Various vAda-s in advaita (was Re: A few questions)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Sat Feb 1 15:23:35 CST 1997

Giri wrote:

[ ... ]

> [Sorrry for the long e-mail, but thought of providing some objections to
> the drshti-sristi view].

I'll address the points in this post in various parts. I'll first reply to the
points of Swami Prakashananda.

> Swami Prakashananda says
> 'The idealist view that physical objects have no existence in themselves
> but are mere externalization of mental ideas is not tenable...
> There is a vital difference between a thing cognized, a tree for instance
> and its idea. The one cannot be objectification of the other. The idea of
> the tree is invariably cognized as something internal and non-material,
> whereas the tree is cognized as something concrete and external. In
> actual experience, the perception of the tree precedes the ideal of the
> tree, and not vice-versa. We get the idea of the tree from its percetion
> and not the perception of the tree from its idea. Moreover, unlike the

I'll address the point "We get the idea of the tree from its percetion and not
the perception of the tree from its idea" first. In the dream the same idea is
present, to wit, when _in_ the dream, one thinks that perception precedes the
ideal too and not otherwise! The very idea of perception before ideal is thus a
mental construct only. Note that gauDapAda admits that there is an empirical
reality to the world (GK II) and that it is not like the horns of a hare.
However the point is that it cannot be meaningfully distinguished from the
dream world. Thus he says:

svapnajAgarititasthAne hyekamAhurmnIshhiNaH |
bhedAnaM hi samatvena prasiddhenaiva hetunA || (GK II.5)

[ Inasmuch as the diverse things are (found to be) similar on the strength of
the familiar ground of inference, the wise say that the dream and waking state
are one ]

So, what is the point here? Find the substratum of the states, which is never

Next the point from the previous quoted part:

> The idea of
> the tree is invariably cognized as something internal and non-material,

and the next sentence:

> idea, the perception of the tree is spatially and temporarily determined.

No one would see would see a tree in a dream and then comment in the dream

Oh, the tree I am seeing is a mental idea, So:

1. it is internal.
2. it is not concrete
3. that the perception of the tree is _not_ spatially and temporally determined.

The above argument of internal and external, quoted by Swamiji, is only relative
to the waking state. It can be seen that what is perceived as a mental idea and
hence internal, _after_ waking up, ( i.e., the tree in a dream is seen as an
internal idea _after_ waking up), appears as an external object when _in_ the
dream. Thus it can be seen that the very idea of internal and external is a
mental construct only. Hence AcharyaL says,

svapne tadvatprabodhe yo bahishchAntastathaiva cha |
AlekhyAdhyayane yadvattadanyonyadhiyodbhavaM || (Up.S XVII.18)

[ The events in the waking state are similar to those in dream. The ideas of
interior and exterior in the former state is as unreal as in the latter like
reading and writing depend on each other ]

Similarly the "concreteness of objects" cannot be used to distinguish objects
from their ideas. The "concreteness" idea is explicitly rejected by gauDapAda
in GK II.

> The idea of the tree we can carry within us wherever you go, but the
> perception of the tree we cannot. We can recall the idea of the tree at

Is the idea, when in a dream, any different? The very "idea" of ideas being
carriable, but that objects cannot be, is itself only an idea :-).

> will, but not its percept. Had the perception of the tree been nothing
> more than the externalization of the internal idea, then a person could
> have the experience of the tree anywhere without sharing it with others.
> But this never happens except in hallucination...

Well, all this is the usual confusion from not objectively examining the
evidence. Implicitly, in all such arguments, more weightage is given to the
waking state.

> The view that mind and sense-organs construct the diversified world on
> the ground of Reality is not admitted by vedanta...The sensible world is
> not the projection of the finite mind. The human mind and the

No one said so, not gauDapAda at any rate!

> sense-organs are revelatory or interpretative rather than creative. ...

Seemingly true, but doesn't hold water on objective analysis!


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list