Exegesis of mahAvAkya-s - III

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Mon Aug 7 17:41:16 CDT 2000

[Sorry for the hiatus, I was on vacation the past few weeks]

The three steps in analysing mahAvAkya-s

The words "that" and "thou" are used to denote different
things in ordinary life. "That" would refer to something
remote whereas "thou" is immediate to the person (i.e, one is
not remote to oneself). So how can an equation be made
identifying these two seemingly disparate things?

sureshvarAchArya explains in Ma 2.15-2.16a

sAmAnAdhikaraNyAkhyas-sambandhaH padayoH-iha |
visheshhaNa-visheshhyatvaM sambandasyAt.h padArthayoH ||
laxya-laxaNa saMyogAt.h-vAkyam-aikyaM cha bodhayet.h |

The relation of the words here is [what is] called grammatical
[The understanding] of the meaning of the words is from the
relation of the qualifier and qualified,
And unity is taught by the sentence by equating the implied and

The three steps have also been explained by sureshvarAchArya.

Step 1: relation of sAmAnAdhikaraNa:

The two words, tat.h and tvam.h, bear the relation of
sAmAnAdhikaraNa (refer Ma 3.15-a above, NaiSi 2.54s and NaiSi
3.3). Grammatically, adhikaraNa means placing two substantives
in apposition, which is precisely the situation in tattvamasi.
Since they are placed in apposition, tat.h and tvam.h cannot
really refer to two different things. Now, adhikaraNa also
means substratum. sAmAna implies same-ness, and hence
sAmAna-adhikaraNa means having the same substratum. Thus,
sAmAnAdhikaraNa means that the two different words refer to
essentially the same thing (refer also Ma 3.18). The situation
is similar to interpreting the compound nilotpala -blue
lotus-. Since the two words nIla and utpala are placed in
apposition, it means blue-ness and lotus-ness inhere in the
same substratum, namely the blue-lotus.

Some advaitins, like AchArya maNDana mishra, say that the
knowledge of unity produced by the mahAvAkya-s are not
immediate and cannot produce liberation. Immediate knowledge
is achieved only through prasa.nkhyAna, i.e., repeated
meditation on such texts. But, sureshvarAchArya points out
that such a reasoning is incorrect. The fallacy of the
prasa.nkhyAnavAdin-s is clearly seen when the other two steps
are understood.

Step 2: relation of visheshhaNa-visheshhya

visheshhaNa is the qualifier and visheshhya is the qualified.
In the sentence the two words tat.h and tvam.h mutually
qualify each other (NaiSi 3.10). The individual self (tvam.h)
is qualified by brahman (tat.h), thus saying that the
individual self is actually free from suffering
(nirduHkhitvam.h). Conversely, brahman is qualified by the
individual self, which shows that brahman is immediate and the
innermost self, and not something remote.

Here an objection may arise: the relation of qualifier and
qualified can exist only if brahman has attributes. For
example, a lotus can be red or blue. Further, the color blue
could belong to some object other than a lotus. But brahman is
known to be only one, ekameva-advitIyam; and without
attributes, nirguNam. Moreover, the jIva is the sufferer
-duHkhin- and goes through painful transmigratory existence.
How is this resolved?

Step 3: relation of laxya-laxaNa:

Although there is the relation of visheshhNa and visheshhya,
the words is not used in the sense of an object having
different attributes, as in a lotus being blue or red. They
are used in the sense of laxaNa-laxya. laxaNa is the
implication and laxya is what is implied. To give an example:
when the ether in the pot and the ether outside it are
equated, there is the relation of visheshhaNa-visheshhya. But,
there is really one ether which has no attributes. The
relationship is understood by laxya-laxaNa-artha. I.e, the
incompatible elements between the pot ether and the other
ether, namely the idea that ether is constrained within and
outside the pot, is discarded - ghaTetarakhyariva (see NaiSi
3.9). Similarly, the wrong notions that the individual self is
the duHkhin, limited by the body, senses, etc, and that
brahman is remote, not the immediate self, etc, are both
sublated by the sentence.

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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>From ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG Tue Aug  8 01:03:59 2000
Message-Id: <TUE.8.AUG.2000.010359.0000.ADVAITAL at LISTS.ADVAITAVEDANTA.ORG>
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2000 01:03:59 +0000
Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Liberation and citta vRtti nirodha

Anand Hudli <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> This is an intriguing passage indeed. We may have to dig deeper
> by reading what the vArtikakAra has to say here. So far my understanding

The vArttika on this section runs into thousands of verses, yet there
is one verse which captures the essence of the issue - pratyag jnAne
nirudhyante citta tad vRttayo yataH abhyupetya etad asmAbhir ucyate ...

> is: the tyAga-vairAgya-Adi qualities that Shankara refers to
> actually indicate the sAdhana-chatuShTaya qualifications that one
> must have in the first place to know the Self! So what is Shankara
> saying here? He is saying that upon knowing the Self, those qualities
> should not be thrown out the window! One should keep cultivating those

Precisely. As the bhAshyakAra has referred to the sentence, vijnAya prajnAM
kurvIta (BU 4. 4. 21) in this context, let us look at the corresponding
commentary - prajnAkAraNa sAdhanAni saMnyAsa Sama dama uparama titikshA
samAdhAnAni kuryAd ity arthaH. Towards the end of naishkarmyasiddhi,
sureSvara says, amAnitvAdi sAdhanaH yatnatas syAt (4. 70). See also the
verses 4. 71-73, where these qualities continue to remain important after
the rise of proper jnAna. The reference is to the gItA verse on amAnitvam
adambhitvam etc. (13. 7).

As the vArttika is very voluminous, naishkarmyasiddhi can be more easily
studied, to get the gist of what sureSvara says. See the sambandhokti to
verse 1. 52 - vairAgyaM, tato mumukshutvaM, tatas tad upAya paryeShanaM,
tatas sarva-karma-tat-sAdhana saMnyAsas, tato yogAbhyAsas, tataS cittasya
pratyak-pravaNatA, tatas tattvamasyAdi vAkyArtha parijnAnaM, tato
'vidyocchedaH, tataS ca svAtmany eva avasthAnam. There is clearly a
significant place for Yoga practice, so far as it leads to the calming of
the mind and making one receptive and qualified for understanding the
Upanishads properly. But citta vRtti nirodha should not be mistaken as the
ultimate state of liberation.

Given the emphasis on saMnyAsa, what are the other people supposed to do? We
get an answer for that too. In naishkarmyasiddhi 1. 51, gItA verse 6. 3 is
quoted - Arurukshor muner yogaM karma kAraNam ucyate, yogArUDhasya tasyaiva
SamaH kAraNam ucyate. That is, karma yoga is the step before one takes up
dhyAna yoga, but karma is given up along the process of scaling the peak of
Yoga. And such Yoga is also a preliminary mental discipline before the rise
of proper Self-knowledge. As one can see, this is a highly disciplined
approach, which has been preserved over the centuries.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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