[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge -3

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 11 09:53:47 CST 2008

                           3. Knowledge is Continuous

{We are discussing the topics as they appear in the Vedanta ParibhASha of Dharmaraja

Continuity of the Knowledge: According to advaita Vedanta, knowledge of an object
perceived via the senses is considered as ‘vRitti’ or mental state’ in the mind, which
gets illumined by the consciousness. Similar to the idea that an object outside is seen
due to the reflection of some light falling on the object, the mental state is also
‘seen’ , when it is illuminated by the light of consciousness. These statements are made
intentionally in passive voice, since consciousness while it is self-luminous, does not
actively illumine anything.  On the other hand, objects in its presence get illumined. 
It is similar to moon getting illumined by the Sun, while the self-shining Sun does not
actively do illumination of anything.  Knowledge of the object ‘out there’ is complete,
when the associated ‘mental state’ gets illuminated. That constitutes the objective
knowledge. When we are knowledgeable, we say, ‘I am conscious of the object’.  Hence
objective knowledge is defined as being ‘(a) conscious of object’s existence and (b)
conscious of the attributes of the object that are perceived through sense input’. 
Objective knowledge is only attributive knowledge since senses can measure only the
attributes of the object and not substantive.  Substantive for all objects according to
Vedanta is Brahman only. Objects are only naama and ruupa (ruupa includes all other sense
perceptions) projected on Brahman.  In fact, it is important to recognize that the
existence of an object is also confirmed by the knowledge of its existence.  Until a
conscious entity establishes the existence of an object, object’s existence is not
established.  Object is not a self-existent entity, since it is not self-conscious.  Does
the object exist if I am not conscious of it or if I have no knowledge of it? Who is
going to establish its existence if no conscious entity is conscious of it? Hence we can
say existence of such an object is anirvachaniiyam or mathematically an inderminate
problem. The reason is simple. We have already defined that knowledge of an object
involves removal of ignorance that is coving it. Until the ignorance is removed, the
knowledge of its existence is also not established.  Ignorance is removed only when it is
illumined by the light of consciousness. Hence conscious entity has to be there to
recognize its existence and have its knowledge. Ignorance is anirvachaniiyam or
indeterminate. It is again similar to the pitch dark room case where the existence of any
object is not established until one turns the light on and see.  Existence of any object
in a dark room is an indeterminate problem until one turns the light on to see and
establish its existence. 

Hence, the perception of an object external to the mind is the same as the illumination
of the resulting ‘mental state, vRitti’. The illumination of an object continues until
another object is perceived or its ‘mental state’ is known. Perception of next object
brings in its associated ‘mental state’ into the light of consciousness.  Thus, the light
of consciousness continues to illumine the sequential objects or more correctly the
sequential mental states, that come in its preview.  It is similar to the light shining
on the stage continuously as the scenes continue to change.  The objects are in sequence
but the illuminating consciousness is continuous.  Knowledge and consciousness are
considered identical in Advaita Vedanta. Knowledge is therefore continuous and hence
eternal too. If it becomes discontinuous, it absence, for it to be known, has to be
illumined by consciousness.  That is I have knowledge of the absence of objects too. The
last statement will have a bearing when we examine the deep sleep state. When there is no
objects to be perceived, either darkness is perceived as in the case of a pitch dark room
or ignorance that covers the knowledge of the objects is perceived, since we have already
stated that knowledge of every object is covered by ignorance. Knowledge continues as
knowledge of objects or knowledge of darkness or knowledge of ignorance.  Even when
Objects change, the vRittis assocated with the objects change, but knowledge remains the
same and continuous. As discussed before continuity is not a concept of time, it is
beyond the time concept.  It is ever present, eternal ‘NOW’. Knowledge is ever existent

Hari Om!

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