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Recollection, lndian and Platonic

Punar ehi vacas pate devena manasa saha

V aso6 pate ni ramaya mayy evastzt mayi srutam
Catlzedram lzabet in caelo qui intus corda docd.
St. Augustne, In epist. Joarmis ad Parthos

My Lord embraces ali things in His knowledge; will you

not remember?
Koran vr.8o, tr. A.



In the following artide, the doctrine that what we cali "learning" is really
a "remembering" and that our 'knowledge" is by participation in the
Omniscience of an immanent spiritual principle will be traced in Indian
and Platonic texts. This corresponds, in the same Perennial Philosophy,
to the doctrine that the beautiful is such by a panicipation in Beauty, and
ali being a participation of Being absolutely.
The omniscience of the immanent spiritual principle, intellectus vel
spiritus, is the logica! correlative of its timeless omnipresence. lt is only
from this point of view that the concept of a Providence (prajna, 1rpovoUL,
7rPOJL~8eta.) becomes intelligible. The Providental Self (prajiiiitman)
does not arbtrarily decree our "Fate" but is the witness of its operation:
our Fate is merely the temporal extension of its free and instant act of
being. lt is only because we think of Providence as a foreknowledge of the
[This study was 6rst published as Supplement No. 3 to the fourna/ of ehe Amercan
Orientai Society, LXIV (1944). The abstract that prefaced the artide has been retaned.-ED,]

AV 1.1.2: "Come thou again, O Lord of Spee<:h, with the divine mind, in6x it,
O Lord of Weal, in me, yea in me let thy lore abide." Cf. AV 1.1.4, sa1p .irutena
gamemahi, ''May we be familiar with thy !ore," where sam gam corresponds to
anubhu in other oontexts. Cf. also AA 11.2.7, Attir iwir me edili ... ma .iruta71'1 me
pra ksit, "Do thou (A.tman, Brahma) be revealed to me, may thy lore not forsake
me" (Keith's rendering).
St. Augustine: "His throne is in heaven who teaches from wthin the heart." Cf.
RU 111.9.23, ""the support of Truth is in lhe heart."




future that we are confused; as if we asked, What was God thinking in a

rime before time was! Actually, Providential knowledge is no more of

sartlanubhub, "this Self, Brahma, experient of alL"6 The sense is, then,

a future than of a past, but only of a now. Experience of duration is incompatible with omniscience, of which che empirica! self is cherefore incapable.
On che other hand, to che extent chat we are able to identify ourselves
with the Providential Self itself-rV<Oth o-mvrov, That art thou-we rise
above the sequences of F ate, becoming their spectator rather than their
victim. Thus the doctrine that ali knowledge is by participation is inseparably connected with the possibility of Liberation (mok~a, 1xns) from the
pairs of opposites, of which past and future, bere and there, are the pertinent instances in the present context. As Nicbolas of Cusa has expressed
it, the wall of the Paradise in which God dwells is made up of these contraries, and the strait way in, guarded by the highest spirit of Reason, lies
between them. In other words, our Way lies through the now and nowhere of which em pirica! experience is impossible, though the fact of
Memory assures us that the Way is open to Comprehensors of the T ruth.
THE Gay atri (RV m.62.10) invokes Savitr to "impel our intellections"
( dhiyo yo nab pracodayat) , or bener, "our speculatons." 2 AA II.3.5 tells
us that "the self that is in speecb ( viic) 8 is incomplete, since one intuits
( erlebt, anubh avatiY when impelled to thought ( mana.re) by the Breath
(prii1Jt:na) , not when impelled by speech." 5 "Breath" is to be understood
bere in its highest sense, common in the Aitareya Ara1Jyak_a, that of
Brahma and immanent solar Self, and as in BU n.5.19, ayam atma brahma

rhat it is not by what we are told, but by the indwelling Spirit, that we
know and understand the thing to which words can only refer us; tbat
which is audibly or otherwise sensed does not in itself inform us, but
merely provides the occasion and opportunity to re-cognize the matter to
which the externa1 signs bave referred us.
Wbile these texts unmistakably present us with the notions of illumination and inspiration, we should not propose to deduce from them alone
a fully developed theory of "Recollection" (smara, .rmrti; .rati) without
further support; we cite them firsr by way of introduction to otber texts
treating directly of Memory.
The doctrine is smply stated in CU vu.26.1: "Memory is from the Self,
or Spirt" (atmatab smarab ). For "tbe Self knows everything" (sarvam
atma janite, MU v1.7 ), ''this Great Being is just a recognition-mass"
(t~ijnanaghana, BU 11.4.12), or "precognition-mass" (prajiiana-ghana, BU
IV.5.13, cf. MaQQ. Up. 5). Brahma, Self, is "intuitive of everything" (.rartlanubhii(J, BU 11.2.19) because, as Saokara says, it is the "Self of all" (sarvatman); He, indeed, is "the only seer, hearer, thinker, knower, and fructuary in us" (BU m.8.u, Iv.s.s; cf. AA U1.2-4) and therefore, because
of His timeless omnipresence, must be omnscient. Memory is a participation of His awareness who never himself "remembers" anything, because
he never forgets. "Memory,'' as Plotinus says, "is for tbose who have
forgotten. m
eu VII.l3.1 echoes and expands A II-35 as cited above: "Memory
(smara) is more than Space (akasa, the medium of hearing). Accordingly,
even were many men assembled, not being possessed of Memory, neither
would tbey hear any one at ali, nor think (man), nor recognize (vijna),
but if possessed of Memory, they would bear and tbink and recognize.
By Memory, assuredly, one recognizes (t~ijanati) children, recognizes cattle. Revere Memory."
The power-of-the-soul that remembers is the Mind (manas = vov),8
undistracted by the working of the powers of perception and action.
"There, in 'clairvoyant-sleep' (svapne ) 11 that divinity intuits (anubhavati)

MU VI.Jo explains dhiyaf:r by buddhayaf:r; the dhira is "contemplative" rarher

than merely "wise." Wirh pracodayiJJ, cf. MU u.6 pratibodhanya and pracodayitr.
3 The powers of the soul ar e called "se! ves" in CU vm.8.12-4 ff. an d K.au~. Up.
tv.zo. That is to say, "the self of speech" means the man considered as a speaker.
rn rhis se n se, ma n has as many sei ves as h e has powers.
An11bhii (cf. '"g/eiclrkomm~n .. and accognosure) s literally "to come to be along
wirh," or "adapted or conformed to, or dentified wth" the object of know!edge,
wherher in the epistcmological or the erotic (JUB 1.54.7) sense; d. adacquatio rei
et intel/ectus. [Cf. anu .. . vid in RV IV.27.r = u6v~ut~ as defined in Cratylus 412.]
We have tried to suggc:st this conteni by using the word "intuii,'' and sometimel>
experiencc" (with implicd "mmedacy"), reserving "know" for iia.
This hardly differs from Keirh's ''ersion. On Manas (and Vac), cf. Coomaraswamy, "On Being in One's Right Mind," 1942, p. rx; and eu Vlll.l2.5, "Now he
who knows, 'Let me thnk this'-that is the Self (iitman, Spirt). The Mind is his
'd ivine eye' (dm"va cakJuS); h e, verily, with that divine eye, the Mind, beholds
these objccts of desi re, and is coment.'' Mind is the "prior" and the "overlord" of
rhe other powers of the soul (SB X-53-7. x1v.3.2.3).

~f is nec:essacly "omniscient" because t is "the only seer, hearer, thinker, etc:

m us (BU m.4.2, 111.7.23, etc.). The empirica! self is its instrument.
8 Cf. MU vr.34.6-9
Ennead$ JV47
& Suapna here, as often elsewhere, s not ordinary sleep or dreaming, but a state
ot contemplation (dhyna). The "divirty" is the "Recognitive Person" (viflimamaya
purUfa) of BU 11.1.17, r8, "who said to be 'asleep' (svapiti) when he controls rhe



Sarvimuhhii/:1 states rather the basis t han the bare fact of omniscence. The



Greatness. Whatever has heen seen (dr!~m ), he proximately sees (anupaiytr.), whatever has been heard, he proximately hears (anuirut:~oti).
Whatever has been and has not been seen, whatever has been heard and
has not been heard, imuitively known or unknown (anubhutam, ananubhutam), good or evi l (sat, asat) ,10 whatever has bee n directly experienced
(pratyanubhutam) in any land or aire, again and again he directly experiences; he sees it all, he sees it all" (Prasna Up. Jv.s); or, as the Commentator unders:.ands the condusion, "being himself the ali, he sees it
ali," in accordance with the principle of the identity of knowing and
being enunciateci in verse H, where the Comprehensor of the Self "knowing ali, becomes ali." In the foregoing context, S:u;tkara interprets, rightly
I think, "seen and not seen" as rderring to "what has been seen in this
birth an d what has been seen in another birth" :11 the meaning of this

will become clearer when we dea! with jiitafledas and jatissaro and f we
bear in mind that though he speaks of former births, the Lord is for him
"the only transmigrant.'' 12
The subject of Memor y is discussed in Mil78-8o. It is first shown that it
is not by thinking (citta) but by Memory (sati = smrti) that we remember; for we are not without intelligence even when what was clone long
ago has been forgotten (pamunham = pramrflam) . lt s then asked,
"Does Memory arise (appajjati) always as an over-knowledge state (sabba
. .. abhijanantti) 1 3 or is Memory factitious (katumik = kftima), and
answered that "Memory occurs as an over-knowledge state, and is also
factitious," i.e., i t may be either spontaneous or artifi.cially srimulated. u
The king rejoins, "That amounts to saying that ali Memory is over-kn owing, never factitious." Nagasena replies, "In that case, craftsmen would
have no need of workshops or schools of art or science, aad masters would
be useless; which is not true." So the king asks, "In how many ways does
Memory arise?" N agasena answers, "Sixteen. "1 G These are really only
two ways, either by over-koowing without means (abhijanato ), or by

powers of perception and aclion. Resuming the recognitive power (11ijnnam iidii.ya),
he rests in the heart. . . . When he 'slceps,' these worlds are his. . . . Controlling
the powers of perception and acrion, he drivt:s around in his own person (lit. 'body')
as he will." As in BU v.J.7, where this Person "as it were contemplates (dhyayati11a),
as it were disports, for when he is 'aslecp' ( svapno bhutv) he craoscends this world
and the forms of death."
In this technical sense, "slecp" and "dreaming" are not the sleep of fague but
the act of imagination. And this is q uite universal. Far example, r will pour out
my sp irit upon ali llesh . . . your old men shall drearn dreams, your young mcn
shall see visions" (Jocl 2:28); "my though ts ha soared high aloft, w hilc m y bodily
senses had been put under restraint by sleep-yet not such sleep as that of men
weighcd down by fullness of food or by bodily weariness-[and] merhought there
carne to me a Being ... rhe Mind of rhe Sovcreignty ... [who said] 'Keep in mind
ali that you desire to learn, and I will teach you,' " (Hennes, Lib. u; in 1.28 he
refers to the sleep of fatigue as "irrationa! sleep"); "Me bi-fel a fcrly ... l slumberde
in a slepyng . . . ~enne gon l meeten a meruelous sweune . . . I beo-heold. . . ."
(Piers the Plowman, Prologue). Matnnawi IV.3067 contrasts rhe sleep of the vu!gar
with that of the elect; the latter "has nothing in common with the sleep of ignorance (khwab-i-ghaf/at} in which m osr pcople pass their conscious lives" (Nicholson's note on Mathnawi n .31, d . t.J88-393; also BG n.~ (;md M 1.26oJ). Life is an
"awakening'' from nonexistence; "sleep" is an awakening from life.

12 See

Coomaraswamy, "'On the One and Only Transmigt ant" (in this volume-


W nat avail~tn me to sl~cp and wake?

lf to s/eep unsluping the way is set:n,
A h, then l su it Qtllll"lt:t h mc.
Tayumanavar (P. Arunachalam, "Luminous Sleep,"
reprinted from the Westminster- Review,
Colombo, 1903).
10 Lit. "aught and naught," and here "good and evil" rather than ''rea) :md unrea!"; d. pu'}yatr~ ca pilpatr~ ca in BU rv.3-5 and sadasat in MU 111.1.
u "God enjoys eternalwise the contingency of things. . . . The knower being that
which is known" (Meistet Eckhart, Evans ed., l, 391, 394). "The mind of thc Sage
at rest becomes the mirror of the universe" (Ch wzng-tzu, p. 158).

13 Abhi in abhijn intensifies jfla, to know ( ')'tyV.:.uK..,, voi..,, k ennen, cunning) :

to remem ber is somcthing more than simply to perceive; d . Meister Eckhart's "I
can see a rose in winter when no rose is therc." H ence, while abhijtiii. can mean
just "remember" or undc:rstand'' (Pa.Q.ini 111.2.112, abhijimsi = smarasi, budhyase;
Mi l 77, abhijniisi, "Did you ever remember ?"), in Pili Buddhism g::nera!!y the
sense of the marvellous predominates, and abhiiiiiil = abhijiman is usually the
supernatural knowkdge or omniscience of a Buddha, an iddhi acquired by con.
templative discipline and which he or other Arhats can "intuir" (anubhu) at will.
In this sense abhinna includes the six powers of levitation (morion at will through
the air), clairaudience, thought-reading, knowledgc of one's own and of other peOple's former births, and assurance that liberation has been attained (D m.281, based
on many other contexts, PTS Dictionary, s.v.). Ir is noteworthy that "over-knowng"
and '1iberarion" coincide, reminding one of Meister Eckhart"s "Not till the soul
k.nows ali that there is to be known can she pass over to the unknown good."
Abhijna does not appcar in the Upani~ads ; in BG it is always only uscd of ' 'know.
ing" Krishna-certainly an "over-knowing" and not an empirica! c:xperience. (Alternatively, one remembers" Krishna, BG vm.5.]
The Mi/imJapanha categories are not quite the same as those of the previously
cted texts, in which abhijfiii does not appear. But it is made very dear that all
learning is really re<ognition, i.e., rc-collection.
I.e., one abhj1mato and the rest ka!umikii. T.his must have something to do with
the well-known doctrine of the "sixteen parts" of which the ''Self' is the sixreenth
(BU 1.5.15) and that part "with which you now uncl.erstand (anubha11asi) the Vedas"
(CU vr.7.6). [Cf. The Gospel oj Sri RamakrsJ.na, cr. Swami Nikhilananda, New
York, t !)42, p. ,367.] O n the number "r6," d. E.J.H . MacKay, Chanhu-Daro Excavations ( I9JJ-I9J6), pp. 24<>-241 (Ammcan Orienta/ Smes, Vol. :w, 1943).





external stimulation (katumikti), the total of sixteen being madc up by

a subdivision of the sccond category according to the nature of the means.
Thus Mcmory occurs by over-knowledge simply when such as Ananda
or others w ho are "birth-rememberers" (itissarii) 16 remember a birth
(jotiTJ') saranti); it occurs factitiously when those who are naturally forgetful (muttha-ssatiko = mrf!a-)li are constrained or stimulated to remember by another person (or thing), e.g., when one recognizes a relative by
likeness, or catcle by their brands/8 or reads letters or numbers, or consults a book, or intuitively (anubhutato), as when one remembers what
has already been seen or heard (without being "reminded" of it). Memory,
in any case, is a latent power.
Thus what we think we "learn," but really "remember," implies that in
intuition directly, and in learning indirectly, we are really drawing upon
or, as the older texts would express it, "milking" an innate prescience
(prajnana = "TTpovoLa, "Trpop:f,9Ew.). In D 1.19-22 we are told that the gods
fall from heaven only when their "memory fails, and they are of confused memory" (sati mussati, satiya sammosii); those whose mi nd remains

uncorrupted, and do not forget, are "steadfast, immutable, eternai, of a

nature that knows no change, and will remain so for ever and ever" ; and
such, likewise, is the liberated (vimutto) Buddha's prescience (pajanami),
or foreknowing, "on which, however, he lays no stress" (taf!J ca pajiinana111
na pariimasati) . 1 ~ 1t is significant, in the .first piace, that what is thus sad
of the Buddha is, as so often bappens, only a paraphrase of what has already been said of Agni, who "does not forget the prior nor the latter
word, but is not vainglorious by reason of his counsel" (na muyau pra20
thamaTJ') nparaf!J vaco'sya kratva sacate apradrpidafa, RV 1.145.2). And
secondly, that for Plato also it is precisely a jailure to remNnber that
drags down from the heights the soul that has walked with God ( 6Eijl
fvvowa86., = brahmacri) and had some vision of the truths,u but cannot
retain it (Phaedrus 248c, cf. Plotinus, rv-4-7 ff.).~

This refers to the supernormal faculty of remembering past "habirarions," as

possessed by a Buddha or other Ar ha t, and is to be distinguished from tbc: memory
of a former habi ta tion by an ordinary brothcr, w hose mem ory of the pas t is includc:d in the list of facrious rememberings because m eans are employed ro evoke
it. The supernormal powcr is exercised at will by a Buddha and extends to the
recollecrion of any birth whatever, however remote; the brother who s not yet an
Arhat can only, by a step-by-step procedure, rccovcr rhe memory of one or more
births, but no more (Vis 41 1) ; in the first case the all-seeing view is, as it were, from
the center of a circle, whence ali "moments.. within or upon the circumference can be
seen at a glance; the second case is that of a being whose range is naturally confined
to motion along the crcumference itself ( i.e., in time, so far as memories are concerned), who cannot see forward or bac kward immedjacely but can only predict by
inference or recover the past by successive steps-he can look inward by analogy,
but has neither foresigh t nor hindsight nor insight, unless suprararionally and by
inspira tion. The Buddha has "prior kn owledge of the ultimate beginning (agaiifiam
. . . pajanami), and more than that" (D 111..28) ; bis range is infinite (anantagocarRm ,
Dh 179); but it is as the Buddha, the Wake, not as this man Gotama, now waking
and now slet:ping, that he is thus omniscient (sabbaiifiu = sarvajfig) , and similarly
in the case of others. This amounts to saying that Buddha = Paramatman.
17 TS vt1.6.1 0.4, madya, is glossed by vmrtyonmatta, "oblivious," "in a state of
amnesia." Sn 815, rnussati, is explained by nasJtlt, ''perishes" (SnA 5.36); and
parirnussati is paribahiro hoti, i.e., "wholly forgets" is to be "alienated" ( Vis 44).
l infer that amnesia was a knowo malady, and further that oli forgeduloess was
thought of as a madness ot the same kind, only le Buddha and other Arhars bcing
perfectl y sane.
18 Cf. eu VII.IJ.T, "recognize cattle," cired above. On catde brands see PohathKehelpannala in Ceylon N atio-no/ Review, l (1907), 334. and Joh n Abbott, The
Keys of Pow~ (New York, 1932), p. 140, and figs. 19-21 and 52.

I.e., na pariimriati, an d render cd by Rhys Davids, ''hc: is not puffed up; in a

similar context, D m.:U!, na pararniisiimi (cf. M 1.433 for this word) is rendered by
"l do not pcrv(:rt it"-"1 am not atrached to it" migh r be better. That thesc: are
the right connotations seems to fo llow from the Vedic parallel cited above. lr will
be because his prescic:nce is "of far more than that" ( tato ca 11ttarataritaram pajiiniimi, M 1.433 and D m.28), rather than because such knowledge is not essemial
to liberation (M 1.277), that it is not ovcrvalued; there are othc:r lan cosmc possibili ties.
On the distincrions of gnosis amongst the gods in the Brahma worlds, cf. A
1v.74 IL some are content with its beatitudes, othcrs are prescient (pajimanti) of
an absol u te libcration.
2 0 Suggestive of Agni's epithet Jatya-11ac, 'whose word is truth," RV m.26.9,
v11.2.3; cf. Pali sacca-llcil. sacca-viidin. 'The flower and fruit of speech is truth,.
(AA. 11.2.6 [or "meaning,.. Nirukta 1.1ol). Prathamarp napararn may well mean
"eternai" rather than "earlier and larter"; cf. BU 11.5. r9, apur11arn Rnaparam =
Paradiso, xx1x.2o, n prima ni pescia.
Agni, l{rcilv ... apradrpta~, contrasts with the Indra of BO 754, svena 11iryena
darpital}, unti! be is n.-awakened by Saptagu-Brhaspati = Agni and comes to himsdf
again. The Sacerdotium is oot intoxicated by knowledge, but the Regnum may be
intoocicated by power.
u Few retain an adequate memory of them (PhtUdrus 250A).
22 The gods do not sometimes forget and ~ometimes remember-"~uch memory
is for rhose who have lost it." The omnhcience of Zeus does not depend on observation, but on the innate gnosis of bis own unlimited !ife. Cf. lbn ' Ati, "Openly
the heart's c:ye then beholds him, and doth scorn remembrance, as a burden hardly
to be borne," quoted by Abu Bakr, Kitiib al Tda,.ruj, eh. 47 [cf. Paradiso XXIX.791f.l.
For Aristotle, too, the Divine Mind "does not remember," as docs the perishable
mind, which is reminded by its sense perceptions (De anima 3.5). "In the heart
one knows the trul, in the hcart alone, forsooth, is truth established" (BU 111.g.23) ;
the sours recogn ition of the visions stored up in her is thc: process of "remembering
(Enneads IV.7.10, 12). When everything has been remembered, once and for ali,
th en there is no more remembering as a process, but only an immemorial knowledge.
The disparagement of mc:mory will not, len, be misWtderstood ; one m ight say







No less striking is the fa et that m osa, m usa ( mf{a), "false," is regularly

opposed to saccam (satyam ) , ''true"; and since this musa, mrfii derives
from mussati, mrf, to "ignore," "forget," "overlook," it is clear that "nottrue" coincides with "forgotten." In the same way, although conversely,
).:r18TJ is "oblivion," "forgett.ing," and I.'J}6EUJ. "truth," or literally "notforgetting .'' Accordingly, ..'f10W<; ovpavOr; (Phaedo I09E) is not merely
"true, or rea!, heaven" but also "heaven where there is no forgetting," and
where, by the same token, the gods "never learn" because there is nothing
ever absent from their ken (Piotinus, IV+7); in the same way Plato's T
a.1J(M,ac; 7TEStov is not merely "plain of truth" but al so "lan d of no forgetting," and the apposite of Aristophanes' T ~871c; 7TESiov, "land of
oblivion" (Thc Frogs, r86). Lethe, too, s one of Discord's deadly brood
(Hesiod, Thcogony 227), and stili for Shakespeare means "death"; so
that the "land of not-forgetting" is also the "land of immortality." In the
sense that we are what we know, and that to be and to know are the same
( T -yp a.Yr voEtv o--rtv TE ~ea Elva~ )/3 recollecrion is life itself, and
forgetfulness a lethal draught.
So far, it is clearly implied that Memory is a kind of latent knowledge., 24

which may be either self-revealing or revived by an appropriate external

sign, for example, when we are "taught," or more truly "re-minded."
There is a clear distinction of mere perception from recognition, whether
or not evoked by the percept. Memory is a re>very or re-experiencing
(pratyanubhu, Prasna Up. JV.5), and it may be observed that the other
supematural powers (iddhi) which can be experienced at will by the
Arhat are similarly called "recoveries" (pa(ihara, V prati-hr). l t is evidently not, then, the outer, aesthetic self, but an inner and immanent
power, higher than that of the senses, that remembers or foreknows
(prajiia), by a "fore" knowledge that is rather "prior" with respect to
ali empirica! means of knowing than merely "fore" with respect to future
events-unde non praevidt:ntia scd providentia potius dicitur (Boethius,
De consolatione philosophiae v.6.f59, 70). That which remembers, or
rather which is always aware of all things, must be a principle always
present to (anubhu) ali things, and therefore itself unaffected by the duration in which these events succeed one another. 25 W e are thus reduced to
a Providence (prajiia, 1rp0voUL) ~ 6 or Providential Self or Spirit (prajiiiitman) as the ultimate source o n which ali Memory draws, and with which

that, like "consciaus ness" in the Buddhist parable of the Raft, remembering is
"good far crossing aver, but not an activity to be clung to." To remember is a virrue
in those who have forgotten, but th e perfected never lose their vision of the truth
and have no need to recai\ it (Phatdrus 249co, cf. Proclus as discussed in n. 25).
Sister M. P. Garvey, St. Augustu, Christian or Nto-Platonist (Mi lwaukee, Wis.,
1939), (p. 107, confuses memory with remembering, as one might being with becoming. Mcmory, takcn absolutdy, coincides with omniscience and is not a procedure; but rc:membering is learning and would be a contradiction in one whose
memory never fails. This is, in fact, Phi!o's distinction of memory (f'vrlf'"'') from
recollection ( &.va!A-tq<m) , the latter being a means of escape ( be ~fhr), but evi.
dently needless as such on the part of one whose memory has never lapsed
(ugum allegoriae ur.91-93) . This distinction, if I am not mistaken, is that of
smara from smaraiJa, the former denoting love as well as memory, and the
latter the act of remembering, which implies a desiring or seeking rather than a
Hennann Diels, ed., Dit Fragml'11k der Vorsokratiker (Berlin, 1903), fr. 1811 5
Cf. MU VI.343 yac cittas tanmayo hhavat, "What is one's thought, that he becomes,"
and St. Augustine, Confnsions xnr.n, "esse, nosse, velle ... in his tribus ... et una
vita mens et una e.ssentia."
"A fund of omniscience exists eternally in our heart" ( Mahiivairocan-bhisa'rlbolri, cited by R. Tajima from the Taisho (Tripitaka, XVIII, 38c.2o). This "fund"
corresponds to the layatlijiiiina ("Hoard of Diseernment"), which is co be distinguished from ali spccific ( singular) discernments, and identified with the ''Compendious Providence" (vijnna-glwna, prajnana-ghana) of the Upani$ads, and with
the fonn of God's knowledge in Christian theology, where his knowledge of himself is bis knowledge of ali things. [Cf. Enneads, rv.7.IO,I2, on the "eternai science"
latent wi thin you. ]


2~ "He knows, but it is not by m ean~ of anything other than himself that he
knows," BU 1V.5.15, etc. This is essentially aIso the Christian doctrine a bo~ t. the
divine manner of knowing, cf. Se. Thomas, Sum. Theol. 1.14. [ note Eunptdes,
Hden, 10I5-I017.]
. .

Cf. Pluzedrus 247! tf., "Knowledge, but not such knowledge as has a begmmng
an d varies as i c is associateci with ((v .. oucra = an ubhavati) the things we now
cali realities but that has its being in the reality that ." The soul that can always
hold this ~on remains inviolable; but even of those who bave seen it, "few are
possessed of a consistent mem ory."
"Every God has an undivided knowledgc of things divided and a timdess
knowledge of things temporal; he knows the contingent without contingency, the
murable immutably, and in generai ali things in a higher mode than belongs to
their station" (Proclus, Elements of T neology 124, cf. E. R. Dods' ed., .Oxf~rd
[reprinted 1963), p. 226). The gos of Proclus are, of course, the angels of D1onysJus
the Areopagite and of Christian theology in generai.
2 e To employ the word "Providence" correctly, it must always be remembered
that the foreknowing principle is that which gives being, and only indirectly a
manner of being. It is much rather Fate (the operation of mediate causes, ~arma)
that "allots" or "provides for" the being of things as they are, than Prov1dence,
which is the timeless witness of this operation. The divine foreknowing is not, as
such, a transitive act, but the act of being, prior to ali becomings, of which it knows
because it s the only real subject in them ali.
Thus in Dodds' Proclus, Elements of Theology, p. I26, "for which ic (Providence)
provides" should read "of which it is provident." Fate inheres in me, Providence is
ex tempore, and these are as much to lx: disri nguished as are mediate causes from
a first cause. (Cicero, De natura Deorum n.xxix, confuses prudence and provi.
dence! St. Thomas, Sum . Tluol. t.2J.2: "Provi dence is not anything in the things
provided far; but a type in the mind of the provider"-tberefore, not fate.




whoever attains to the same uninterrupted omniscience must be identified,

as in Prasna Up. IV.Io.
W e h ave already seen that there is such an omniscient Self, the fount of
Memory (CU vu.26.1, MU vr.7 ; cf. I Cor. z:n), and it is repeatedly affirmed
that this immortal, spiritual, foreknowing solar Self of ali being s, whose
presence is undivided in things d ivided (BG x111.15, 16),27 is our real Self,
to be distinguished from the contingem Ego, an apparently unanimous
( except in cases of schzophrenia) aggregate of powers of perception and
action which are "only the n ames of His acts" (BU 1-4-7, MU n.6d, etc.).
The providential principle, in other words, is the immanent Spirit, the
Knower of the field, apart from whom on the one h and n o birth cou ld
tak e piace (BG xm, etc.) , and apan from whom, as only seer, h earer,
thinker, etc. in us (BU m .7.23, etc.), neither experience nor memory
could be conceived. 28 W e see also that the verificaton of the words, "That
art thou," must involve at the same time liberation and omniscience.
The connecton of omniscience with brth implied above is significant.
/atissaro, cited above from Mil 78, in fact immediately suggests the older
epthet Jatavedas, Agni's because "he knows ali births" (vii va v~da janima,
RV vup3 ; jatanatp t1~da, A B u.39) , and the term jatat~idyii, k nowledge
of births, or genealogy. 2 9 It is because TanU-napat (Agni-Prajapati) becomes the immanent Breaths or P owers of the Soul (cf. SB; TS
n .r.r.3, 4; JUB 1v.2.6; MU II.6a, b, etc.) and is thus "his offspring's witness"
(prajanam upadrat!J; cf. JB m .z6t, agnir jajfie ... aupadrQ!tryaya) that the
gods through him "know the mind of man" (SB IU+25-J). 30 H ow should
He "who faces ali ways" (t~i1t~aJmukha, RV 1.976) and is "of many
births" (bhuri-janma, RV x.5.1), h e who is the universallife" (vift~ayu,
RV 1.27.3, and passim) or "mover of universal life" (RV VIII.4J.25), and
who assumes all forms (vi1t~arupa, RV m .38-4), not be also the "Allknower" (visvavit, RV m .29.7; viivavt:das, RV m .20.4, and passim) ?

As in Dionys ius, De divinibus nominibus xu . u.

Cf. Heb. 4: I3- The recollected and regen erated man is "un ewed in k_nowledge
after the mage of him who created hm" (Col. 3:10).
For the Knower of Births in divinis th.is will mean the "genealogy" of ali
things always; in the case of the hwnan priest, his mortai analogue, who vadat
;iitavidyam (RV x.7I.11), the genealogy will have to do with a particular line of
dcscent (m~tna).
The all-seeing Sun and the myriads of the solar "rays" or "eyc:s" [feet or
hands] that become the irnmanenr Breath an d the Breaths, our interior powers of
which the sense organs are the instrwnents (TUB 1.:28; MU v1.8, ere.) are prccisely
''die gi.iticher Spiiher, die der Menschen Thaten erschauen" (Gcassmann), RV



Agni, Jatavedas, is the Breath (AB 11.39, SB u .2.2.15) : "those of whose

birt hs he knows, they verily come to be ( bhavanti) , but of those whose
births be knoweth no t, ho w might they exist? " (AB 11.39) ; "in that i t is
the Breath that mounts ( q uickens) the emitted semen and knows i t, therefore He knows whatever is horn" (SB Ix.s.1.68). Beiog omniprogenitive,
the Spirit is omnipresent ; and beng omnipresent, necessarily omniscient.
This immanent Breath (or "Life") is, moreover, Vamadeva (.AA 11.2.1),
w ho says of himself, " Being now31 in the womb (garbh~ nu san) I have
k nown all the births of the gods" (RV IV.27.r ; AA u.5); "thus spake
Vamadeva, lying in the womb" (garbh~ . .. sayana!z, AA 11.5).12 A s Agni,
etc., engendered in ali things in motion or at rest (garbhaJ ca sJnatiitp
garbhai caratham) , the Only T ransmigrant 33 knows the operations of the
gods an d the births of me n, and is besought to ward ( ni pahi) their births
(RV 1.70.1-3); as G andharva 34 Soma-guardian "he wards (pati) the
generations of the gods" (RV rx.83-4), and as the All-seeing (visuam
abhi caf!e, RV VII.61.1), the Self of ali that is in motion or at rest (RV
1.115.1) and our true Far.her (JUB uuo.4), he is, as aforesaid, the "Knower
of births" (RV r.so.t ) . As Krishna, "Self abiding in ali beings" (aham
atma . . . sarva-bhutaiaya-sthitab, BG x.2o; cf. Heb. 4:12, 13) be knows ali
their births (ianmani .. . tiiny ahaf!l v~da sarvar:ti, BG 1v.5) .
This is not a knowledge of successive evems, but of ali at once-" Dove
s'appunta ogni ubi ed ogni quando ... ch n prima n poscia procedette"
(Paradiso xxrx.u, 20; Svet. Up. r.2). The Person of whom ali things are
born, the Lord of Immo rtality (amrtatvasyestinab ) , " when he rises up on
food" 35 (yad annenati rohati) becomes "alt this, both what hath been
at Vedic

nu, Jike sakrt, "once for ali," "nowever." Similarly the gnomic aorist,

"l have known."

N in BU 11.5.18, purii aya ; pura, as in Plato .r0t, being "body,'' and iaya
or iayana etymologically civ. P:ml Deussen (Sechtig Upan luzds cs Veda, Leipzig,
1897, p. 6o6) has pointed out th at the doctrine of a knowledge within rhe womb
that is lost ac birth, enunciated in Garbha Up. 3-4, corresponds co the Platonic d:trine thac ali "learning" is really recollection; cf. the H ebre1ov sources cited on
pp. 63-64- (Similarly, Udayana's view in the roth-century Kusumifjali; see A. B.
Keith, lndian Logic and A t()171ism (Oxford, 19.2.1), pp. 3r, lll9 ( he calls the view
See Coomaraswamy, "On the One and Only Transmgrant" [in thi.s volume-

u The progentive salar deity, as in M r.265,z66, gandhabho, apart from whom

the union of human parents is sterile.

J When he ''coma earing and drinking" (Luke 7:34). "T hat Golden Person in
the Sun ... is even H e who dwells within the lorus of che heart and eats food" (MU
Vl.l). "Food" in th.is conrext is no t, of course, merely "sol id food," but whatever
fuel fecds the fires of !ife, whether physical or mental.




and what shall be" (RV X.9CJ.2, cf. r.25.HH2; Svet. Up. m.r5). "That
God (Atman and Brahma of che preceding verses), indeed, fi.lls all quar~
ters of the Sky, aforetime was he born, and he is within the womb. He
alone hath been horn, will be horn. He standeth toward men, facing aH
ways" (Svet. Up. JI.I6). "Other than past and future ... Lord of what
hath been and shall be, he alone is today and wmorrow" (KU 1.14, IV.13).
That Great Being is AH~knowing, jusc because All things originate in
him (Sar;tkaracarya on BrSBh 1.1.3, BU 11.4.10). [n divinis, Brahma is the
lightning flash, which reveals ali things instantaneously ; and within you,
"that whch comes to mind, and by which it instandy remembers" (upas~
maraty abhikfnam, ]VB IV.21.4, 5 = Kena Up. rv+s). [Cf. Placo, Epistle
vm, 34m, "somecimes this k.nowledge does blaze forth with a most instantaneous flash ... ."]
There has thus been clearly established, in the Indian sources, a logica!
connection of Omniscience, an unbroken Memory of all things, with
temporal and spatial omnipresence.37 Only from this point of view can
the notion of a "Providence" be made intelligible, che divine life being
uneventful, not in the sense that it knows nothing of what we cali eveots,
but inasmuch as ali of che events of what are for us past and future times
are present to it now, and not in a succession. lt is just at this point that
we can most advantageousiy turn to consider the similar Platonic doctrine
"that we do not learn, and thar what we cali learning is recollection"
( n OV JLO.TifJaVOp.EII, t:i. TjiJ KO.OVp.EV p.CUJTJU&TI .vap.VTjCTt Wn), an d
that there is "no teacbing, but only recollection" (
tfni!U ~'~a.XJv

Elva.~ t:i., .vap.V1JCT&TI, Meno

8rE, 82A; cf. Phaedrus 278A) .38 Taking for

granted Plato's repeated dstinction of mortai and immortai "souls" that
dwell together in us, 39 and assuming fur ther that the immortal is not an
individuai but a universal principie "participated in" by the individuai,
not as a thing divided up but as one of which we can know-and beaccording to the measure of our ability to "know our seives,''40 we proceed
to cite the main text, that of Meno 81co.
"Seeing, then, that Soul [ 8Eo<; of Laws Bg]B] is immortai and has been
boro many cimes, and has beheld ali things both in this world and in
H ades, she has learnt ali things, wirhout exceprion; so that it is no wonder
that she should be able to remember ali rhat she knew before 41 about virtue

There is a significan t docuine of past ( bhutam) an d future ( bhavyam). Past is

to future as Sky, Day, Sun, Sacerdotium (brahma), Reality (satyam), and Certainty
are to Earth, Night, Moon, Regnum ( k,ratra), Unreality (anrtam), and Uncertainty
(AV u.15; SB I1.3.l.25). These are progenitive pairs, respec tively m. and f., differentiated here hut coincident l i'IInis. Man s generateci (prajiiyate) and increases from
the clash or conj ugation (maitlumam) of real and unreal (AA 11.3.6) ; or as we might
put it, man is the child of past and future. It is our uninterrupted genesis that separates these contrari es; their reunion taking piace only upon condition of our ceasing
to become, so as to be what we are ('That art thou"), now, iUb specie tusn-nitrltis.
It is, of course, "only as i t were with a pan of himsclf" (BG xv.7) that the Su.
preme ldentity of Being and Nonbeing can be thought of as Omnipresent, Omnilorm,
Omniscient. For Omniscience can be only of the possibilities and actualicy of manifestation: of what remains (~chif!am, AV XI.J, etc.) there can be neither science
nor amniscence, and it is fram this point of view that, as Erigena jusdy remarks,
"God does not know whl# he is, bec.a.use he is not any what" (cf. Buddhist kitr~
canna). It is only his possibilities of manifestation th.a.t become "whats" of which
there can be science or amniscience.

I t is in accordante with this doctrine that Placo takes it for granted that the
function of works of art is to remind us of thc eternai rcalities (Phacdo 74 ff.,
Phtudrus 278A); cf. MU VI.34, fin., where for those w ho do not sacrifice, or know,
or contemplate, "thc remembratlcc (smarana, (docta ignorantia]} of the hcavenly
abode of Brahma (i.e., brahmaloka) is obstructed." "lt is the unknown, methinks,
that thou shouldst remember" (atha nu mimii~syam eva te matlyc 'viditam, JUB
IV.19.1). In tbe conography of Sva, the demon on whom he uamples is called "the
person of amnesia" (apaf111ilra purU$a).
ag Timaeus 690, 90AC, Repuhlc 430, 6o4s; the lmmortal Soul being the "real
Self' of Laws 95911. That this Soul has never become anyone is dear from Meno
8rB, where the hieratic docuine is cited, that ''the Soul of Man is immortal, and at
one rime reaches an end, which is called 'dying,' and is 'born again,' but is never
slain." This is almost identica! with BU JV.4.5,6, BG 11.13 and 17-26, Plato's .i1T()Aw18aL 8' OVO1r07'{ COHCSponding [0 no hanyate hayamiinc iarire and ~ a11'0"
6~~et:tY ~e.Moiicn ro nityam va mrtam. ln the same way Phaedo 83sc, "the Self of
( ali) beings" (ain- -r*v llmw) and "Soul of every man" (1/rox?.,.am av8~ov,
Fowler's version, preferahle 10 Jowett's "every soul of man"), corresponds to the "Sdf
of ali beings" (sarveJafll bhutanam iitmiz, BU t-4-16) of the Upanisads. Cf. Phaedrus
24611, 1raua ~ 1/rox.~ 11'aVTo, an d 249E; an d Hermes, Lib. x.J, !frox~ Tov 11'av-ro.
Particular attention may also be called to P haedo 77" w here w e are told, not that
"our souls existed before we were horn," but that "the soul of u~ ( ~p.wv .q t/rtJX"')
existed before we were born." There is a paralle! in the Buddhist Vinaya, 1.23 (i.e.,
Mv 1.14, cf. Vis 393), where the Buddha asks a group of young men who are searching for a missing woman, "Which were the better for you, to go seeking the woman,
or to go seeking the Sdr'; he does not say "your selves." In both cases the reference
is to the unique principi e of many individuals. rct. Boehme, Signatura rerum 1X.65.)
40 "Philosophy . . . admonishing the soul to coUect and assemble herself in her
Self, and to rhrow in nothing bur her Self, that she may know her Self itself, the
Sdf of (ali) beings" (Phaedo A3r.) . Cf. Coomaraswamy, 'The 'E" at Delphi" rin
this volume-ED.], and Hinduism and Buddhism , 1943, pp. I5-I8, s8.
4 1 The doctrine of Recollection recurs in the Koran (v1.8o), and permeates Riimi's
Mathnawi (see Anamnesis in Nicholsoo's subject index). Mathnawi IV.3632-3635
runs, "What wonder, then, if the spirit does not remember its ancient abodes, whch
have been ts dwelling place and hirthplace aforetimc, since this world, like sleep,







and other things. And since ali Nature is congeneric, there is no reason
why we should not, by remembering but one single thing42-which is
what we cali 'learning'-discover ali the others, if we are brave and faint
not in the enquiry; for it seems tbat to enquire and to learn are wholly
a matter of remembering."43 The same doctrine is discussed in Phaedo

72E ff., and 75E, where "we must necessarily have learned in some prior

is coverng i t aver as clouds cover the stars? Especally as i t has trodden so many
cities, and the dust has not yet been swept from its perceptve faculty, nor has it
made ardenr efforts that its heart should become pure and behold the past; that
ts heart should put forth its head from the aperture of the mystery and should see
the beginnng and the end wth opcn eye." The wording is suggestive of lndan
rather than Platonic derivation. The connected doctrine that God is the real agent
and man only his instrument, as expressed, for cxample, in the Man#qu'!-Tair,
AH you have been, and seen, and done, and thought,
Not you, but /, bave secn and been and wrought
is equally Indian (JUB 1.5.2, MU 111.2, BG 111.27, ere.) and Nea-Platonic (Philo, Dr:
opificio mundi 78, etc.).
Cf. TimaeUJ 50AB, and eu VI.I.4, "That teaching (iidt:Sam) whercby what has
not been heard of becomes heard of, what has not been thought of becomcs thought
of, what has not been known bccomes known of. . . Just as by one piece of clay
everything made of clay may be known of, the modilcation being only a matrer of
naming, and the reality (satyam) just day." Cf. BU rv.5.6. [Socrates claims to know
everything always by means of his soul, Euthydemus 295 ff.]
''Virtue" ( ap~) is the subject under discussion. The Dialogue does not decide what "virtue" is; it is neither natural nor taught, nor s it prudence ( 4>pc$"'1u'<:),
but a thing "that com es to us by a divine dispensation (Mt:no g8s, 99E ff.). h is a thing
to be remembr:red, which remembrance is properly called "learning" (pJ.fJ.r,at<:, cf.
p.a.~n1c:, disdple, irvaka): whence it follows that ignorance, or rather "want of
learning" (O.p.a.Oia., cf. Pali assutavii putthujan = profane ol wo.Uot), the ignorance
that is so disgraceful (Apo/ogy 29B, Phaedrus 27JE), is really "forgetfulness"; cf.
Skr. airtaa, "untaught," and airuti, "oblivion." For Hennes, "the soul's vice is ignorance (&yvwula) and her virtue (apfni) gnosis" (ub. x.8.9, cf. 13.711); and that,
I think, is just what Socrates means to imply, namely, that virtue s a function of
sclf-knowledge (Skr. iitmaifiiina), and can be thcirs only who "know themselvc:s."
The tradi rional "ignorance" has nothing, of course, to do with w ha t we cali "il.
literacy.'" The exaggerated value that we attach to "literature" as such would have
been, indeed, for Plato, in itself an evidence of "ignorance" (Phaedrus 275, 278) ; [cf.
Laws 68g, "only those should govern w ho are masters of themse)ves, not those who
are merely literate or otherwise expert"]. Ignorance is "subjection to pleasure," or
w hat amounts to the same thing, "subjection to oneself" ( ~ '7r'rw flvot o.vToi,
ProtagoraJ 357E 358c; d. Repuhiic 4301:. ff.); ignorance is of what is just and what
unjust (Phaedru.r 277E); nothing is worse than to think one knows what one does
not know (Apology 29u). lt s the Self that should be known (rv~lh ufav-rOv):
for when the Self is seen, is heard, thought of and known, this Ali is known (BU
1v.s.6). Whereas to put our trust in the written characters, which are not a part
of our Self, is a hindrance to that recollection thar is in and of the Self (Phaedrus


t ime what we no w remember. But this is impossible if the Soul in us had

not existed anywhere before being horn in this human nature; and so
by this consideration it appears agan that the Soul is immortal"; as in
Meno 86AB, "if in us the truth of ali things be the Soul, then Soul must
be 'immortal' for it knows things of whch we could not bave acquired
knowledge in this lfe and 'must bave had this learning through ali time'
, )"~4[f
' 'TOV
ytmaeus 36"'1
C 1rpot;
Followng Meno Sr, Socrates goes on to give a practical demonstration by
educing from rather than communcating to a pupil, knowledge which
he did not appear to possess; and this seems to show that ali true educaton is rather a destruction of ignorance 45 than the gift of a knowledge, a
view that is in dose agreement with what is called in India the "self-manifestation" nature (sva-prakasatva) of the intellectual principle.
Plato's lmmonal Soul, ''the most lordly and divine part of us" (Timaeus
90AB), ca n be only the immanent Daimon, "that vulgar fellow, who cares
for nothing but the truth" (Hippias maior 2860). lt is Phllo's "Soul of
the soul"; the Sanctus Spiritus as distinguished from the (mortai) "soul"
(Heb. 4:12) and "source of all that is true, by whomsoever it has been
said" (St. Ambrose on 1 Cor. 12:3, cited by St. Thomas Aquinas, Sum.
Theol. I-II.IQ9.I); the Scholastic Speculum Aeternum6 and Synteresis,47
Dante's Amor (Purgatorio XXIX.52-54), and our own "conscience" (E.E.
"inwyt") in the originai and fullest sense of the word; and the lmmortal
Self, the source of Memory, of the V edanta.
W e meet the doctrine of recollection also in Hebrew contexts. In the
Talmud (Nidda JOB) and Zohar (Wayyiqra, Aharei Mot), we are told
that all human souls bave a full knowledge of the Torah, etc. (see n. ,32),
Here again "soul" in the singular, "we" plural. But elsewhere we find (im
mortai) "souls" in the plural (Phaedo 76). Both uses are consistent with the view
that ali souls are facets of one Soul, which I think was Plato's belief, as it was certainly that of Plotnus and Hermes.
i s Not that ignorance is "rea)" (in which case i t could not be "destroyed"), but as
darknc:ss (privation of lght) it is removed by illumination. Pali rexts often employ
this illustration: when the Buddha has deated up some problem by his arg.ument,
"it is just as if a lamp were brought into a dark room.'"
i6 "Wherein those who gaze behold ali things, and better than elsewhere" (St.
Bonaventura, I Sent. d. 35, a unc., q. I, fund. 3, "sieut dicit Augustinus") ; "as a clear
mirror sees all things in one image" (Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., I, 253).
H Cf. O. Renz, "Die Synteresis nach dem Hl. Thomas von Aquin," in Beitrige
zur Geschichte et' Philosophe des Mittelflltr:rs, X (Miinster, 19n).




and retain all their knowledge until they come down to eanh and are
born. Manasseh ben lsrael ( seventeenth century) sa w bere the equivalen t
of Plato's doctrine of Recollection, for it must follow that whatever is
learnt after birth can only amount to a recovery of this knowledge; and
so Elimelech of Lizensk ( eighteenth century) says, "By relearning the
Torah later on for its own sake he (the child) succeeds in grasping the
truth as it was originally implanted in h im."~ The implied eternity of
"the Torah that created all the worlds and is the means by which these
are sustained" (Zohar, Beha 'Alotheka) is like that of the Veda, of the
origin of which nothing more can be said than that "the Lord" (ISvara =
Kyrios, Demiourgos), at the beginning of each world-aeon, "remembers"
(smrtva) it and promulgates it, and there is no ground for supposing that
it was composed by any other standard (Apadeva). 49 Again, the doctrine
of Recollection is explcit in Meister Eckhart, who says: "If I knew my
Self as intimately as I ought, I should have perfect knowledge of ali creatures," for "the soul is capable of knowing ali things in her highest power,"
viz. "as a clear mirror sees all things in one image," and so "not umil she

knows all thac there is to be known does she (the soul) cross over co the
Unknown Good." 50 The doctrine survives in Blake's "ls the Holy Ghost
any other than an ntellectual fountain ?"
W e need not attempt to follo w up the history of the doctrine in any
greater detail. Our main objecr has been to cali attention both co the
importance and to the universality of the doctrine of Recollection, and to
bring out that it is only one of the many consistent features of a philosophy
that is essentially the same in Plato and in the Vedanta. 5 t

For a fuller discussion of this materia! see J. Finkel, ''A Psychoanalyric Pre.
figuration in Hasidic Literature," Eidenu, New York, 1942. Finkel justly observes
that Elimelech's "Unconscious" is not psychological but uanscendental. Cf. n. 33
(Eieazar of W orms (d. 1223- 1232) held that a guardian angel causes forgetfulness at
birth because if it is remembered, the contradiction of the course of the world with
its knowledge would drive it to madness (G. G. Scholem, Major Trends in fewh
Mysticism, Jerusalcm, r94r (New York, 1954], p. 92).]
P Mlmarp.sii Nyya Prakiiia 6; late, bue a restaternent of the o! d est Pifrva Mimi.urls docuine; [cf. Prva Mimiitnsa Sutras 1.1.5 and BrSBh 1._p8]. The similar
doctrine that the Koran is "uncreated" is fundamental to Islam.
Not to have studicd (ahi) or understood ( viiii) the Veda ("wi r," as in Wydiffe's
version of Rom. u :34) is utter ig.norance (SA x1v). Since the dictionary meanings
of ad hi (li t. "go to") are to "study" or "remember," and of smr, to "remember" or
"teach," all this amounts to saying that to learn is to remernber. Closely related to
this are the well-known Indian pedagogic princples of ora! instruction and learning
by heart, which are, again, in agreement with Plato (Phaedrus 275A, 278A). To have
to '_'look up" a text implies that although we have been once reminded, we have
agam forgotten, and are no less ignorant than before. We only really know what
we can always quote. Hence the preference for ora! instruction, which must be remembered, if we are to possess it. Under these conditions, as also in many "primitive" civilizations, culture is independent of literacy, which last Plato called "a de.
vice for forgetting." Cf. Coomaraswamy, "The Bugbear of Lireracy," 1944.
The further argument of the Prva Mimiirp.sa, that words participate in eterniry
because they havc a meaning, is entirely comprehensible from the Platonic, Aristotelian, and Scholastic doctrine that knowledge can be only of the mrnutable, and
not of any things in Bux, singulars, or accidentaJs, which never retain their idenriry
from one moment to wother. In other words, perception and knowledge, facts and
realiries, are very ditferent things.


~o Evans ed., I, 324, 253, 359, 385.

The virtual identity of Indian and Socratic-Platonic philosophy is of far greater

signifi.cance than the problem as more often discussed in connection with Plotinus.
T h ere we are dealing, no t with "influences,'' but-i ust as in the case of the roots
and idioms of thc Janguages, Greek and Sanskrit themsel ves-with cognate doctrines
and myths, many of which are as much Sumerian as they are Greek or Indian. The
Philosophia Perennis antedates the whole historical period within which "influences"
can be predicated.
For example, it is nor by a borrowing but only by a long inheritance that we
can explain thc occurrence of the cutting reed" and "clashing rock" forms of the
"active door" (Janua Coeli) in Greece on the one band and in Navajo and Eskimo,
Mexican and South American, and Chinese and lndian mythology, on che other.
Cf. R. Gunon, lntroduction to th~ Study of the Hindu Doctrines, tr. Marco Pallis
(London, r945), p. so. Ali mythology involves a corresponding philosophy; and if
there is only one mythology, as there is only one "Perennial Philosophy," then th.at
"the myth is not my own, l had t from my mother" (Euripides) ponts to a spiritual
uniry of the human race already predetermined long before the discovery of metals.
l t may be r eally true that, as Alfrcd Jeremias said, the various eu!tures of mankind
are no more than tbc diali!cts of one and the same spiritual language. For this point
of vew, as now entertained by a large scbool of anthropologists, for whom the concept of one "High God" antedates evc:n the devel opment of animism, cf. Father
Wilhelm Schmidt, Der Ursprung der Gottuidu (Miinster, 1912-1939); The Origin
and Growth oj R( /igion, u. H J. Rose (New York, 1931); and High God; in North
America (Oxford, 1933). (Fundamentally, it is held in common that philosophy is
both a way of !ife and a means of escapc from the wheel, whereby the soul returns
to its own.]