[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge-13

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 4 09:35:51 CDT 2008

We are continuing after a long break, the series on Vedanta ParibhASha (VP) of Dharmaraja Advarindra (DA), based on my understanding. We are still dealing with pratyaksha pramaaNa or direct perceptual means of knowledge.  Here I am going to summarize the essence of what we have learned so far.
The fundamental statement of VP is that perceptual knowledge is nothing but pure consciousness. Immediacy follows from the condition of perceptuality which is stated as oneness of the consciousness of the subject that perceives the object and conditioned consciousness expressed through vRitti of the object in the mind.  This was accounted as follows: The object that is perceived manifests as vRitti or a thought in the mind of perceiver. Brahman, the all-pervading consciousness is the material cause for the object and therefore manifests (as though) as limiting consciousness in the form and name of object, where the form includes all the associated attributes of that particular object (shabda, sparsha, ruupa, rasa, gandha- sound, touch, form, taste and smell) that is perceived. The perception through the senses involves perception of only the attributes of the object since Brahman, the substantive cannot be perceived as separate from the perceiver. The
 attributive sense input forms vRitti, which is reflected by the saakshii caitanyam or witnessing consciousness.  The knowledge is complete when the light of consciousness reflected by the mind as the subject who is perceiving the object, and the reflected consciousness of the vRitti, the contents of the objects in terms of sense input, become one – expressed as the identity of subject consciousness and the object consciousness. The sense input provides the qualifying attributes of the object perceived – as this a pot.  Similarly the reflected consciousness of the mind (cidAbhaasa) with its own attributes forms the subject, the knower of the object as I am the knower.  The perceptual knowledge said to be complete when the reflected consciousness of the subject(we are only dealing with reflected consciousness since absolute consciousness is all pervading and has no differences of any kind – no sajaati, vijaati and swagata bhedaas) and the reflected
 consciousness of the object become one.  The statement of VP follows that perceptual knowledge is the same as pure consciousness and this forms the basis for the perceptuality condition. Immediacy of the perception of the object follows since the associated vRitti of that object that is reflecting the light of consciousness has the attributes of the object perceived as its contents.
The process of perception can be understood if we look at the process objectively.  The mind that is perceiving the object through the senses is also an object in the sense that it is jadam or inert.  According to Vedanta it is nothing but matter only – ‘annamayam hi manaH’ – mind is made up of matter’ – Ch. Up 6-5-4.  Mind becomes dynamic due to the reflection of consciousness in it or by it. Any object becomes known by the reflection of light. Similarly the mind becomes known by the consciousness reflected by it and the reflection depends on the purity of the reflecting medium.  When the attributes of the external object (external to the mind) are brought in by the senses, they form vRitti, a perturbation or a thought in the mind. The vRitti, as it forms in the mind, also get reflected in the light of consciousness that is ever present. We have now two reflections: one, the mind itself as an object that constitutes the subject since it has
 capacity to learn and store the information, and the vRitti of the object which is a local perturbation of the mind. These two reflections constitute the subject and the objects in terms of perception. Both reflections are arising from the same source, witnessing consciousness that I am.  The connection between the two is established via perceptual knowledge and that is stated as perceptuality condition where consciousness of the subject is united with the consciousness of the object. Interesting point is the knowledge is complete when the reflected consciousness as the subject unites with the reflected consciousness as the object. There is no specific ‘matter’ here, other than the fact the quality of the reflection depends on the purity of the reflecting medium.  When I say – I see a pot there, what is seen therefore is reflecting consciousness of vRitti that is formed in the mind containing the attributes of the object brought in by the senses,
 seen by the reflecting consciousness in the mind. ‘Is there really a ‘pot’ out there?’ if one asks, then we can say that at the transactional level, yes there is pot out there.  But if one wants the truth behind that statement, what is seen is only the vRitti of the mind and ‘pot is there’ only when vRitti is there and vRitti is there only when the mind is there or awake. Hence without the mind and the vRitti that is formed (vRitti of the object will not form if all the senses do not bring in the attributive knowledge), presence of a pot cannot be established out there. It is there or not therefore becomes an indeterminate problem – just as in the deep sleep when the mind is not there to reflect consciousness; the world including pot is not established. Pot is there, only because I see it.  If I do not see it, is it there? – I do not know and therefore I cannot tell if it is there or not. Others can tell when they see it but I should
 have faith in their statements and that becomes a separate means of knowledge or indirect knowledge or hear-say and not direct knowledge.  When I do see the pot through the sense input, the attributes of the pot that senses bring in are not my creation. Hence there is no real pot out there for me to see, when I see. The pot is as real as the mind that sees.  But neither the pot nor the mind can see each other to establish their existence. Seeing takes place when the consciousness reflected in the mind unites with the consciousness reflected by vRitti of the object in the mind.  Thus both subject and the object of perception are reflected consciousness of that witnessing consciousness.  Pure consciousness can not be seen since seeing involves duality of seer and the seen. Hence at the level of perception, perceptual knowledge has to be understood as pure consciousness alone but perceived as the subject, perceiver and object, perceived. 

In the case of internal perceptions that is the objects perception are not external but internal to the mind  - that is they are emotions like fear, pleasure, anger, desire, etc and also include conceptualized objects by the mind – the attributes are there with their corresponding vRittis. Only difference between them and the external objects is that their attributive content does not arise from external sources via the senses. These internal perceptions also come under direct perceptions as we experience them directly and immediately which are characteristics of perceptual knowledge. They fulfill the criteria of perceptuality established earlier by VP. 

Knowledge reveals itself: (This segment was posted last time but reposted for continuity) 

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(cognition of the pot), I also know that I have the knowledge of the pot (knowledge of the cognition 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 (cognition of the pot) 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.  It is similar to if an object is seen by its reflection of sun light falling on it, I do not need to another light to see the reflected light from the object.  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 as two separate aspects although the cognition of the object and
 the knowledge of that cognition follow immediately.   

Hari Om!

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