[Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 1, Issue 24

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed May 28 13:57:50 CDT 2003

"Jay Nelamangala" <jay at r-c-i.com> wrote:

> >From the point of view of Advaita,  what were the short comings of such a
>"samanvaya"  technique provided by Sri VedavyAsa for it to ignore
>samanvaya and adopt adhyArOpa-apavAda  instead of samanvaya while
>interpreting Veda?.

It is not correct to think that samanvaya is ignored and adhyAropa-apavAda 
is substituted instead. It is also not correct to think that they are 
alternative means of interpretation of Veda.

adhyAropa-apavAda is simply a word used to describe the technique adopted in 
certain scriptural texts.

Take for example, purusha sUkta's "ajAyamAno bahudhA vijAyate". In the same 
sentence are two contradictory attributes - one of being born many-fold 
(bahudhA jAyate) and of being unborn (ajAyamAnaH). The former is adhyAropa 
or superimposition of the attribute of being born, and the latter is 
apavAda, or refutation, by clarifying that the purusha is essentially 
unborn, ajAyamAna.

As another example, take gItA 13. 12-13. sarvataH pANipAdaM etc. describes 
brahman as having faces, eyes, hands and feet everywhere, and as having 
entered everything. sarvendriyaguNAbhAsaM says that brahman also appears as 
all the sense organs. This is adhyAropa. The apavAda follows in the term, 
sarvendriya-vivarjitam. The same brahman is now said to be devoid of all 
organs. And despite having entered everything, brahman is said to be 
unconnected to anything - asaktaM.

Note that in both examples given above, adhyAropa-apavAda works within the 
same scriptural sentence or passage. It is not that adhyAropa is done in one 
text and apavAda is done in some other text. Both examples serve to show us 
how it is that brahman is nir-guNa. Scripture proceeds by first 
superimposing guNa-s as characteristic of brahman and then refuting the 
notion that the said guNa-s are essential or intrinsic to brahman.

The purpose of samanvaya is altogether different. Here, the idea is to 
extract a single harmonious meaning from a variety of texts that talk of the 
same subject. As far as the first four sUtra-s of the brahmasUtra are 
concerned, the subject is to investigate that (yataH) which causes the 
origin, sustenance and destruction (janmAdi) of the universe (asya). That is 
said to be brahman, which is to be known (jijnAsA). The sUtra also says that 
this knowledge of brahman is obtained from the scriptures (SAstra-yonitva). 
However, if you examine different texts, you will find brahman, Atman, 
prANa, vAk, manas, Ananda and various other entities described as the one 
cause. The principle of samanvaya says that it is erroneous to take these 
descriptions as mutually contradictory. Through all the varied entities 
named as cause, it is clear that all the texts agree that the cause is only 
one, not two or more. That one cause, brahman, is described in many 
different ways, depending on context, in different texts. Thus, samanvaya is 
the technique used by the sUtra-kAra, and by Sankaracarya, the bhAshya-kAra, 
to get the true meaning and intention of different texts that appear to 
speak in different voices.

I hope the difference between the two terms is clear.

>Where in prasthAna-traya do we hear about adhyArOpa-apavAda?

paingala upanishad explicitly mentions adhyAropa-apavAda. Sankaracharya also 
quotes an older teacher of vedAnta, a sampradAyavit, in gItAbhAshya 13.13, 
who mentions adhyAropa-apavAda.


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