Consciousness is the attribute of a permanent Conscious self.
Let it then be said that consciousness is proof (siddhih) itself. Proof of what, we ask in reply, and to whom? If no definite answer can be given to these two questions, consciousness cannot be defined as 'proof'; for 'proof' is a relative notion, like 'son.' You will perhaps reply 'Proof to the Self'; and if we go on asking 'But what is that Self'? you will say, 'Just consciousness as already said by us before.' True, we reply, you said so; but it certainly was not well said. For if it is the nature of consciousness to be 'proof' ('light,' 'enlightenment') on the part of a person with regard to something, how can this consciousness which is thus connected with the person and the thing be itself conscious of itself? To explain: the essential character of consciousness or knowledge is that by its very existence it renders things capable of becoming objects, to its own substrate, of thought and speech. This consciousness (anubhûti), which is also termed gñâna, avagati, samvid, is a particular attribute belonging to a conscious Self and related to an object: as such it is known to every one on the testimony of his own Self--as appears from ordinary judgments such as 'I know the jar,' 'I understand this matter,' 'I am conscious of (the presence of) this piece of cloth.' That such is the essential nature of consciousness you yourself admit; for you have proved thereby its self-luminousness. Of this consciousness which thus clearly presents itself as the attribute of an agent and as related to an object, it would be difficult indeed to prove that at the same time it is itself the agent; as difficult as it would be to prove that the object of action is the agent.
For we clearly see that this agent (the subject of consciousness) is permanent (constant), while its attribute, i. e. consciousness, not differing herein from joy, grief, and the like, rises, persists for some time, and then comes to an end. The permanency of the conscious subject is proved by the fact of recognition, 'This very same thing was formerly apprehended by me.' The non-permanency of consciousness,
on the other hand, is proved by thought expressing itself in the following forms, 'I know at present,' 'I knew at a time,' 'I, the knowing subject, no longer have knowledge of this thing.' How then should consciousness and (the conscious subject be one? If consciousness which changes every moment were admitted to constitute the conscious subject, it would be impossible for us to recognise the thing seen to-day as the one we saw yesterday; for what has been perceived by one cannot be recognised by another. And even if consciousness were identified with the conscious subject and acknowledged as permanent, this would no better account for the fact of recognition. For recognition implies a conscious subject persisting from the earlier to the later moment, and not merely consciousness. Its expression is 'I myself perceived this thing on a former occasion.' According to your view the quality of being a conscious agent cannot at all belong to consciousness; for consciousness, you say, is just consciousness and nothing more. And that there exists a pure consciousness devoid of substrate and objects alike, we have already refuted on the ground that of a thing of this kind we have absolutely no knowledge. And that the consciousness admitted by both of us should be the Self is refuted by immediate consciousness itself. And we have also refuted the fallacious arguments brought forward to prove that mere consciousness is the only reality.--But, another objection is raised, should the relation of the Self and the 'I' not rather be conceived as follows:--In self-consciousness which expresses itself in the judgment 'I know,' that intelligent something which constitutes the absolutely non-objective element, and is pure homogeneous light, is the Self; the objective element (yushmad-artha) on the other hand, which is established through its being illumined (revealed) by the Self is the I--in 'I know'--and this is something different from pure intelligence, something objective or external?
By no means, we reply; for this view contradicts the relation of attribute and substrate of attribute of which we are directly conscious, as implied in the thought 'I know.'
Consider also what follows.--'If the I were not the Self, the inwardness of the Self would not exist; for it is just the consciousness of the I which separates the inward from the outward.
'"May I, freeing myself from all pain, enter on free possession of endless delight?" This is the thought which prompts the man desirous of release to apply himself to the study of the sacred texts. Were it a settled matter that release consists in the annihilation of the I, the same man would move away as soon as release were only hinted at. "When I myself have perished, there still persists some consciousness different from me;" to bring this about nobody truly will exert himself.
'Moreover the very existence of consciousness, its being a consciousness at all, and its being self-luminous, depend on its connexion with a Self; when that connexion is dissolved, consciousness itself cannot be established, not any more than the act of cutting can take place when there is no person to cut and nothing to be cut. Hence it is certain that the I, i.e. the knowing subject, is the inward Self.'
This scripture confirms when saying 'By what should he know the knowcr?' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 15); and Smriti also, 'Him who knows this they call the knower of the body' (Bha. Gî. XIII, 1). And the Sûtrakâra also, in the section beginning with 'Not the Self on account of scriptural statement' (II, 3, 17), will say 'For this very reason (it is) a knower' (II, 3, 18); and from this it follows that the Self is not mere consciousness.
What is established by consciousness of the 'I' is the I itself, while the not-I is given in the consciousness of the not-I; hence to say that the knowing subject, which is established by the state of consciousness, 'I know,' is the not-I, is no better than to maintain that one's own mother is a barren woman. Nor can it be said that this 'I,' the knowing subject, is dependent on its light for something else. It rather is self-luminous; for to be self-luminous means to have consciousness for one's essential nature. And that which has light for its essential nature does not depend for its light on something else. The case is
analogous to that of the flame of a lamp or candle. From the circumstance that the lamp illumines with its light other things, it does not follow either that it is not luminous, or that its luminousness depends on something else; the fact rather is that the lamp being of luminous nature shines itself and illumines with its light other things also. To explain.--The one substance tegas, i.e. fire or heat, subsists in a double form, viz. as light (prabhâ), and as luminous matter. Although light is a quality of luminous substantial things, it is in itself nothing but the substance tegas, not a mere quality like e.g. whiteness; for it exists also apart from its substrates, and possesses colour (which is a quality). Having thus attributes different from those of qualities such as whiteness and so on, and possessing illumining power, it is the substance tegas, not anything else (e.g. a quality). Illumining power belongs to it, because it lights up itself and other things. At the same time it is practically treated as a quality because it always has the substance tegas for its substrate, and depends on it. This must not be objected to on the ground that what is called light is really nothing but dissolving particles of matter which proceed from the substance tegas; for if this were so, shining gems and the sun would in the end consume themselves completely. Moreover, if the flame of a lamp consisted of dissolving particles of matter, it would never be apprehended as a whole; for no reason can be stated why those particles should regularly rise in an agglomerated form to the height of four fingers breadth, and after that simultaneously disperse themselves uniformly in all directions--upwards, sideways, and downwards. The fact is that the flame of the lamp together with its light is produced anew every moment and again vanishes every moment; as we may infer from the successive combination of sufficient causes (viz. particles of oil and wick) and from its coming to an end when those causes are completely consumed.
Analogously to the lamp, the Self is essentially intelligent (kid-rûpa), and has intelligence (kaitanya) for its quality. And to be essentially intelligent means to be
self-luminous. There are many scriptural texts declaring this, compare e.g. 'As a mass of salt has neither inside nor outside but is altogether a mass of taste, thus indeed that Self has neither inside nor outside but is altogether a mass of knowledge' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 13); 'There that person becomes self-luminous, there is no destruction of the knowing of the knower' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 14; 30); 'He who knows, let me smell this, he is the Self (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 4); 'Who is that Self? That one who is made of knowledge, among the prânas, within the heart, the light, the person' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 7); 'For it is he who sees, hears, smells, tastes, thinks, considers, acts, the person whose Self is knowledge' (Pr. Up. IV, 9); 'Whereby should one know the knower' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 15). 'This person knows,' 'The seer does not see death nor illness nor pain' (Kh. Up. VII, 26, 2); 'That highest person not remembering this body into which he was born' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 3); 'Thus these sixteen parts of the spectator that go towards the person; when they have readied the person, sink into him' (Pr. Up. VI, 5); 'From this consisting of mind, there is different an interior Self consisting of knowledge' (Taitt. Up. II, 4). And the Sûtrakâra also will refer to the Self as a 'knower' in II, 3, 18. All which shows that the self-luminous Self is a knower, i.e. a knowing subject, and not pure light (non-personal intelligence). In general we may say that where there is light it must belong to something, as shown by the light of a lamp. The Self thus cannot be mere consciousness. The grammarians moreover tell us that words such as 'consciousness,' 'knowledge,' &c., are relative; neither ordinary nor Vedic language uses expressions such as 'he knows' without reference to an object known and an agent who knows.
With reference to the assertion that consciousness constitutes the Self, because it (consciousness) is not non-intelligent (gada), we ask what you understand by this absence of non-intelligence.' If you reply 'luminousness due to the being of the thing itself (i.e. of the thing which is agada)'; we point out that this definition would wrongly include lamps also, and similar things; and it would moreover
give rise to a contradiction, since you do not admit light as an attribute, different from consciousness itself. Nor can we allow you to define agadatva as 'being of that nature that light is always present, without any exception,' for this definition would extend also to pleasure, pain, and similar states. Should you maintain that pleasure and so on, although being throughout of the nature of light, are non-intelligent for the reason that, like jars, &c., they shine forth (appear) to something else and hence belong to the sphere of the not-Self; we ask in reply: Do you mean then to say that knowledge appears to itself? Knowledge no less than pleasure appears to some one else, viz. the 'I': there is, in that respect, no difference between the judgment 'I know,' and the judgment 'I am pleased.' Non-intelligence in the sense of appearingness-to-itself is thus not proved for consciousness; and hence it follows that what constitutes the Self is the non-gada 'I' which is proved to itself by its very Being. That knowledge is of the nature of light depends altogether on its connection with the knowing 'I': it is due to the latter, that knowledge, like pleasure, manifests itself to that conscious person who is its substrate, and not to anybody else. The Self is thus not mere knowledge, but is the knowing 'I.'