advaita-siddhi 15 - BrahmavAda and shUnyavAda

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 1 17:48:37 CDT 2000

BRIEF RECAP: MadhusUdana started by accepting the definition
of unreality (of the world) as "pratipanna-upAdhau traikAlikanishhedha-
pratiyogitvam.h" (please see advaita-siddhi 10). Unreality is that
which is subject to absolute negation (negation for all times) in the
substratum where it is cognized. Now the opponent tries to show that
the unreality of the world defined by the advaitin actually amounts
to admitting that the world is a chimera (a vastu-shUnya) or a
purely fictitious thing that is only imagined, but without a real
basis. Is the world according to advaita a vastu-shUnya, a mere nothing
or is it something with a real basis? Let us find out.

[Other articles in this series may be retrieved by searching for
"siddhi" in the subject line.]

 advaita-siddhi text:

 nanu evamatyanta-asattvApAtaH pratipannopAdhau traikAlikanishhedha-
 pratiyogitvaM hyanyatra-asattvena saMpratipannasya ghaTAdeH sarvatra
 traikAlikanishhedhapratiyogitvaM paryavasitam.h ; anyathA teshhAM anyatra
 sattvApAtAt.h, nahi teshhAmanyatra sattA saMbhavatIti tvadukteshcha ;
 tathAcha kathamasadvailaxaNyam.h, nahi shashashR^iNgAderito .anyad-


 (Objection): Being the counter-positive (pratiyogin) of the absolute
 negation (for all three periods of time) in the very substratum where
 it (the thing that is unreal, mithyA) is cognized has thus been defined
 as being unreal (mithyA) (by you) and it is absolutely unreal (completely
 nonexistent). From this, it follows that things of the world, such as a
 pot, which are not existent in substrata other than where they are
 cognized, are eternally negated in all substrata! Otherwise, they would
 have to be existent in substrata other than where they are cognized.
 (But) you have said that they do not exist in other substrata.
 Accordingly, how is it that they (things of the world) are different
 from nonexistence (asat)? This (the world) is certainly not different
 from purely nonexistent things such as a hare's horn, (according to
 your view).

 The gist of the argument here is that if the unreality of a thing
 consists in its being negated absolutely (for all periods of time) in
 the very substratum where it was cognized, then it must be admitted
 that such a thing is negated absolutely everywhere. Otherwise, it
 would mean the thing appears somewhere other than the substratum
 where it was cognized. But this is denied by the advaitin. Therefore,
 the unreal thing stands negated everywhere and for all times. So it
 is no different than a chimera which is also absolutely absent everywhere.

 advaita-siddhi text:

 nacha nirupAkhyatvameva tadasattvam.h; nirupAkhyatvapadenaiva
 khyAyamAnatvAt.h | nApyapratIyamAnatvamasattvam.h; asato .apratI-
 tau asadvailaxaNyaGYAnasya-asatpratItinirAsasya-asatpadaprayogasya
 chAyogAt.h | nacha-aparoxatayA apratIyamAnatvaM tat.h; nitya-


 (Objection continued:) Nonexistence (asat) cannot be undefinable
 (nirupAkhya). Because, (the moment you say it is nirupAkhya), it becomes
 defined by the (very) word nirupAkhya! Nor can you say asat is what
 cannot be cognized. If asat were not cognized then there would be no
 cognition of anything that is different from asat. And there
 would be no sublation of cognition of a non-existent thing.
 And it would not be possible to use the word "asat". Further,
 you cannot define asat as that which is not cognized as
 being directly perceived because this would make the definition
 too wide (having the defect of ativyApti) due to the inclusion
 of eternal but supra-sensuous things.

 iti chenmaivam.h |

 If this is what you say, we say no (ie. your objection is not

 We will see how MadhusUdana answers this in the next part. But first,
 let us see what BrahmAnanda (the GauDabrahmAnandI commentary) has to say
 here. Essentially what the opponent is claiming here is that even a
 chimera (alIka) that is absolutely false (fictitious such as a hare's
 horns) is also the ontological status of the world as per the second
 definition of mithyAtva of the advaitin. If the claim holds, then we
 will have proved that the world is not sadasad-vilaxaNa, different from
 sat and asat, but rather purely asat. In that case, the advaitin will
 have proved something other than what he intended to in the first place,
 thereby committing the fault of arthAntara.

 GauDabrahmAnandI -

 BrahmAnanda cites the Yoga sUtra of Patanjali:

 shabdaGYAnAnupAtI vastushUnyo vikalpa - Yoga sUtra

 Vikalpa is the chitta-vR^itti that is devoid of any real object and
 that arises from the word (shabda) and cognition (GYAna).

 Patanjali lists five kinds of chitta-vR^itti's or modifications of the
 mind -  1) pramANa, vR^itti arising from means to right
 knowledge, 2) viparyaya, vR^itti arising from misconception or illusion,
 3) vikalpa, vR^itti arising from purely imaginary things, 4) nidrA,
 vR^itti during sleep, and 5) smR^iti, vR^itti arising from memory.

 The three factors to be considered in any cognition arising from
 words are 1) shabda, the word, 2) artha, the denotation of the word,
 and 3) GYAna (or vR^itti), cognition that results from the word.

 What happens in the case of a vikalpa such as that associated with a
 purely fictitious thing expressed by words such as "shashashR^inga" or
 "hare's horn" is that we hear the word alright and there is some
 cognition produced in the mind, but there is no corresponding denotation.
 We cannot point out a thing in the world that represents the word
 "hare's horn."

 On the other hand when we hear the word "gauH" or "cow", apart from the
 shabda that we hear and the cognition of the word or the vR^itti in the
 mind, there is also a denotation of the word, the object which is indeed
 a cow.

 To be more precise, every word or shabda may have associated with it
 a *representation* in the mind of the listener. Further, there may also
 be a denotation of the word which represents the actual object that
 corresponds to the word. In the case of a chimera (alIka), however, there
 may be a word and its representation in the mind, but there is no
 denotation or correspondence with an object.

 This counters the objection by the opponent who says that a chimera
 may be expressed by words (ie. is upAkhya), and has a cognition
 (chitta-vR^itti) corresponding to it. What brahmAnanda is saying
 is that surely these two aspects will be there for even a chimera
 but it is vastu-shUnya, ie. devoid of any denotation, devoid of any
 real basis.

 ataeva "vR^ittayaH paJNchatayyaH pramANaviparyayavikalpanidrA-
 smR^itaya" iti vR^ittiGYAnAnAM paJNchadhA vibhAgena viparyaya-
 rUpAt.h sadrUpa-adhishhThAnavishhayakAt.h bhramAtpArthakyena
 vikalpaH pAtaJNjalasUtra evoktaH |

 It is precisely for this reason that Patanjali's Yoga sutra
 says that the chitta-vR^ittis are of five kinds - pramANa or
 right knowledge, viparyaya or misconception, vikalpa or imagination,
 nidrA or sleep, and smR^iti or memory, and thus distinguishes between
 viparyaya which is (the same as) bhrama (illusion) with Reality (sat)
 as the basis (adhishhThAna), and vikalpa.

 (viTThalesha-upAdhyAyI commentary on the gauDabrahmAnandI) -
 nanu bhramasyApi sadavishhayakatva-avisheshhe
 kathaM vikalpaH pR^ithagityata Aha sadrUpeti |
 idaM rajatamiti bhrame .api shuktyavachchhinnachaitanyarUpaM
 sadevedantvena bhAsata iti bhAvaH |

 In order to counter the argument: bhrama (illusion) is  also
 without any real content and so how can vikalpa and bhrama be different?,
 (BrahmAnanda) says sadrUpa, etc. (ie. that bhrama has sat as its basis but
 vikalpa does not have such a real basis). Even in the illusion "this is
 silver" (in regard to the illusion of silver in nacre), Sat, which is
 consciousness limited by nacre, shines as "this." This is the purport.

 ViTThalesha is answering another possible objection. The opponent may
 argue as follows. In the illusion of silver in nacre, the nacre is no
 doubt the basis of the illusory silver. But the basis nacre itself
 is unreal according to the advaitin. So how can the illusory silver be
 any different from an entirely fictitious thing such as a hare's horns,
 something that is imagined without a real basis. In reply, ViTThalesha
 says that even in the silver-in-nacre illusion, the basis nacre is not
 absolutely false because the nacre is itself an illusion on the absolutely
 real sat (Brahman). Therefore, a vikalpa is different from a bhrama.

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