of intellectual writing and deliberation but without any
self-imposed restrictions or limiting caveats thanks to its overtly non-Islamic
subject matter. Such a choice of subject renders the accusation of heresy a log-
ical impossibility and grants the author a free hand to explore unscathed this
controversial concept, in all its facets, within the sphere of the Islamic reading
of Hinduism which he provides.
This book focused primarily on the contemporary implications and con-
textual significations of al-Brns treatise on the Hind. Thus, the systemati-
sation of Hinduism which al-Brn undertook was considered in terms of its
internal methodological dynamic and was only then tentatively set against
the contemporary Graeco-Arabic epistemological and psychological system as
expressed in Ibn Sns writings. The potential within such an approach lies in
the understanding that the language of the then contemporary Arabic philo-
sophical debate was basically Greek in heritage, such that a possible conclusion
from the ability to undertake a comparison of this sort, both terminologically
and conceptually, is that al-Brns treatise is in effect a Graeco-Arabic philo-
sophical systematisation of Indian cosmology for the purpose of alternative
debate.
A second potentially promising area for further analysis, on the basis of these
considerations, is the possible development and later impact on Sufism by
this relatively early and unprecedented systematisation of Hinduism in Ara-
conclusion 193

bic. For whilst al-Brn considered in his treatise an entirely novel civilisation
and religion,3 he draws interesting and illustrative parallels with religious and
psychological trends within his Islamic tradition and civilisation from the very
outset,4 the most suggestive of which are those drawn in the Hind with Sufism
and contemporary Sufi figures. The period in which al-Brn composed Kitb
Btanjal and the Hind was one in which Sufism was disparately expressed (rep-
resented by such figures as al-Bism, al-Shibl and al-allj) but also faced
the challenge of the recently undertaken Islamic cosmological systematisa-
tion of philosophy and kalm. That certain psychological and epistemologi-
cal issues in Hinduism centring on the relationship of humanity with God,
the connection of the lower with the higher, and the sophisticated, at times,
unorthodox approach to understanding the Deity are also Sufi concerns which
are, arguably, approached in a similar manner has not eluded earlier schol-
ars. For example, a direct parallel is drawn in the Hind between the path or
doctrine of Patajali and that of the Sufis regarding their preoccupation with
meditation on the Truth, al-aqq, and an insistence by both on the prior-
ity of a monistic approach in their meditation on existence (Kitb Btanjal,
p. 197, l. 20; Hind, p. 66, l. 12). This latter passage in the Hind is cited by Louis
Massignon (1922: 78) in his development of the argument for a direct appropri-
ation of Hindu mysticism (1922: 63) and, in particular, the teachings of Patajali
by both early Sufi thinking and individuals.5 Neither the importance of Kitb
Btanjal in this process of influence is overlooked (1922: 79) nor the role of
the Hind (1922: 6465). Massignons promising arguments in this area have not
been sufficiently explored (though, there is, as a rare example, an article6 on
the striking similarities in a number of early Sufi citations with their equiva-
lents in important Sanskrit religious texts). It is hoped that the importance of

3 In the introduction to a fascinating subsection of his Lexique entitled Lhindouisme et la


mystique de lIslam, (1922: 63), Louis Massignon differentiates between Islams early amalga-
mation of Greek/Persian science and philosophy and the independent influence, primarily
on Islamic mysticism, and the direct appropriation of Hinduism that came as a result of sud-
den Islamic expansion, (1922: 63).
4 Although Massignon knew of the existence of Kitb Btanjal in manuscript form (1922: 79) he
does not discuss it in detail. He was, nevertheless, fully aware of al-Brns centrality in any
early comparative assessment of Islam and Hinduism or the quantification of any influence
of one on the other (1922: 7780).
5 Massignon sets out his Samkhyan understanding of the teachings of Patajali (1922: 7273)
then attempts a terminological comparison, in tabular form, between the vocabulary used
by Patajali and that used in Islamic mysticism (1922: 74).
6 Zaehner, R.C., (1955: 286301).
194 conclusion

al-Brns Indology, as explored in this analysis, will prove to be a useful tool


for consequent research in measuring the extent of the influence of Hinduism
on the early formative period of Sufism as well as its later systematisation.
appendix

Translation of Section iv of Kitb Btanjal

(Ritter, p. 193)1

The Fourth Section

q. 57. The postulant said: you stated earlier that the [condition of] renunciation in the
afore-mentioned renunciant is only achieved either through devotion undertaken with
a pure and immaculate heart, with good intention and a holiness in actions or through
reining in from the objects of sense perception and a domination of the senses. Can
this [condition] be achieved in any way other than these two?
[Patajali] answered: it is achieved in five ways: the first of which is that the indi-
vidual performs many good acts in the world and worships God for an extensive period
of time and will, consequently, not attain this [condition of] renunciation in the [bod-
ily] vessel he is in until he is transported by death, having been readied for a [bodily]
vessel in which he can enjoy this [condition]. The second [way] is that he should per-
form many good deeds and increase his efforts in devotion as a result of which God will
grace him, whilst in his [bodily] vessel, with the acquisition of wisdom and purvey to
him, whilst in it [bodily vessel], the splendour of this [condition of] renunciation. The
third [way]2 is that he achieve it by ingesting rasyana, drugs and medical treatments
prescribed for this [purpose].3 The fourth and fifth [ways] are those earlier stated at
the outset.
q. 58. The postulant said: is it possible for the aforementioned renunciant to become
spiritual [spirit-like]?
[Patajali] answered: as for when he is in his bodily vessel then he is unable to
transfer to that stage and when he separates from his [bodily] vessel then if this [state
of separation] persists and he intensifies one of the three primary forces as if it were

1 The page numbers and question numbers in this translation correspond to the Arabic edition
by Ritter, which is used here.
2 thumma atbaah biqismin rbiin khurafiyyin yusamm Rasyan wa hiya tadbru biadwiy-
atin tajr majr l-kmyi f tali l-mumtanati bih (Hind, p. 61, l. 4). Then he [Patajali]
adds to these [parts] a fantastical fourth part called Rasyan consisting of medical concoc-
tions by means of which, as in alchemy, the achievement of impossiblities is sought.
3 Stra iv. 1: Supernormal Powers Come With Birth Or Are Attained Through Herbs, Incan-
tations, Austerities Or Concentration. All quotations from the Yoga-Stra are taken from
Mukerji, P.N., (1963).

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196 appendix

his option, then he will be delivered to the species whose force he had intensified and
he will become an angel or a devil or a jinni.4
q. 59. The postulant said: by intensifying one of the three forces is he seeking a
reward or incurring a sin, so that, through it, he deserves a bodily incarnation of the
genus he desires?
[Patajali] answered: this [intensification] is not for the purpose of acquiring any-
thing rather it is simply change so that if he intensifies the good [force], he will remove
the evil from his soul and will thus become an angel, and if he intensifies the evil [force],
he will remove the good from his soul and will thus become a devil; just as someone
who irrigates his crop and excess water gathers unintentionally in one part of it and he
proceeds to dig a channel to siphon it off then this is not for the purpose of irrigation,
but is merely to remove the excess [water] from his crop.5
q. 60. The postulant said: if the aforementioned renunciant is able to magnify that
which is small and increase that which is (Ritter, p. 194) scant and transforms his body
into many bodies in order [for them] to assist [each other] in the pursuit of one aim,
would these bodies exist with many hearts [minds] or with one or with none?6 The last
[option] compels them [bodies] to be lifeless corpses; the middle [option] necessitates
activity in one of them, for the heart [mind], firstly, reflects, then, secondly, the body
acts accordingly; and if they [bodies] exist with many hearts [minds] then there would
be contradictory thoughts that would lead to contradictory action.7
[Patajali] answered: each one of them [bodies] has its own exclusive heart [mind]
and none of them possesses anything that the other [does not have] which would make
them different from each other, rather, they are bodies and hearts [minds] that issue
from him. The source, then, is the first [body] and the rest are consequent to it.8
q. 61. The postulant said: which of the five aforementioned ways to achieving the
[condition] of renunciation is the most preferable?
[Patajali] answered: the final, fifth [one] which is the domination and control of
the senses.

4 Stra iv. 2: Of These, The Mutation Of Body And Sense-Organs Into Those Of One Born In A
Different SpeciesTakes Place Through The Filling In Of Their Nature Innate.
5 Stra iv. 3: Causes Do Not Put The Nature Into Motion. Only The Removal Of Obstacles Takes
Place Through Them. This Is Like A Farmer Breaking Down The Barrier To Let The Water
Flow The Hindrances Being Removed By The Causes, The Nature Innate Impenetrates By
Itself.
6 Vysa on Stra iv. 4: When the Yogin constructs many bodies, have they only one mind or
many minds?
7 Stra iv. 4: All Created Minds Are Constructed From Pure ISense Or Ego.
8 Stra iv. 5: One Mind Is The Director Of The Many Created Minds In Respect Of The Variety
Of Their Activities.
translation of section iv of kitb btanjal 197

q. 62. The postulant said: if this [condition] of renunciation covers those who
employ the five ways then what is the purpose in specifying the last of them as
excellent?
[Patajali] answered: because they [who employ the first four ways] are not free
from the commission of reward [the good] or sin or that which lies between them
such that their hearts [minds] are dissolutely divided by recompense for acquisition or
requital, whereas the renunciant empties his heart [mind] in reality. What a difference
[there is] between the one who is free of something and the one who is occupied by
it.9
q. 63. The postulant said:10 if a man acquires that by which requital is necessitated
while in a [bodily] vessel that is not the one in which the acquisition had taken place
then the period of time between the two states would be far in the past and the matter
would have been forgotten.
[Patajali] answered: activity is incumbent on the soul because it is its function
and the body is an instrument for this [function]. There is no forgetfulness in matters

9 Vysa on Stra iv. 6: Constructed minds or minds that have attained perfection or super-
normal powers are of five varieties, viz. obtained by birth, through chemicals, incantations,
austerities and concentration. Of these, the mind obtained through meditation is desire-
less, i.e., has no desires or latencies of attachment. That is why it has no connection with
(worldly) virtue or vice, and that is how Yogins are free from misery.
10 qla l-silu: idh ktasaba l-insnu m yjibu l-mukfaata f qlibin ghayri qlibi l-
iktisbi faqad bauda l-ahdu fm bayna l-layni wa nusiya l-amru? qla l-mujbu: al-
amalu mulzimun lil-ri liannahu kasbuh wal-jasadu latun lah wa l nisyna f l-
ashyi l-nafsniyyati fainnah khrijatun ani l-zamni lladh yaqta l-qurba wal-buda
f l-muddati wal-amalu bimulzamatihi l-ri yajbilu khulqah wa ibah il mithli
l-li llat tantaqilu ilayh fal-nafsu biafih limatun dhlika mutadhakkiratun lahu
ghayru nsiyatin wa innam tagha nruh bikudrati l-badani idh jtamaat maahu
al mithli l-insni l-mutadhakkiri shayan arafahu thumma nasiyahu bijunnin abahu
aw illatin tarathu aw sukrin rna al qalbihi (Hind, p. 42, l. 16). The postulant said: if a
man acquires that which necessitates requital while in a [bodily] vessel that is not the one
in which the acquisition had taken place then the period of time between the two states
would be far in the past and the matter would have been forgotten. [Patajali] answered:
activity is incumbent on the spirit because it [activity] is its [spirit] acquisition and the
body is its instrument. There is no forgetfulness in matters relating to the soul for it [soul]
lies outside time that [time] determines what is recent and distant in duration. Activity,
being incumbent on the spirit, moulds its nature and innate disposition so as to resemble
that state to which it is being translated, for the soul in its purity knows this, recognises it
and does not forget it. However, its light is covered by the bodys turbidity when it com-
bines with it just as an individual who recollects something he knew proceeds to forget
it as a result of a madness that strikes him or an illness that befalls him or a drunkenness
that overcomes his heart [mind].
198 appendix

relating to the soul for it [soul] lies outside time and [time] determines what is recent
and distant in duration. This activity, being incumbent on the soul, transforms its
nature and innate disposition so as to resemble that state to which it is being translated,
for the soul in its purity knows by means of this, recognises it and does not forget
it.11 However, the bodys turbidity covers its light when it combines with it (just as
an individual who recollects something he knew proceeds to forget it as a result of a
madness that strikes him or an illness that befalls him or a drunkenness that overcomes
his heart [mind]).12

(Ritter, p. 195)

q. 64. The postulant said: if the evil-doer is transported and acquires through the
process that which compounds the evil [act], then does this [process] have a defined
limit that necessitates cessation or not?
[Patajali] answered: the limit is unknown to us even if it exists. However, we
witness juveniles13 and children who are pleased when long life is supplicated for
them and who are saddened when a hasty end is invoked against them. What meaning
would this have either for them or against them,14 were it not that they had tasted the
sweetness of life and known the bitterness of death in past cycles in which they had
been reborn on account of various reasons for requital.15
q. 65. The postulant said: if a beginning is not known for this [process] and [the
individual] is moved constantly between acquisition and reward, and then this activity

11 Stra iv. 9: On Account Of Similarity Between Memory And Corresponding Latent Im-
pressions, The Subconscious Impressions Of Feelings Appear Simultaneously Even When
They Are Separated By Birth, Space And Time.
12 The analogy in brackets is added by Ritter from the parallel passage found in Hind, p. 43,
l. 4.
13 am tar l-ibyna wal-adtha yartna lildui lahum bili l-baqi wa yazanna
lildui alayhim bijili l-fani wa mdh lahum wa alayhim fhim lawl annahum dhq
alwata l-ayti wa arif marrata l-wafti f maw l-adwri llat tansakh fh
liwujdi l-mukfaati (Hind, p. 43, l. 5). Do you not see [how] juveniles and children are
pleased when long life is supplicated upon them and are saddened when a hasty end is
invoked against them? What meaning would this have for them and against them, were
it not that they had tasted the sweetness of life and known the bitterness of death in past
cycles in which they had been reborn due to the existence of requital?
14 Ritter has replaced the original lahum, for them, with lahum wa alayhim, for them and
against them, from the parallel passage found in Hind, p. 43, l. 7.
15 Vysa on Stra iv. 10: In their opinion this explains how there may be a middle state or
how the mind gives up one body, takes up another and fills up the gap between them
(between death and rebirth), it also explains Samsra and the cycle of births.
translation of section iv of kitb btanjal 199

in the [bodily] vessels becomes natural for him such that, furthermore, an end to it [this
activity] is not known: this leads to a fundamental cessation of his achieving liberation.
[Patajali] answered: were it not that this activity has a cause that produces and
induces it then the matter would have been as you pictured it. However, you know
necessarily that it [activity] has causes that drive it such that if the causes are removed,
the activity will also be removed along with them and it [activity] will reach its end
and conclusion, and the path to seeking liberation will become easy.16 Since the heart
[mind] is inconstant in its recollection of the end, preoccupied with what has been
prepared for it by way of requital, whose contentment it desires on one occasion and
whose affliction it dreads on another, and requital is nullified through the removal of
what necessitates reward or sin; then, pray tell what the heart [mind] attaches itself
to at that time, if it does not do so through desire or dread since it is only a lack of
occupation that enables it to seek liberation. As long as both these [desire/dread] are
present and not removed then the matter revolves in the domain of acquisition within
the [bodily] vessels in a contiguous and connected manner, even if [the individual]
does not remain in one state or similar states but both types, good and evil, are
transformed the one into the other by exchange or by interpenetration. Sometimes,
man is rewarded with benevolence and being tossed about in them [bodily vessels]
compels him to commit an offence, and harming another necessitates sin. Similarly,
when he is punished for wickedness and there emerge from him [when] in them
[bodily vessels] some sentiments of mercy or benevolence that necessitate reward. If
they [good/evil] are not both nullified simultaneously there will not be cessation nor
will the cycle be broken. However, the afore-mentioned renunciant has nullified the
matter of both for the future and they in themselves have regressed to the past so that
they are annihilated or are nearly so and it is because of this that he has achieved what
was demanded.

(Ritter, p. 196)

q. 66. The postulant said: if both [good/evil] are annihilated in his past and in his future
and liberation then how is an effect produced from two nothings?
[Patajali] answered: their annihilation is not absolute rather it is a movement into
potentiality or an existence in potentia in two periods of time that are such and such
so that they have no actual effect on the actually existent present, just as [when] what
is white becomes yellow, and then the yellow becomes black, yet the white and the

16 Stra iv. 11: On Account Of Being Held Together By Cause, Result, Substratum And Sup-
porting Object, Vsan [latent impression of feeling created by an experience] Disappears
When They Are Absent.
200 appendix

black in the state of yellowness are not absolutely annihilated otherwise their existence
would have changed.17 However, that which is to come stands in relation to them both
[black/white] in potentiality so that even if it [their existence] is too subtle to be felt
by the senses it is not too subtle to be perceived by the intellect. Furthermore, both are
formed by the three primary forces18 the proof of which is that when the past was the
present it was not devoid of requital [the cause of which was those forces] just as the
future, when it becomes present, will not be free of them [the forces]. Both [present
and past], therefore, have a result19 [in reality], for otherwise they would not have an
effect on existence.
q. 67. The postulant said: if the three primary forces mutate and differ is it then
possible for them to come together in a [state of] unification?
[Patajali] answered: why should this not be the case when the function of the oil,
the wick and the fire differ from each other [yet] when their effects are combined and
their actions are in unison the lamp, because of them, [burns] with a single illumina-
tion. For this reason when the heart [mind] is purified and the soul is disciplined so
that they exist together then the intellected, the intellect, and the intellector become
one and they all become an intellector.20
q. 68. The postulant said: what is the meaning of the intellected when the intellect
intellects and unites with what it has intellected, for this can only lead to the conclusion
that nothing other than the intellect exists?21
[Patajali] answered: just as you establish nothing other than the intellect so we
establish nothing other than the intellector. Ultimately there is no difference of mean-
ing between us. Rather, the difference lies in expression. The meaning of unification,
as it stands, transpires within a single given; just as the wife of a man is endowed by
[her] spouse with the form of love, and he calls her (Ritter, p. 197) beloved, whereas
he endows her after a beating with the form of enmity, due to his excessive jealousy,

17 Stra iv. 12: The Past And The Future Are In Reality Present In Their Fundamental Forms,
There Being Only Difference In The Characteristics Of The Forms Taken At Different
Times.
18 Vysa on Stra iv. 13: Of the three-phased characteristics, the manifest state is called
the present. In the past and the future states they are in six unspecialised subtle forms.
These phenomenal forms and their properties are but special dispositions of the Gunas,
as primarily they are nothing but Gunas.
19 Reading the corrupt word athyn as atharayn as suggested by Ritter.
20 Stra iv. 14: On Account Of The Co-Ordinated Mutation Of The Three Gunas, Objects
Appear As One.
21 Vysa on Stra iv. 15: There may be a common object that is the focus of many minds; it
is not figured by one mind, nor by many minds, but is grounded in itself. How does this
happen?
translation of section iv of kitb btanjal 201

and calls her loathsome,22 while some of them [wives] are [endowed] with the form
of equality in marriage thus he [the spouse] would call her partner, and similar exam-
ples in which the meaning coincides and the name differs. For when intellect alone
exists, it is a necessary consequence that knowledge and gnosis alone perpetuate. Yet
we observe that known things may often become unknown, from which we can deduce
that the difference between these two states is brought about by an intellector who
intellects by means of an instrument belonging to it, namely the intellect. It [intellect]
cognises that [thing] when it is present and it becomes unknown to it when it dis-
appears. It cognises that thing then another [thing] presents itself to it which is then
cognised and the cognition of the two things subject to corruption is itself subject to
corruption and there is a separation between them.23 If there was nothing other than
the intellect then gnosis could only be one and of all things perpetually. However, the
intellect with regard to the intellector is like a gem concerning the relationship between
sight and what is seen; when a light is shone on it, it conveys the colours and forms of
what is seen to the seer.24
q. 69. The postulant said: is the intellect like a lamp in that when it comes to making
its self manifest it requires nothing other than itself?
[Patajali] answered: as the lamp is for someone who seeks light, so the intellect is
for an intellector.25
q. 70. The postulant said: does the intellect perceive itself and for itself so that it,
therefore, has no need for anything other than itself?
[Patajali] answered: on the contrary, its perception is not of itself since that which
is collected does not collect itself, rather, something other than it collects it. The
intellect only perceives after a stimulus to perception and it only perceives something
that is intellected.26 Thus, the imprint of something other than itself and some form

22 Reading Ritters baghih as bagha, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 197, l. 1).


23 Vysa on Stra iv. 16: If an object were dependent on one mind, then what will happen to
it when that mind is inattentive or closed and does not concern itself with the nature of
the object? Because then it will not be the object of any other mind nor will it be noticed
by any other mind. If it again comes into touch with the mind (from which it was said to
be born) wherefrom will it come? On this line of argument there cannot be any unknown
part (by a particular perceiver) of an object If therefore there is no unknown part, the
known part and the perception thereof also become unrealities. That is why it must be
admitted that an object has distinct entity common to all, and minds are also distinct and
peculiar to each individual.
24 Stra iv. 17: External Objects Are Known Or Unknown To The Mind According As They
Colour The Mind.
25 Stra iv. 18: On Account Of The Immutability Of Purua Who Is Lord Of The Mind, The
Modifications Of The Mind Are Always Known Or Manifest.
26 Stra iv. 19: It (Mind) Is Not Self-Illuminating Being An Object (Knowable).
202 appendix

of collection takes place within it. The intellector differs from this for it is unification
rather than collection that takes place within him thus your view is nullified and what
we said is correct.
q. 71. The postulant said: what is the fruit of subtle knowledge?
[Patajali] answered: its fruit is the extinction of desire and the desired.27
q. 72. The postulant said: what is the benefit from the extinction of this desire?
[Patajali] answered:28 [it is attaining] the middle path towards knowledge that
douses desire and realises the [state of] unity for the one, the truth.29

(Ritter, p. 198)

q. 73. The postulant said: does there remain in him who reaches this sublime level
remnants of worldly filth or is he purified from the stain of ignorance?
[Patajali] answered: ignorance with regard to man whilst in the world is as it were
the natural state and knowledge is extraneous and foreign to him. Thus remnants of
that which is innate and customary are inevitable during the onset of that which is
uncustomary.30
q. 74. The postulant said: how is he smelted so as to be completely purified of them?
[Patajali] answered: by means of habituation, meditational praxis, and physi-
cal exercise, the manner of which has already been mentioned. When he gradually
becomes habituated to the necessary then that which is habitual becomes as it were
natural, it contends with nature at that time and it overcomes nature, and the habitual
becomes purified of those remnants. On reaching this level he becomes removed from
the motives of both recompense and sin so that he becomes cleansed of impurities, and
knowledge becomes established to such a measure that it cannot be increased by the
abundance of known things and it is impossible for them to become distant or simple,
for these are then annihilated through the unification of the three afore-mentioned
[forces].31

27 Stra iv. 26: (Then) The Mind Inclines Towards Discriminative Knowledge And Naturally
Gravitates Towards The State Of Isolation.
28 Vysa on Stra iv. 26: While engaged in acquiring knowledge of the special distinction,
the mind of the devotee, that used to be occupied with the experience of objects of senses
and was roaming in paths of ignorance, takes a different turn. Then it directs itself towards
isolation and moves in the path of discriminative knowledge.
29 It is impossible not to read this passage in Kitb Btanjal as referring to God.
30 Stra iv. 27: Through Its Breaches (i.e., Breaks In Discriminative Knowledge) Arise Other
Thoughts Involving Fluctuations Due To Residual Subliminal Impressions.
31 Stra iv. 28: It Has Been Said That Their Removal (i.e., Of Indiscriminative Impressions)
Follows The Same Process As The Removal Of Afflictions. Vysa on Stra iv. 28: As seeds
translation of section iv of kitb btanjal 203

q. 75. The postulant said: what would be the state of the three primary forces at that
time?
[Patajali] answered: the activity of these forces is connected with time and dura-
tion, and that happiness that occurs in the one who is truly happy is in lieu of32 time
and duration, and [thus] he transcends the three forces and has no need of them.33
q. 76. The postulant said: what is the measure of the actions duration?
[Patajali] answered: it is ksh which is a quarter of the blink of an eye.
q. 77. The postulant said: how can the actions requirement for duration be known?
[Patajali] answered: [it is known] from when that which is coloured white pro-
gresses towards yellowness, for the transition between them [the two colours] requires
this measure.34
q. 78. The postulant said: how is liberation [brought about]?35
[Patajali] answered: you can say that it [liberation] is the suspension of the three
principle forces from their activity and their return to the source from which they had
come. Or you can just as well say that it is the return of the soul [in a state of knowing]36
to its nature.37

(of affliction) when in a roasted state do not germinate, so previous latent impressions,
when reduced to a roasted state in the fire of knowledge do not produce any modification,
i.e., they do not emerge into a state of knowledge. The latent impression of knowledge,
however, wait for the termination of the function of the mind (i.e., they automatically die
out when the mind ceases to act), and no special effort is necessary therefore.
32 Reading the Arabic word bdl, (Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, l. 13), which according to Ritter is
unclear (Kitb Btanjal, p. 198, footnote 4), as badalun, instead of or in lieu of.
33 Stra iv. 32: From That (Cloud Pouring Virtue) The Gunas Having Fulfilled Their Purpose,
The Sequence Of Their Mutation Ceases.
34 Vysa on Stra iv. 33: Sequence is of the nature of incessant flow of moments and is
conceived only when a change becomes noticeable. The oldness of a new piece of cloth is
known when the change does not remain unfelt.
35 lidhlika saala l-silu f khtimati kitbi Btanjal an kayfiyyati l-khali? faqla l-mujbu:
in shita faqul huwa taaulu l-quw l-thalthi wa-awduh il l-madani lladh adarat
anhu, wa in shita faqul huwa ruju l-nafsi limatan il ibih (Hind, p. 61, l. 16). For
this reason the postulant asked at the conclusion of Kitb Btanjal about how liberation
is brought about. [Patajali] answered: you can say that it [liberation] is the suspension
of the three forces and their return to the source from which they had issued. Or you can
just as well say that it is the return of the soul in a state of knowing to its nature.
36 Reading limatan as introduced by Ritter from the parallel passage to be found in Hind,
p. 61, l. 19.
37 Stra iv. 34: Isolation Is The Complete Disappearance Of The Gunas Which Have Ceased
To Be Objectives (By Providing Experience Or Liberation Of Purua), In Other Words, It
Is Supreme Consciousness Established In Its Own Self. Vysa on Stra iv. 34: In other
words, when the supreme Consciousness is established in His own self, i.e., the absolute
204 appendix

(Ritter, p. 199)

This concludes the fourth section on the subject of liberation and unification and with
it the book comes to an end consisting in its entirety of one thousand one hundred
points in verse.
Ab Rayn said: this was the book of Btanjal and that which called for its transla-
tion is the absence of the Indians beliefs concerning their religious paths among those
who discuss them in books such that, were their content to be used for disputation
with opponents no shared point of reference would remain amongst the disputants
given that the starting point of their [the disputants] examination is disapproval and
disbelief. He who does not recognise evil cannot avoid it just as he who does not recog-
nise the good cannot procure it, and for this reason it is said: learn magic but do not
use it. As for what the book contains in terms of impossibilities, it is on account of two
matters:
The first of which is that you rarely find a community adhering to the basic beliefs
we mentioned of incarnation and unification, and in the developed form to an excess
in ascetic practice, without them mentioning something that is rationally impossible. I
pass over that group which turns miracles [worked by] saints out of examples similar to
those previously mentioned, and another group that, in its opposition to them, mag-
nifies them [impossibilities] and depicts them as challenges to the miracles [worked
by] the prophets, may Gods prayers be upon them. I refer back to the Christians whose
characterisation is as we have indicated. Their excess in ascetic practice and withdrawal
from the world, witnessed in their anchorites who refrain from [public] exposure due
to their being engaged with their souls and their [souls] purgation to such an extent
that the humours are eliminated from their bodies and no flesh remains between the
skin and bone. It is possible that one of them [can] die upright in worship and remain
propped up against the wall whilst leaning on a staff for generations and ages as a result
of the absence of weighty matter within him and the lack of rottenness and that which
is prone38 to it [rottenness] in his body. [The dust is frequently removed from him, he
becomes known through mention39 (of his condition) and through pilgrimage from all
regions]40 until dryness accomplishes that which moisture was unable to do by stiff-
ening his limbs and decaying his bones at which point he is annihilated. With regard to

consciousness is unrelated to or unconcerned with the intellect, and remains all alone for
all time, it is known as the state of Kaivalya [perfect isolation, final emancipation].
38 Ritter does not attempt a reading of the word -q-lha (Kitb Btanjal, p. 199, l. 16), however,
one possibility is to read it as taqbiluh which would mean, in the context, a proneness to
rotting.
39 Reading bil-dhikr (Kitb Btanjal, p. 199, l. 17).
40 The meaning of the passage in square brackets is unclear because of textual corruption.
translation of section iv of kitb btanjal 205

their impossible accounts, you will hear about miracles when they mention the ancient
fathers, the bishops and patriarchs of the past and those martyred because of the faith
and [about] the growth of their hair and nails when dead so as to require cutting and
clipping and that at which astonishment on the part of others does not cease.
As for the other [second matter] it is that the Indians maintain the greatest share of
this [the rationally impossible] and are the least in terms of [critical] examination and
scientific study, to such an extent that I can only compare their books on mathematical
astronomy from the aspect of concepts, logical order, and arrangement to pearls mixed
with dung and gems [mixed] with earthenware. They are not guided to distinguishing
good astronomical ideas nor do they delegate [others] to refine and improve them.41
This [matter] is augmented by their practice of segregating themselves from others
and refraining from associating with them, and were it not for this they would have
improved themselves as a result of the objections of opponents and the refutation of
what they maintain. The only debates that they hold are with the Buddhists who live
amongst them, who are similar to them and who are no better. God permitting, I will
compose a book giving an account of their religious laws, explicating their beliefs and
giving an indication of their terminology and narratives as well as some features of
their land and cities. It will be an apparatus for the one who aims to participate and
converse with them, if God provides ample time and removes the obstacles of illnesses
and ailments.
This is the conclusion of the book of Btanjal and God is the Highest and Most
Sublime with His pre-eternal grace and succour. Have mercy, O Lord, for You are
Merciful, Compassionate.

41 l ushabbihu m f kutubihim mina l-isbi wa nawi l-talmi ill biadafin makhlin


bikhazafin aw bidurrin mamzjin bibarin aw bimahan maqbin biaan wal-jinsn in-
dahum siyyni (Hind, p. 19, l. 7). I can only compare the content of their books on math-
ematics and astronomical literature to [pearl] shells mixed with earthenware or to pearls
mixed with dung or to crystals gathered with pebbles. Both types are equal in their esti-
mation.
Glossary of Terms

This glossary is not intended to represent term for term al-Brns translation of the
Sanskrit texts under consideration, but merely to be a general indicator of parallel
concepts in the Arabic and Sanskrit languages.

Arabic English Sanskrit English

al-adwt1 enmities dvea aversion2


al-lim3 knower
al-aql4 intellect buddhi intellect
al-athql5 afflictions/burdens klea affliction
al-burhn6 decisive proof
al-dall/al-istidll7 deduction/inference
al-dht8/al-nafs9 self/soul tman inner self
al-ibda10 worship bhakti devotion
al-ilm11 knowledge jna knowledge
al-istiqrr12 firm of foundation samdhi concentration
itbu l-badani13 wearying the body tapas austerity

1 Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 1 & 19.


2 Translation of the Sanskrit terms is with reference to, Grimes, J., A Concise Dictionary of
Indian Philosophy. New York, 1996.
3 Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11; p. 180, l. 11, 16; p. 181, l. 9, 10, 12, 14, 23.
4 Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11; p. 178, l. 14; p. 184, l. 4; p. 196, l. 7, 14, 16, 17; p. 197, l. 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11,
12, 14.
5 Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 20.
6 Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 2; Hind, p. 184, l. 17; Qnn, p. 5, l. 6.
7 Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 1.
8 Kitb Btanjal, p. 188, l. 21.
9 Kitb Btanjal, p. 170, l. 3, 5, 8; p. 171, l. 14, 16; p. 175, l. 7, 9; p. 177, l. 19; p. 180, l. 1, 5; p. 182, l. 1;
p. 188, l. 20; p. 189, l. 10; p. 192, l. 19, 21; p. 194, l. 16, 18, 19; p. 196, l. 14; p. 197, l. 10, 12; p. 198, l. 21;
Hind, p. 2, l. 4; p. 6, l. 2; p. 21, l. 15; p. 22, l. 14, 17; p. 23, l. 5; p. 30; p. 43, l. 13, 18.
10 Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9; p. 193, l. 3, 8.
11 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 2, 9; p. 170, l. 1, 4; p. 174, l. 8; p. 176, l. 11; p. 184, l. 8; p. 188, l. 19; p. 191,
l. 12, 14, 15, 17; p. 197, l. 3; p. 198, l. 3, 9; Hind, p. 20, l. 13, 17; p. 21, l. 2, 9, 10; p. 22, l. 9; p. 51, l. 18;
Qnn, p. 3, l. 2, 16, 17.
12 Kitb Btanjal, p. 171, l. 19; p. 177, l. 10 (iqrr l-qalb).
13 Kitb Btanjal, p. 177, l. 14.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2016 | doi: 10.1163/9789004305540_011


glossary of terms 207

Arabic English Sanskrit English

al-ittid 14 unification yoga union


al-iyn15 observation
al-jahl16 ignorance avidy ignorance
al-khabar17 transmitted knowledge
al-khal18 liberation moka liberation
al-masst/al-malmt19 sensibilia
al-malm20 known
al-maqlt21 intelligibilia
al-marifa22 general knowledge
al-murd/al-sil23 disciple/postulant iya disciple
al-murshid teacher guru teacher
al-nafs soul purua spirit
al-qalb24 heart/mind
al-qlib25/al-badan26 mould/body prakrti
al-raghba27 desire rga attachment

14 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 15; p. 176, l. 11 (ittaada); p. 184, l. 1 (tattaid); p. 188, l. 19 (muttaad);
p. 192, l. 21; p. 196, l. 11; p. 197, l. 16; p. 199, l. 1; Hind, p. 6, l. 1; p. 66, l. 16.
15 thr, p. 2, l. 9, 16; Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 21; p. 169, l. 1, 12; Hind, p. 1, l. 1, 3; p. 184; Qnn,
p. 5, l. 8.
16 Kitb Btanjal, p. 174, l. 8; p. 175, l. 14; p. 178, l. 1; p. 179, l. 20, 21; p. 180, l. 18; p. 181, l. 5, 14; p. 198,
l. 3; Hind, p. 2, l. 10; p. 20, l. 13, 17.
17 thr, p. 3, l. 3; Hind, p. 1, l. 1, 3, 4; p. 21, l. 13; p. 21, l. 13; p. 102; p. 184.
18 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 2; p. 169, l. 3, 13; p. 172, l. 4, 6; p. 173, l. 8; p. 179, l. 20; p. 180, l. 16
( yatakhalla); p. 181, l. 12, 16, 22; p. 191, l. 15, 17; p. 198, l. 19; p. 199, l. 1; Hind, p. 22, l. 3; p. 40,
l. 18; p. 51, l. 18; p. 62, l. 9, 14.
19 Kitb Btanjal, p. 176, l. 11; p. 180, l. 16; p. 181, l. 20.
20 Kitb Btanjal, p. 169, l. 1; p. 181, l. 1, 6, 9, 12, 14, 19.
21 Kitb Btanjal, p. 181, l. 20.
22 thr, p. 2, l. 13; Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9; p. 181, l. 2, 3; p. 191, l. 15; p. 197, l. 3, 6, 7; Hind, p. 22,
l. 5; p. 183, l. 13.
23 Kitb Btanjal, p. 170, l. 5.
24 Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 1, 4; p. 173, l. 10; p. 177, l. 10, 19, 21; p. 183, l. 14, 20; p. 188, l. 19, 20; p. 192,
l. 20; p. 194, l. 2, 5; p. 196, l. 14; Hind, p. 40, l. 13, 17; p. 33, l. 12.
25 Kitb Btanjal, p. 179, l. 15; p. 183, l. 1; p. 194, l. 14, 15; Hind, p. 40, l. 1517; p. 62, l. 14.
26 Kitb Btanjal, p. 173, l. 9; p. 175, l. 19; p. 177, l. 14; p. 182, l. 2; p. 189, l. 11; p. 194, l. 1; Hind, p. 3,
l. 2; p. 6, l. 3.
27 Kitb Btanjal, p. 178, l. 1, 16.
208 glossary of terms

(cont.)

Arabic English Sanskrit English

al-shar28 explanation/ commentary


alabu l-ilmi29 seeking of knowledge jna-yoga path of wisdom
al-tansukh30 reincarnation
al-taraddud 31 metempsychosis/ rebirth
al-tawd 32 habituated action abhysa constant practice
thamn khil33 eight limbs anga-yoga eight-limbed yoga
al-zuhdu l-fikr 34 intellectual ascesis vairgya dispassion

28 Kitb Btanjal, p. 168, l. 5.


29 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 9; p. 170, l. 1, 4; p. 174, l. 8; p. 176, l. 11; p. 184, l. 8; p. 188, l. 19; p. 191,
l. 12, 14, 15, 17; p. 197, l. 3; p. 198, l. 3, 9; Hind, p. 20, l. 13, 17; p. 21, l. 2, 9, 10; p. 22, l. 9; p. 51, l. 18;
Qnn, p. 3, l. 2, 16, 17.
30 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 15; Hind, p. 38, l. 5.
31 Kitb Btanjal, p. 167, l. 19; p. 180, l. 7; Hind, p. 23, l. 3.
32 Kitb Btanjal, p. 171, l. 15; p. 173, l. 8; p. 175, l. 8; p. 198, l. 6.
33 Kitb Btanjal, p. 182, l. 8.
34 Kitb Btanjal, p. 172, l. 1.
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Index of Subjects

abhysa (constant practice) 9697 China 8, 18, 29


adwt (enmities) 110
lim (knower) 89, 109, 111116, 119, 121, dall / istidll (deduction/inference) 89
127128 91
Al-Brn dht (self/soul) 100, 122, 163, 165
on Aristotle 11, 2425, 32 dvea (aversion) 107
on astronomy 4, 910, 12, 18, 21, 35, 37,
205 evil 46, 8687, 101, 111, 114, 116, 154, 183, 185,
Court astrologer 4, 23 196, 198, 199, 204
on dating systems 1516
on ethics 2627, 29, 116117 falsifa 12
on geography 18
heretic? 7, 50, 77, 192 Ghazna 4, 9, 18, 38
on kingship 1920 Ghaznavid Empire 5, 910, 1213, 18, 20, 23
on his sources 30, 3637, 49, 5657, 76 gnosis 33, 143, 201
on mineralogy 10, 36 guru (teacher) 57, 80, 9496, 190
on natural philosophy 11
nisba 8 adth 8, 16, 28
on pharmacology 10 aqq (Truth) 13, 23, 2526, 30, 70, 77, 94, 98,
patrons of 3, 813, 1518, 2021, 23, 193
2628 Hinduism
rivalry with Ibn Sn 3, 9, 1114, 21, 2325, European definitions of 3
32, 77, 81 Dietary rules 4
and Sunnism 19 Doctrine of God 4148, 5152, 5963
and Shiism 19 Doctrine of creation 46, 51, 70, 150
aql (intellect) 2425, 101, 125, 127, 129, 143, Doctrine of the soul 7475, 79, 81, 83, 86,
145147 94, 97, 99, 103, 110111, 115, 123, 151, 191,
ascesis 5, 39, 63, 75, 85, 87, 96, 97, 100101, 192
112, 116, 183 Fasting 4, 105, 117, 156
anga-yoga (eight-limbed yoga) 31, 83, Festivals 4
181 Funerary ceremonies 4
athql (afflictions/burdens) 107, 109111 Initiation 4, 95
tman (soul/self) 6970, 72, 100 Pilgrimage 4, 39, 204
Atomism 32, 33 Salvation 4, 40, 58, 61, 79, 82, 96, 131, 132
avidy (ignorance) 107109, 113, 127, 131, 135, Sacrifices 4, 6970
137 worship 43, 52, 5455, 63, 66, 155156,
awliy 19 195, 204

Baghdad 18, 20, 3435 ibda (worship) 43, 52, 54, 66, 96, 98,
bhakti (devotion) 96, 102103, 105106 102106, 117, 122, 156
bhakti-yoga 96, 105106 ilm (knowledge) 21, 34, 4547, 5051, 60,
buddhi (intellect) 55, 66, 98, 100, 109, 115, 121, 64, 76, 7879, 90, 112113, 119, 122, 127,
127128, 132133, 136, 172 136137, 139, 143, 157, 159, 181183
Buddhism 29, 80 India 12, 4, 8, 10, 18, 23, 2730, 3336, 39, 55,
Bukhara 1112 57, 73, 190
burhn (decisive proof) 22, 88, 9093, 95 Indian cosmology 4, 1011, 34, 36, 192
222 index of subjects

Indian medicine 4, 35 moka (liberation) 75, 78, 154155


Indian science 4, 1011, 31, 34, 36, 43, 44 muminn 19
Indian philosophy 10, 31, 33, 35, 50, 66, murd (disciple/postulant) 94
78, 80, 150, 189 murshid (teacher) 17, 94
Indian religion 12, 57, 29, 59, 150, 152,
188, 191, 204 nafs (soul) 56, 71, 7375, 81, 93, 96, 98, 101,
Languages 4, 23 113, 121122, 125, 151, 163
istiqrr (firm of foundation) 9798, 100 naql (tradition) 24
itbu l-badani (wearying the body) 105 New Testament 26
ittid (unification) 33, 7374, 8586, 94,
9697, 111112, 119120, 122, 125, 129130, Peripatetic School 11, 80
142, 157, 183 prakrti (matter) 39, 46, 5556, 6769, 71,
iyn (observation) 16, 22, 2425, 30, 84, 8182, 86, 93, 109, 121123, 135, 138140,
8891, 93, 9596 166, 169
purua (spirit) 39, 46, 55, 6669, 71, 75,
jahl (ignorance) 26, 4546, 92, 99, 106107, 8182, 86, 93, 96, 98, 101102, 109, 113,
109113, 137, 157 121122, 127128, 130, 132133, 135136,
jna (knowledge) 95, 106, 122, 165 138, 149, 163, 165166, 169, 172, 201,
jna-yoga (path of wisdom) 76, 78, 96, 203
105106
Jurjn 9, 1213 qalb (heart/mind) 73, 85, 87, 96, 98, 101107,
Jurjniyya 9 113, 118, 120, 133, 135, 142, 156, 197
qlib (mould/body) 7071, 87, 93, 109, 117,
kalm 8, 32, 4749, 75, 193 122123, 134, 151, 153, 156, 180, 183, 197
karma 6971, 122, 183, 185, 187
karma-yoga 96, 106 rga (attachment) 107, 110
Kth 7, 8 raghba (desire) 107, 110
khabar (transmitted knowledge) 2122, reincarnation 6, 69, 85, 87, 99, 155, 191
2426, 52, 65, 84, 9091
khal (liberation) 7071, 73, 75, 7879, sil (disciple/postulant) 43, 45, 47, 50, 52,
8587, 93, 9597, 101102, 106, 109, 112, 56, 88, 9697, 103, 107, 117, 129132, 134,
114, 120, 122, 126128, 131133, 137, 139, 135, 137, 139, 142144, 157, 160, 172, 182,
150, 152153, 156159, 160, 163, 167183, 187, 197, 203
203 samdhi (concentration) 40, 98, 101, 107, 116,
Khwrazm 79 119, 136, 138
klea (affliction) 107110 Samkhya philosophy 31, 3940, 6672, 76,
8283, 86, 93, 97, 102, 107, 112, 116, 121,
masst (sensibilia) 16, 60, 64, 89, 92, 159 127, 135, 140142, 158, 166170, 193
malm (known) 93, 114115, 127128 Shams al-Mal 9, 1217, 19
malmt (sensibilia) 89, 92, 109, 111114, 119, shar (explanation/commentary) 8992
127128, 137, 139, 143, 181 iya (disciple) 80
maqla 23 Sufis 7, 15, 36, 94, 150, 154155, 186, 187,
maqlt (intelligibilia) 16, 79, 89, 92, 127, 192194
159
marifa (knowledge) 8990, 103106, 114115, abaristn 9, 1213, 37
139, 143, 154 taqq (verification) 2223, 29, 42, 63
Metempsychosis 24, 67, 33, 87, 124, 150, alabu l-ilmi (seeking of knowledge) 78
152153, 182, 184, 187188, 191192 tansukh (reincarnation) 2, 86, 87, 152
in Muslim writings 7, 192 tapas (austerity) 105
index of subjects 223

taraddud (metempsychosis/rebirth) 87, 111, path of action see karma-yoga


120, 152 path of devotion see bhakti-yoga
tawd (habituated action) 52, 54, 9698, path of eight limbs see anga-yoga
100, 102103, 137 path of knowledge see jna-yoga
thamn khil (eight limbs) 115, 181 psychology of 13
Transmigration of souls 2 sacred syllable Om 47
Transoxania 78, 29 Samkhya, differences with 3940, 8283,
102, 169170
vairgya (dispassion) 96, 100101 school of 80, 106
spiritual initiation 95
yoga (union) systemisation of 80
body projection 108
etymology of 73 zj (astronomical tables) 18
guru/disciple relationship 9495 Ziyrid dynasty 9, 1213, 16
history of 3940 zuhdu l-fikr (intellectual ascesis) 96,
liberation through 71, 86, 93, 121122, 170, 100102
184
Index of Modern Authors

ge, K.S. 93, 102, 107 Larson, G. 39


Akasoy, A. 94 Lawrence, B.B. 5, 7475
al-Ahwn, A.F. 83 Leaman, O. 2425
Lester, R.C. 106
Barani, S.H. 3, 10, 12
Barbier de Meynard, C.A. 34 Madkur, E. 79
Blumenthal, H. 150 Massignon, L. 73, 161, 193
Boilot, D.J. 7, 38 Mohaghegh, M. 3, 9
Bosworth, C.E. 7 Montgomery, J. 24, 41
Bulgakov, P.G. 9 Mukerji, P.N. 40, 46, 88, 103, 107108, 114, 126,
195
Chapple, C.K. 140
Nasr, S.H. 3, 9
Daiber, H. 94
Dasgupta, S. 80 Pavet de Courteille, B.M.M. 34
Dodge, B. 3435 Pines, S. 1, 33, 36, 46, 85, 103104, 106, 115,
121123, 151, 153, 161167, 181183
Edgerton, F. 6061
Rahman, F. 75, 79, 81, 83
Feuerstein, G. 88, 96, 108, 110 Ritter, H. 1, 73, 78, 85, 99, 103, 110, 141, 161164,
Flood, G. 40, 96 167, 195196, 198204
Flugel, G. 34 Rosenthal, F. 5, 50, 74, 78, 89
Roy Choudhury, M.L. 3435
Gardet, L. 91
Gelblum, T. 1, 33, 46, 85, 103104, 106, 115, Sachau, E. 13, 8, 10, 27, 3031, 37, 5659, 61,
121123, 151, 153, 161167, 172, 181182 64, 7172, 76, 161162, 165, 167, 171173,
Goichon, A. 23, 2527, 29, 47, 79, 8990, 97, 177, 189
101, 109 Said, H.M. 10
Grimes, J. 206 stri, K.S. 72
Sharma, A. 5961, 64
Hava, J.G. 161, 182
Hill, D.P. 61 Whicher, I. 39, 55, 58, 67, 69, 74, 8183, 86,
92, 95, 102, 105, 107109, 116, 119, 127, 130,
Kelly, E.P. 140 132, 133, 135, 138, 140
Kraus, P. 4
Krenkow, F. 10 Zaehner, R.C. 36, 193
Index of Names

Abal 35 Ibrhm b. abb al-Fazr 34


Ab Al al-usayn Ibn Sn (Avicenna) 3, vara Krina (varakrna) 31, 71, 166
79, 1114, 21, 2325, 32, 75, 77, 7981, 83,
8991, 97, 101, 109, 113, 125126, 146147, Ji 34
192
Ab Bakr al-Rz 77 Kapila 38, 58, 166
Ab Bakr al-Shibl 36, 94, 193 Khn Jain 35
Ab l-Abbs al-rnshahr 2930, 37 Kind 36
Ab l-Abbs al-Mamn b. Mamn 9
Ab l-asan Al 9 Mank 35
Ab Manr Muammad al-Mturd 8 Manr ii b. N ii (Smnid Emir) 11
Ab Muammad Allah 35 Mashtar (Bihaspati) 90
Ab Nar Manr b. Al b. Irq 8 Masd 34
Ab Nar Muammad al-Frb 8, 90, 113, Miskawayh 30
147 Muammad (Prophet) 1315, 1920
Ab Sahl al-Tifls 30, 34 Muammad b. Isq al-Nadm (Ibn al-Nadm)
Ab Sulaymn al-Sijistn 30 28, 3435, 90
Ab Yaqb al-Sijistn 14, 30 Muammad b. Isml al-Bukhr 8
Ab Yazd al-Bistm 36, 94, 193 Muammad b. Msa al-Khwrazm 8
Aud al-Dawla (Byid ruler) 12 Muqanna 77
Alexander (the Great) 33
Al b. Zain 3637 Patajali 12, 56, 31, 33, 3748, 50, 52,
Aristotle 8, 11, 2425, 32, 90, 113, 147 54, 56, 58, 62, 66, 7376, 8083, 86,
rya Bhatta (ryabhaa) 35, 89 88, 9193, 95, 97, 101104, 106109,
Asanga 140, 145 114116, 125127, 129135, 137, 139140,
142143, 145, 150, 154156, 158, 160,
Bahrm Gr (Sasanian Emperor) 12, 17 166, 170172, 178, 181182, 190191, 193,
Balabhadra 91 195203
Bhoja Rja 163 Paulisa 37
Brahmagupta 3435, 37 Plato 93, 155
Plotinus 33, 150
Democritus 3233 Pythagoras 33
Dhan 35
Rmnuja 106
Euclid 38
Sahl (Agastya) 90
Gauapda 7172, 100, 166 li Abd al-udds 35
ankara Bhagavatpda 163
allj 193 Shams al-Mal Qbs b. Wushmagr (Ziyrid
Haribhatta 37 ruler) 9, 1217, 19
Hrn al-Rashd 35 Socrates 94, 150
Heliodorus 56 Srisena 37
St. Anselm 5253
Ibn al-Muqaffa 35 Sultan Abd al-Rashd of Ghazna 13
Ibn Hind 30 Sultan Ab Amad Muammad b. Mamd
Ibn Rushd 24 of Ghazna 18
226 index of names

Sultan Mamd b. Sebuktigin of Ghazna 4, 114, 117118, 120, 123, 126128, 130,
910, 13, 18, 23, 2728, 30 132134, 136138, 140142, 144145,
Sultan Masd b. Mamd of Ghazna 10, 13, 151, 162164, 172, 196198, 200
1821 203
Sultan Mawdd of Ghazna 10, 13 Vijn Bhiku 71
Vishnu Sarm 35
Vcaspati-mira 85
Varhamihira 3738 Yaqb b. riq 36
Veda-Vyasa 4648, 5054, 56, 66, 73,
80, 91, 98101, 103, 107108, 110 Zurqn 2930, 37
Index of Ancient and Mediaeval Sources

Agastyamata 90 Kitb l-Inf 12


Awl l-Nafs 83, 125, 146 Kitb l-jamhir fi marifat l-jawhir 10
Akhbr l-mubayyia wal-qarmia 77 Kitb l-aydana fil-ibb 10
al-Arkand 35 Kitb Snk 56, 3738, 4041, 6567,
Al-Asila wal-Ajwiba 3, 9, 11, 13, 2325, 32 7172, 82, 155, 158, 163180, 183,
Al-thr l-Bqiya an l-Qurn l-Khliya 3, 185187
89, 1224, 26, 2829, 32, 77 Kitb tadd nihyat l-amkin li-ta
Almagest 18, 38 masft l-maskin 9
al-Majis 38 Kitb taqq m lil-Hind min maqla maqbla
Al-Qnn al-Masd fil-haya wal-nujm 3, fil-aql aw mardhla 17, 10, 12, 1415,
10, 12, 15, 1824, 26, 28 1718, 2331, 3384, 8691, 9394,
al-Sam wal-lam 11 98, 100, 104106, 109, 112, 115, 122124,
126127, 131, 140, 150193, 195, 197198,
Bhagavadgt 5, 37, 4243, 5564, 67, 72, 76, 203, 205209
96, 100, 105, 155156, 187
Bhya (of Gaudapada) 7172, 166 Laghujtaka 37
Brhmasphuasiddhnta 34, 37 Laukayta 90
Brhatsamhit 3738
Mahbhrata (Great Epic of the Bharata
Carak Samhit 3637 Dynasty) 42, 5556, 58
Chhanda 37 Metaphysics (of Ibn Sns Shif) 13, 79
Murj l-dhahab 34
De Anima (of Ibn Sinas Shif) 7, 75, 81, 83,
93, 125, 146148, 192 Nakshatra Sstra 35
De Caelo 11 Nyya 38
De Intellectu 113
De Interpretatione 113 Pacasiddhntik 37
Panchatantra 35
Elements 38 Panjika 35
Enneads 33 Ptajalayo-gastrabhyavivarna (sub-
commentary of Sankara Bhagavatpada)
Ganit 35 163
Paulisasiddhnt 37
Hitopadesh 35 Phaedo 9394, 99, 155
Posterior Analytics 90
Josapha and Brlm (Bodhisatwa and Purohit) Proslogion 53
35
al-Qurn 8, 19, 21, 26, 60, 91, 186187
Kall wa Dimn 35
Karana Tilak 35 Ramayana (Romance of Rama) 55
Karna 36 Rasil 34
Kaha Upaniad 39, 100 Romakasiddhnta 37
Khanakhdyaka 35, 37
Khayl l-kusfayn 37 a Bukhr 8
Kitb al-Burhn 90 Smkhya 6, 38
Kitb l-fihrist 3435, 90 Skhya-krik (Snkhyakrik) 31, 71, 166
228 index of ancient and mediaeval sources

stras 4748, 51 Vishnu-Dharma 155


Shif 7, 13, 75, 79, 81, 83, 93, 192
Sind Hind 34 Yoga-Bhya 66, 164, 172
Yoga-Stra 13, 56, 31, 33, 3742, 4448,
Tarjamatu kitbi Btanjal fil-khali mina 5056, 62, 70, 7376, 78, 8081,
l-irtibki (Kitb Btanjal) 1, 3, 56, 33, 8586, 88, 9193, 97101, 103104,
3738, 4041, 4352, 5456, 58, 6266, 107123, 125138, 140142, 144145,
68, 7083, 85191, 193, 195208 148151, 154, 162166, 172, 182, 190191,
Tarkb l-aflk 36 195203