[Advaita-l] : ONLY ONE PLACE - AdhyArOpa-apavAda

Stig Lundgren slu at chello.se
Wed May 28 12:03:16 CDT 2003

Jay Nelamangala wrote:

> I was informed by some of my friends in the other list that
Advaita uses
> adhyArOpa-apavAda  to interpret Veda.
> But Sri VedavyAsa has made it mandatory that we use "samanvaya"
> interpret and understand Veda.   The concept of Samanvaya
itself comes
> not from any particular Vedantic school,  but comes from

Yes, but then how to make this coherent doctrine out of the
Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita? Which is the best
way to get this samanvaya? There´s no question that the
interpretation of the shastras should aim at logical coherence
and harmony, but how? The advaita tradition makes use of the
principle of adhyaropa apavada in order to harmonize the texts of
the prasthana traya. In this sense, adhyaropa apavada is not
contradicting samanvaya (harmony, coherence), but instead is a
method in order to gain this samanvaya.

According to Adi Shankara, adhyaropa apavada is the method of the
knowers of the true tradition. In Bhagavad Gita Bhashya (13.13)
he says:

"For there is the saying of those who know the true tradition,
'That which cannot be expressed (in its true form or directly) is
expressed (indirectly) through false attribution and subsequent

In his commentary on Brihadaranyaka (Brihad. Bh. 4.4.25) he
explains the method of adhyaropa apavada as follows:

"Whoso knows the Self, thus described, as the fearless Absolute
(brahman), himself becomes the Absolute, beyond fear. This is a
brief statement of the meaning of the entire Upanishad. And in
order to convey this meaning rightly, the fanciful alternatives
of production, maintenance and withdrawal, and the false notion
of action, its factors and results, are deliberately attributed
to the Self as a first step. And then later the final
metaphysical truth is incalculated by negating these
characteristics through a comprehensive denial of all particular
superimpositions on the Absolute, expressed in the phrase
'neither this or that'. Just as a man, wishing to explain numbers
from one to a hundred thousand billion (points to figures that he
has drawn and) says, 'This figure is one, this figure is ten,
this figure is a hundred, this figure is a thousand', and all the
time his only purpose is to explain numbers, and not to affirm
that the figures ARE numbers; or just as one wishing to explain
the sounds of speech as represented by the written letters of the
alphabet resorts to a device in the form of a palm-leaf on which
he makes incisions which he later fills whith ink to form
letters, and all the while, (even though eh point to a letter and
say 'This is the sound so and so') his only purpose is to explain
the nature of the sounds referred to by each letter, and not to
affirm that the leaf, incisions and ink ARE sounds; in just the
same way, the on real metaphysical principle, the Absolute, is
taught by resort to many devices, such as attributing to it
production (of the world) and other powers. And then afterwards
the nature of the Absolute is restated, throught the concluding
formula 'netiher this or that', so as to purify it of all
particular notions accruing to it from the various devices used
to explain its nature in the first place."

Best wishes
Stig Lundgren

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