kriyA in the mAnasollAsa (was Re: Various vAda-s ... )

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Thu Feb 6 10:43:07 CST 1997

Anand wrote:

[ ... ]

>     The following verse occurs early in the first chapter. Note the
>     use of the word `kriyaa' (activity) which is typically found
>     in Kashmir Shaivism.
>    jnaanam na chedsvayaM siddhaM jagadandhaM tamo bhavet.h |
>    kriyaa na chedasya kaachit vyavahaaraH kathaM bhavet.h ||
>    If Knowledge (Consciousness) were not Self-established, then
>    the world would have been in darkness.
>    If it were without activity, then how would there be action
>    (in the world).
>    I have seen some people interpret the second line as "If there were
>    no activity of Ishvara, then how would there be action in the world."
>                   ^^^^^^^
>    This interpretation would be consistent with advaita. As you said,
>    the rest of the chapter is typically advaitic and its treatment
>    of the waking and dream states is similar to GauDapaada's.

Here's my take on the verses in mAnasollAsa. I will state here that I was
unable to follow some of the words in the verses, though overall the sanskrit
is reasonable simple. So I have used Sri Alladi Mahadeva Sastri's translation

         ayaM ghaTo.ayaM paTa ityevaM nAnApratItishhu |
         arkaprabheva svaGYAnaM svayameva prakAshate | (1.22)

         [ In all our cognitions of the external objects, such as are expressed
           in the words `this is a pot', `this is a cloth', it is the
           consciousness, forming the very nature of the self, which manifests
           itself, like the sun's light. ]

         jnAnaM na chetsvayaM siddhaM jagadandhaM tamo bhavet.h | (1.23)

         [ If consciousness were not self-manifested, then the universe would
           be blind darkness. ]

I'll leave the above three lines since it's not very relevant to the current

The vArtikakAra further asks in the same verse:

         na chedasya kriyA kAchit.h vyavahAraH kathaM bhavet.h || (1.23)
         [ If there be no activity whatever in him, how can any one be spoken
           as the doer of an act? ]

prima facie view: The vArtikakAra says that activity is a part of brahman
Answer: Not so, since the shruti says that Atman is partless and the
        vArtikakAra confirms it by saying `nira.nshaH' in 3.21.

pfv: Then the vArtikakAra says that activity is inherent in brahman like the
     heat in the fire.
Answer: No, That view is refuted by the vArtikakAra, in the next verse:

         kriyA nAma parispandapariNamasvarUpiNi |
         spandamAne bahirGYAne tada.nkuravadudbhavet.h || (1.24)

         [ Activity, which is either motion or change of condition, becomes
           manifested as an offshoot of consciousness moving towards the
           external. ]

Activity is only an off shoot of the _consciousness moving towards the external_
by the statement `spandamAne bahirGYAne' etc. In order to drive the point home
he then defines the manifestations of activity, which seemingly exist, in
the following verse:

         utpadyaprApyasa.nskArya vikAryopAshrayA kriyA |
         karoti gachhatyunmArshhTi chhinattIti pratIyate | (1.25)

         [ Activity manifests itself in connection with a thing to be produced,
           or reached, or ceremonially regenerated, or modified in form, as we
           say, he makes a thing, he goes to a place, he wipes off a
           sacrificial twig, he cuts a twig asunder. ]

The vArtikakAra then clarifies who the beings are that seem to act, and that
shiva himself is the sarvAtman of all. He also comments on the various types of
beings, the omniscient (i.e., brahma and the like ) and those who are not
(devas, men and the like). He then classifies the different kinds of bodies,
in case of beings with bodies (i.e., animals, men, etc)

         shivo brahmAdideheshhu sarvaGYa iti bhAsate |
         devatiryaN^manushhyeshhu ki.nchijGYAstAratamyataH || (1.26)
         jarAyujo.aNDajashchaiva svedajaH punarudbhidaH |
         ete chaturvidAH dehAH kramasho nyUnaUnavR^ittayaH || (1.27)

         [ Siva manifests himself as the Omniscient in the bodies of Brahma
           and the like; and in devas, lower animals and man, he manifests
           himself with a finite knowledge of various degrees. There are four
           kinds of bodies, the womb born, the egg born, the sweat born and the
           earth born, - arranged in their descending order. ]

Then he affirms that activity is indeed by mAyA only:

         brahmAdistambaparyantA svapnakalpaiva kalpanA |
         sAxAtkR^ite.anavacchhinnaprakAshe paramAtmani || (1.28)

         [ When the Paramatman of infinite light is intuitively realized,
           all creatures from Brahma down to the lowest plant melt unto an
           illusion like unto a dream. ]

i.e., he affirms that only the paramAtman exists and all the beings which seem
to engage in activity are an illusion only. When the beings who seem to act
themselves are unreal, what then about their activity? Further support from the
vArtikakAra in the later chapters:

         kAraNaM kArya.nmasho.n.ashii jAtivyakti juNI guNaH |
         *kriyA kriyAvAn*ityAdyAH prakAshasyaiva **kalpanAH** ||  2.12

         [ Cause and effect, part and whole, genus and individual, substance
           and attribute, *action and agent*, and others like these are the
           **imaginary** forms of the one light ]

The Atman is also spoken of as partless, changeless and *unmanifested* (6.27),
(nirvikalpaH, nirvikAraH, *nirAbhAsaH*)

         tasmAtprakAsha evAsti paramArthanirUpaNe |
         bhedapratItirmithyaiva mAyayA.a.atmani kalpitA || (8.9)

         [Therefore, on investigating supreme truth, we find that the light
          alone exists. False indeed is all the notion of difference in Atman,
          caused as it is by mAyA ]

Since Atman is _unmanifested and there is no action and agent_, the verse about
activity being an offshoot of the consciousness moving towards the external
(1.24) is a figure of speech only, intended for the ignorant who are still
bound by the notions of causality, and to lead them to the truth gradually.

The vArtikakAra then quotes a verse from the mahAnArAyaNa upanishhad (aNoraNIyAn
etc) and the rudra prashnaH to drive home the point.

         aNoraNIyAnmahato mahIyaniti vadavAk.h |
         rudropanishhdapyetaM stauti sarvAtmakaM shivam.h || (1.29)

         [ Vedas speak of him as smaller than an atom and greater than the
           great and the Rudra Upanishad too extols Siva as the sarvatman, the
           self of all. ]

pfv: The verse 1.23 has a defect. The vArtikakAra should have stated that
     "There is no activity in brahman. So how can anyone be spoken of as the
     doer of an act?" instead of "If there be no activity whatever in him, how
     can any one be spoken as the doer of an act?" He makes the mistake of not
     stating the actual fact, i.e., "There is no activity in Him" before
     questioning the validity of the common perception "There is activity".
     Thus he suffers from the defect of being unclear.
A: No, for in the previous verses he has shown that all is brahman, and all
   acts which are perceived are by mAyA only. He gives the example of a man who
   becomes a king in his dream, etc. He also quotes gauDapAda to reinforce
   this fact in 1.13. Thus the absence of action is implied in the previous
   verses and hence there is no defect of being unclear.

The summary of the verses is this: There is no activity in the paramAtman. So
how can activity said to be exist if it doesn't inhere in him? The answer is
that activity seemingly manifests as an offshoot of the consciousness moving
towards the external. The various types of activities and the doers which are
commonly perceived are elaborated. However there is in reality, no action or
agent, cause or effect or any manifestation of shiva. That these seem to exist
is by mAyA only. This mAyA cannot be affirmed as real or unreal. (The last
anirvachanIya concept is stated in 8.13, though the same name is not used)

The statements the vArtikakAra makes can be supported by reasoning and shruti.
I have not gone into that because the question here is what the vArtikakAra
actually means. Moreover my post has already got too long :-).

[ ... ]

>   Same here. I have to find out more about Kashmir Shaivism, before I
>   make further comments. I have read that Abhinavagupta did not explictly
>   deny the reality of the world, as advaita does. Perhaps there is a
>   connection between kriyaa being in Brahman (Shiva) and this. If Shiva
>   is engaged in the activity of creation, preservation, and destruction of
>   the world, then denying the reality of the world would mean denying the
>   kriyaa of Shiva.

I skimmed through the lectures of Swami Lakshmanjee and he affirms that the
Kashmir shaivites hold the world to be real. He actually finds fault with the
advaitins for saying that the world is unreal (i.e., a product of mAyA) and no,
he is not talking about the world in the so-called vyAvahAr-ic sense!
More on this later.

Some more comments about the hymn:

I forgot to mention the last time that one strong reason for saying that there
is influence of Kashmir shaivism, is the use of the word `pratyabiGYa'. I guess
the use of the word kriyA also points to such influence. But it seems as if he
is actually _refuting_ Kashmir shaivism, by rejecting activity in brahman and
affirming that the phenomenal existence is by mAyA! In any case it is
considered that sha.nkara (or whoever the author was) has infused mantra
shakti into the hymn and the hymn is treated as such in the advaitic circles.
While the hymn is mainly for gaining knowledge, incidental benefits like being
freed of certain diseases, etc are also said to occur due to this mantra shakti.

In the recent times HH shrii abhinava vidyAtIrtha svAmigaL, asked one of his
disciples, shrI Subbaramayya to write a detailed commentary on the hymn. The
author, has made a study of the various commentaries and sub-commentaries on
the hymn and a two volume publication was planned. I got the first volume on my
recent trip to Sringeri. It is huge (~700 pages) with lots of details from
various upanishhads and other advaitic texts. I think the second volume hasn't
been published yet. I have only skimmed through the book, but it promises to be
interesting an interesting read.

shrii ramaNa maharshhi also held the hymn in high regard and has translated it
into Tamil for the benefit of devotees. Once he explained to one of his
disciples (Sundaresa Iyer, I think) how all non-advaitic systems are refuted in
a brief 8 verses! He lectured him for a whole day on how it is so!
Unfortunately for us, this was neither recorded nor reconstructed by the


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