The doctrine, again, that Nescience is put an end to by the cognition of Brahman being the Self of all can in no way be upheld; for as bondage is something real it cannot be put an end to by knowledge. How, we ask, can any one assert that bondage--which consists in the experience of pleasure and pain caused by the connexion of souls with bodies of various kind, a connexion springing from good or evil actions--is something false, unreal? And that the cessation of such bondage is to be obtained only through the grace of the highest Self pleased by the devout meditation of the worshipper, we have already explained. As the cognition of universal oneness which you assume rests on a view of things directly contrary to reality, and therefore is false, the only effect it can have is to strengthen the ties of bondage. Moreover, texts such as 'But different is the highest Person' (Bha. Gi. XV, 17), and 'Having known the Self and the Mover as separate' (Svet. Up. I, 6), teach that it is the cognition of Brahman as the inward ruler different from the individual soul, that effects the highest aim of man, i.e. final release. And, further, as that 'bondage-terminating' knowledge which you assume is itself unreal, we should have to look out for another act of cognition to put an end to it.--But may it not be said that this terminating cognition, after having put an end to the whole aggregate of distinctions antagonistic to it, immediately passes away itself, because being of a merely instantaneous nature?--No, we reply.
Since its nature, its origination, and its destruction are all alike fictitious, we have clearly to search for another agency capable of destroying that avidya which is the cause of the fiction of its destruction!--Let us then say that the essential nature of Brahman itself is the destruction of that cognition!--From this it would follow, we reply, that such 'terminating' knowledge would not arise at all; for that the destruction of what is something permanent can clearly not originate!--Who moreover should, according to you, be the cognising subject in a cognition which has for its object the negation of everything that is different from Brahman?--That cognising subject is himself something fictitiously superimposed on Brahman!--This may not be, we reply: he himself would in that case be something to be negatived, and hence an object of the 'terminating' cognition; he could not therefore be the subject of cognition!--Well, then, let us assume that the essential nature of Brahman itself is the cognising subject!--Do you mean,we ask in reply, that Brahman's being the knowing subject in that 'terminating' cognition belongs to Brahman's essential nature, or that it is something fictitiously superimposed on Brahman?
In the latter case that superimposition and the Nescience founded on it would persist, because they would not be objects of the terminating cognition, and if a further terminating act of knowledge were assumed, that also would possess a triple aspect (viz. knowledge, object known, and subject knowing), and we thus should be led to assume an infinite series of knowing subjects. If, on the other band, the essential nature of Brahman itself constitutes the knowing subject, your view really coincides with the one held by us. 1## And if you should say that the terminating knowledge itself and the knowing subject in it are things separate from Brahman and themselves contained in the sphere of what is to be terminated by that knowledge, your statement would be no less absurd than if you were to say 'everything on the surface of the earth has been cut down by Devadatta with one stroke'--meaning thereby that Devadatta himself and the action of cutting down are comprised among the things cut down!
1##. According to which Brahman is not gnanam, but gnatri.