[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 12

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 10 17:37:38 CDT 2008

We are discussing the Vedanta ParibhASha of Dharmaraja Adhvarindra, as
I understand. 

            12. Perception at Individual and Global levels

We now examine the perception from two levels: one is from the point of
individual or jiiva’s level and the other from the point of totality or
Iswara or God’s level, i.e. individual and global levels.  In the
process we also define individual, jiiva and Iswara or God.  VP says
perception is again two fold. One is the perception due to witnessing
consciousness in the individual level (jiiva - sAkshin) and the other
from the witnessing consciousness at God’s level (Iswara - sAkshin) or
global level.  

Jiiva and Jiiva-sAkshI:

At individual level, we differentiate two things – one is individual,
jiiva and the other is witnessing consciousness of the individual
(jiiva-sAkshin). These two can be referred as two aspects of jiiva, one
from the transactional level and the other from the transcendental
level. Ontologically they are not the same.  Jiiva or individual is
defined as the consciousness limited by the mind and through the mind,
the body, etc., the BMI. When jiiva does not know his transcendental
nature, we say that he is covered by ignorance about his true nature. 
Since knowledge is eternal, it gets revealed only when the vial of
ignorance is removed through appropriate pramANa.  Ignorance is
beginningless (anaadi) but ends when vial of ignorance is removed and
the knowledge takes place. Self-ignorance can be removed by
self-knowledge alone, since they are opposite to each other, just as
chemistry ignorance is removed by chemistry knowledge.  Chemistry
knowledge cannot remove physics ignorance.  On the same token, no
amount of scientific objective investigation and reasoning can remove
the ignorance of the subject, the self. Objective investigation reveals
only objective knowledge. The pramANa that can remove the ignorance of
one’s own self alone can reveal self-knowledge.  
In the state of ignorance, consciousness as though (a) reflected in the
mind and (b) identified with it constitutes empirical self or
transactional self, jiiva.  Any reflected consciousness is, in general,
constitutes the knowledge of thing that is reflecting, since we now
become conscious of the thing that is reflecting, just as the reflected
light from an object reveals that object that is reflecting the light.
Jiiva involves two aspects. One is the formation of the reflected
consciousness in the mind (actually intellect part of the mind which is
the locus for knowledge in the mind), and the second aspect is the
identification with that as ‘I am this’ where this stand for intellect
to start with. 

Vedanta discusses how the all pervading Brahman became a jiiva. After
the creation of both subtle and gross bodies, Upanishads declare that
Brahman entered into it (the statements are referred to as
‘anupravesha’ shruti statements). Since Brahman is all pervading
consciousness, it cannot enter into anything other than itself since
there is nothing other than itself; nor one can say it entered into
itself as it makes no sense to say I enter into myself.  Hence Advaita
Vedanta explains the so-called ‘entering’ as when the gross and subtle
bodies that are formed are conducive to express life, the Brahman
itself manifests as jiiva.  Anupravesha shruti declares the fact that
Brahman himself became multiple jiiva-s by identifying with the local
upandhis, thus establishing the identity of Brahman with jiiva-s, as
illustrated later by mahavaakyas. Here the formation of the reflected
consciousness in the intellect constitutes the entering of Brahman –
this is also called formation of ‘pratibimba’ (reflection of the
original bimba) or cidAbhAsa. The reflecting medium (purity of the
intellect) determines the quality of the reflection. Formation of the
reflected limiting consciousness is only one part.  The second part
involves identification with the Upaadhis as ‘I am this’.  The
identification involves ownership, as ‘I am this’ and ‘this is mine’
etc. With the identification, ‘I am’ ‘as though’ gets qualified by
‘this’, ‘this’ being intellect, mind (the emotional part) or the gross
body as well as all physiological functions associated with it. Hence
VP says ‘jjiva’ is a qualifying attributive limiting reflected
consciousness of the mind along with notion of ownership of those
qualifications as mine. All the above verbiage really means that the
upAdhis (BMI) are limited and the reflection therefore is limited, even
though Brahman is limitless. All pervading consciousness gets reflected
in the mind, and hence the reflected or formed pratibimba is limited;
it is like the Sun getting reflected in mirrors or pools of water. This
is termed as limiting reflected consciousness in the mind.  When it
identifies with the attributive mind (mind includes BMI – since
identification is a thought in the mind as ‘I am this’), it becomes the
owner of the BMI attributes as my attributes. Hence, body is short, I
am short; body is weak, I am weak; intellect is dull, I am dull; and
mind is depressed, I am depressed, etc. The ownership crystallizes the
jiiva notion. Looking back at VP statement now, Jiiva constitutes the
qualifying attributive limiting reflected consciousness in the mind
along with the ownership of these attributes. 

The original consciousness that gets conditioned in the BMI is called
sAkshI or witnessing consciousness.  Even though Brahman is limitless
or unbounded, the condition of the BMI makes it appear as though sAkshI
is bounded. To illustrate this, let us consider clay forming into pot.
When a pot is formed we now have pot space. When we move the pot from
place A to place B, the space relative to the pot also moves, even
though space is immovable and all pervading and limitless.  It is
similar to a fly that is flying inside the train compartment as though
moves along with the passenger at the same speed of the train. Pot
space appears to be constrained by the walls of the pot, but attributes
of the pot do not belong to the pot space. Hence VP says the difference
between a jiiva and jiiva-saakshii can be described simply as the
farmer is its transactional nature and the later is its transcendental
nature. In the former case the mind that is limiting the consciousness
becomes a qualifying attribute as Jiiva says ‘I am this’.  Hence Jiiva
is called qualifying attributive limiting reflected consciousness. In
the case of sAkshI the mind is only a limiting adjunct but not
qualifying adjunct.  It is a witnessing consciousness untainted by the
witnessed mind. In the jiiva’s case the mind with its attributes due to
sAtvic, rajasic and tamasic guNas forms the attributive content of
jiiva because of its identification with the mind. This identification
occurs, Vedanta says, because of not knowing my true nature which is of
transcendental nature. A conscious entity getting identified with
limiting inert entity, mind, is jiiva as reflected consciousness. The
conscious entity just witnessing the limiting mind (BMI) is sAkshI
To illustrate the difference, VP gives two examples. For jiiva – the
example given is ‘the colored jar is transitory’. Here the color is the
qualifying attribute of the jar. Jar identifying itself as ‘I am a
colored jar’ – identification with a limiting name and form with
attribute of color is the notion of ‘jar-jiiva’ and it considers itself
as transitory since the name, form and attributes are transitory.  This
is the transactional view of the jar.  Suppose if the jar recognizes
that I am clay in the form of a jar with a color, then jar has
transcendental understanding. It has no identification or ownership
with the form or color, and therefore does not feel it is transitory
ether. It realizes that now I am in the form jar, I can be in other
forms, the forms are only for transactions and my nature is pure
formless colorless clay. VP gives another example of sAkshI – it is
conditioned by the upAdhis but without identification – it is like
space in the inner ear. Space is nothing to do with ear but constrained
space within the walls of the inner ear constitutes part of the ear. In
the same way witnessing consciousness is although all pervading, the
limiting constraints of the mind (BMI) constitutes the sAkshI
chaitanyam which illumines the particular mind that it is associated
with it.  It is like saying that the space in the jar is limited,
although the space is all pervading and the pot-space is connected to
outer space. 

Shree Vidyaranya says in AnubhutiprakaSha the jiiva, jiiva-sAkshii and
Brahman can be considered as consciousness as though expressed in three
different ways: (a) vishiShTa caitanyam (b) upahita caitanyam and (c)
nirupAdhika caitanyam. Limiting reflected consciousness identified with
attributes (visheShaNa) of the upAdhi is jiiva caitanyam or vishiShTa
caitanyam.  Limiting illuminating consciousness (it is actually not
doing the illumination also) constrained by uaPadhis (with no
identification with the qualities of the upaAdhis) is upahita caitanya
or sAkshI caitanya.  The lost one is without any upAdhis, that is, when
jiivanmukta drops his upaadhis during videha mukti. There is no
difference in last two other than the constraints of the upAdhis, just
as there is no difference between pot-space and the outer-space other
than constraining pot walls. Self-realization is the recognition by
jiiva that I am the illuminating consciousness, sAkshI, than the
reflected qualified or attributive conscious entity as ‘I am this’. 
sAskhI ‘as though’ constrained by the upAdhis, is called jiiva-sAkshI,
since it can witness or illumine the upAdhis that it appears to be
constrained – just as we say, space in our house is limited, even
though space is limitless. VP says this jiiva-sAkshI in each individual
is different, for the limiting upAdhis are different, just as spaces in
different pots are different due to constraining walls of the pots.  
Hence for this reason, what one individual, Caitra, knows, another
individual, Maitra, cannot recollect.  Similarly if one individual
realizes the other individual does not, since as we discussed before,
realization involves recognition that the limiting reflected
attributive consciousness is nothing but the original unqualified or
attributeless conscious that is causing illumination and reflection.
That is vishiShTa caitanya is the same as upahita caitanya, in the
language of Shree Vidyaranya.  

Iswara and Iswara-sAkshI: 

Just as jiiva-sAkshI is consciousness with upAdhi-s as limiting
adjunct, Iswara-sAkshI or witness in God is the consciousness with mAya
as the limiting adjunct (mAya has been translated as cosmic illusion.
Since it is not an illusion for those who do not know that it is an
illusion, we retain the word mAya itself).  Unlike in the jiiva’s case,
since mAya is singular, the limiting adjunct is also singular. Hence,
witnessing consciousness in God is also singular.  In shruti texts some
times plurality is used. For example – it is said “The supreme Lord is
perceived as having manifold forms through His powers of mAya
(mAyAbhiH)” – Here the plurality corresponds to the diversity of powers
that are in the mAya (mAyAbhiH). Or the plurality can also be with
reference to three guNas – serenity (sattva), activity (rajas) and
inertia (tamas) that mAya comprises. The unity of mAya can be inferred
from the use of singular number, supported by the simplicity of the
explanation of shruti and smRiti statements such as – ‘one should know
the mAya is nothing but prakRiti or nature (mAyAntu prakRitim vidyAt
mAyinantu maheswaram and the ruler of that to be Great Lord – Sve. Up.
IV-10), ‘Salutations to that unknowable Embodiment of Knowledge who
being established in the heart, a yogin transcends the mAya, the all
pervasive nescience – tarati avidyAm vititAm hRidi yasmin nivEshitE|
yogI mAyAmamEyAma tasmai vidyAtmanE namaH|| - Vishnu PuraNa V-27-15),
similarly the other shruti’s statements. 

Thus, in all the statements in both shruti and smRiti, singularity has
to be understood for simplicity and there are no pluralities of mAya.
The apparent plurality in mAya is implied and not plurality of mAya. 
Iswara-sAkshI is the upahita caitanyam or limiting consciousness with
limiting adjunct of mAya just as jiiva-sAkshI is upahita caitanyam or
limiting consciousness with jiiva-upAdhi as its limiting adjunct. It is
beginningless, since the limiting adjunct mAya is beginningless. Having
defined the Iswara-sAkshI, VP now defines the Iswara. The definition
follows in parallel to jiiva caitanyam.  Just as jiiva is the limiting
consciousness identified with the limiting adjunct, upAdhi, Iswara or
Lord is defined as limiting consciousness identified with the limiting
adjunct mAya. Thus with qualifying attribute of mAya it is Iswara or
God or Godhead and without the qualifying attribute but just with the
limiting adjunct, mAya, it is Iswara-sAkshI.  Otherwise there is no
other difference between the two in terms of having different
attributes. One is vishiShTa caitanya and the other is upahita

Since mAya is triguNAtmikam that is possessing three guNas – sattva,
rajas and tomo guNas – the supreme Lord, although one, is designated by
the terms such as BrahmA (four-headed), ViShNu and Maheswara or Shiva,
according to the dominating guNas present – activity (rajas), serenity
(satva) and inertia (tamas), which are the limiting qualifying
attributes of the mAya.  

Q: If the witness in God is beginningless, then how is one to explain
the beginning of the reflection on the part of the Supreme Lord just
before projecting the universe, mentioned in the texts like, “It
visualized, let me become many, Let me be born (as many) – tad aikshata
bahu syAm, prajAyeya” (Ch. Up. VI-2-3). There seems to be a beginning
for Iswara sAkhitvam or the witness in God. 

A: The parallelism with jiiva-sAkshi is used to explain.  Just as owing
to the sense organs and the mind in contact with the objects, different
mental states or vRittis arise in the mind, which forms the limiting
adjunct of the individual jiiva or self, similarly, owing to the past
karma or actions of all beings that are ready to germinate, the
projection in the order of priorities based on karma of those beings,
particular states (in analogy with vRittis at individual level) arise
at the cosmic level.  “Now this has to be projected or originated
(brahma), now this has to be maintained (Vishnu) and now this has to be
destroyed (Shiva)” etc, arise in mAya, which is the limiting adjunct of
the Supreme Lord.  Since these states have beginning, the consciousness
reflected in them is also described as having a beginning.

Creation, sustenance and annihilation are in fact a cyclic process.
When the cosmic sleep occurs, all the beings and the world go into
potential form or unmanifested form. One can say that Iswara is in yoga
nidra, just as when jiiva goes to deep sleep all the world of objects
and the attributive knowledge goes into potential form or unmanifested
form or pure vAsanas state. Vasanas which are nothing but consolidated
ignorance is illuminated and hence ‘I do not know’ is the only
knowledge without any place-wise, time-wise or object-wise
discriminative attributive knowledge. mAya at the cosmic level and
ignorance at the individual level with names and forms in potential or
unmanifested form constitute deep sleep states at each level.  When
Iswara and jiiva get up they start projecting, Iswara at cosmic level
and jiiva at the individual level forms the waking state with the
unmanifested forms manifesting based on previous knowledge before they
went into unmanifested forms. Thus micro and macro levels operate in
parallel.  Only difference is jiiva has ignorance as the cause for
projection with his own vAsanas forming the basis for projection while
for Iswara he does not have his own vAsanas – only the collective
vAsanas of all beings form the basis for projection.  Hence Iswara is
not affected by the projection and is called mAyAvi or wielder of mAya
as his power of projection.  Jiiva is ignorant of his own nature and
therefore he gets affected by the projection when that projection is
taken as real. 

Knowledge reveals itself:

When there an object ‘pot’ right in front of me and when I open my
eyes, I cannot but see the object, if the mind is not preoccupied. 
Sense input is immediate and vRitti of the object formed based on the
sense input is also immediate.  When vRitti is illumined by the light
of consciousness and reflection of that light by vRitti constitute the
knowledge of the vRitti. Now not only I know that ‘this is pot’ and I
also know that ‘I know that this is pot’. That is besides having the
knowledge of the pot, I also know that I have the knowledge of the pot.
 Pot knowledge is known by the limiting reflecting consciousness of the
pot-vRitti. If we ask what reveals knowledge of the pot knowledge, we
can only say that knowledge is self-revealing.  Knowledge of an object
requires illumination by the light of consciousness, but we do not need
to illumine the illuminated knowledge. What it means is knowledge is of
the nature of illumination and one does need illumine another
illumination.  We do not need a light to see the light.  That is, it is
the very nature of the knowledge to reveal the nature of the object and
also reveal itself.  Knowledge is self-revealing and does not need
another knowledge to reveal it, besides the fact that it leads to
infinite regress. Hence Citsukaachaarya says that knowledge is
immediately apprehended without being objectified since it is
self-luminous. Hence when I say, ‘here is a pot’ the pot knowledge is
apprehended along with the knowledge ‘I know here is a pot’ – here we
are essentially separating the knowledge of an object and cognition of
the object.  

We will next address the nature of the errors in perception. 

Hari Om!

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