Still Confusion regarding Shankara's comments
ahudli at APPN.CI.IN.AMERITECH.COM
Mon Jan 27 09:02:10 CST 1997
I will try to explain what Shankara says in his commentary on
Giitaa 2.16 from a logical and grammatical perspective.
The sentence "this is a pot" may be represented as
something that exists and is qualified by "potness"
Here, everything that is a property of a pot is lumped together
in one property called "potness." For example, this potness may
include properties such as "being made from clay", "having a smooth
texture", "capable of holding water", etc.
We may go one step further and say,
something that is qualified by existence and potness
Actually, the Navya Nyaaya school of Gangesha would just say
1) "qualified (or limited) by existence and potness"
If we now consider the sentence, "this is a cloth",
it would be translated or more precisely cognized as,
2) "qualified by existence and clothness"
If we consider the sentence, "this is a blue lotus",
it would be translated or cognized as,
3) "qualified by existence, blueness, and lotusness."
We can now see the common cognition of all the three objects.
1) qualified by existence and potness
2) qualified by existence and clothness
3) qualified by existence, blueness, and lotusness
What is the common cognition here? Obviously, the qualifier
"existence." This is what Shankara is saying in his commentary.
In any cognition, there is a consciousness which is immutable
(na vyabhicharati) and there is a consciousness which is mutable,
(vyabhicharati). So any cognition can be expressed as:
qualified by existence and ... (a mutable part)
Existence (sat) is the immutable part of the cognition.
The opponent's further objection in the same discussion can also
be answered. The objection is that when the pot ceases to exist,
the real (sat) also ceases to exist. But existence (sat) is taken as
an adjective to the substantive, pot. When the substantive ceases to
exist it is illogical to say that the adjective too ceases to exist.
Only, the adjective is not manifest, or it may be manifested in
some other object, such as the cloth.
This adjective is Brahman! At any time, past, present or future,
Brahman is either unmanifest, in the sense of the upanishhad saying,
sad eva somya idam agra aasiit.h
(In the beginning, O dear one, only this Existence was!)
or Brahman manifests itself as the world.
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