[Advaita-l] mithyA from archives

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Sun Nov 25 23:05:02 CST 2007


Thanks a lot Sri Amuthan for your response. But once again I must
mention that your points do not answer the basic question I was

What is AtmavicAra? Whether the generic neti-neti or more specific
methods such as the pancakoSha prakriyA of the taittirIya, AtmavicAra
involves successive dis-identification of the Atman with what is
categorized as anAtman (body, mind, etc). This is quite consistent
with a dualistic system like sAMkhya/yoga as well.

To put it simply, a sAMkhyan would also say that the purusha, which is
shuddha-caitanya, is not the body, mind, etc. But he continues to
accept prakRti as a separate ontological principle.

advaita-vedAnta, in addition to such dis-identification, also requires
the affirmation of the Atman as the substratum for *all* phenomena. So
clearly, the advaitic AtmajnAna requires a clear understanding of the
mithyAtva of all phenomena. This understanding of mithyA is critical
for establishing even the absence of sajAtIya bheda for the Atman, as
otherwise one could end up in system with multiple Atman-s (each of
which is not the body, mind, etc).

To say the same thing in another way, establishing Atma-brahma-aikya
*requires* the mithyAtva of all phenomena, as the preliminary
definition of brahman is that it is the cause of the jagat (the very
second brahmasUtra).

If a discussion of the dRShya was unimportant, we would not have had
all the philosophizing over pariNAmavAda, vivartavAda,
dRShTi-sRShti-vAda and so forth.

> within the limits of accuracy achievable by observation and reason
> that some substratum (like say a basic set of fundamental particles)
> is what the perceived universe is ultimately made of, the existence of
> this substratum itself cannot be known until pramAtRtvAdi guNAs are
> superimposed on the Self. in this sense, the mithyAtva of the dRSya is
> not affected by any scientific theory.

What you are saying is that the dRShya can be called so only when
pramAtRvAdi guNa-s are superimposed on the Atman. But this effectively
implies that mithyA is a purely epistemological notion. Any
epistemology presumes a dRk and so this notion of mithyA does not lead
us anywhere. The question remains as to whether the ontological
non-duality of the Atman (and hence its aikyatA with brahman) is
affected by the existence of fundamental particles.

If there is such a thing as a fundamental particle, it will have
svarUpa *as a particle* (and not as brahman). This seems to negate the
shUnya of the mAdhyamika-s (because the particle is no longer
niHsvabhAva) as well as the mithyA of the advaitins. OTOH, if we say
that such a particle is not mithyA, then how do we establish

Note that the sAMkhyans dont seem to be seriously affected by this.
They could include the fundamental particles under their various
categories of prakRti.

> it should be kept in mind that the mithyAtva of jagat is not a logical
> starting point for understanding advaita. it is not an axiom with
> which we start; it is a statement of the nature of the world as
> _j~nAnIs_ perceive it.

Again, this point seems to imply purely epistemological non-duality.
As the j~nAnI does not superimpose knowerhood (pramAtRvAdi guNa-s) on
the Atman, the known world effectively becomes mithyA. It seems to
reduce advaita into an elaborate idealism.

I have some vague ideas on how this situation can be resolved, but it
would be great if some of the learned members of this forum could
probe this issue a little more. Surely there are enough physics &
chemistry PhDs on this list!!

The simple question I am asking is this: assuming that fundamental
particles exist, do they compromise the ontological non-duality of the
Atman? If not, why not?


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