[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 27

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 27 10:06:25 CDT 2008

We are discussing the Vedanta ParibhASha of Dharmaraja Adhvarindra, based on my understanding. 
                   Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge – 27

Inferential knowledge is classified into two types; inference for one self and for others.  We have discussed so far how the process occurs for oneself.  We have vyaapti that provides the concomitant relation between the hetu, the mark, and saadhya, the inferred knowledge. The invariable concomitant relationship was established by observation of co-existence of hetu and saadhya and non-observation of any violation of their co-existence. It involves both deductive and inductive logic in generalization as invariable concomitance based on particular observations.  For example an invariable concomitant relation between the smoke and fire is established that states that ‘wherever there is smoke there must be fire’ – which is a generalization of particular observation that whenever there is smoke in the kitchen it is invariably associated with fire. The knowledge of this relation is stored in the memory as latent knowledge.  When I see smoke on a distant
 hill, immediately I remember the concomitant relation between the smoke and fire and infer that there must be fire on the distant hill. This is the process is defined as vyaapaara involving mental association between the smoke and the fire using the vyaapti that has been established. 

In communicating this inferential knowledge to others and for them to reach the same inference, a logical sequence of procedure is to be adopted and these sequential steps are referred to in western logic as Syllogism. According to Nyaaya School, there are five steps involved in convincing others so they also arrive at the same inferential knowledge. The steps involved are:
(a)The proposition to be proved – pratijnaa – ex. The hill has fire.
(b)Reason (hetu) for this conclusion --ex. Because I see smoke on the hill.
(c)Vyaapti – concomitant relation with-   -ex. wherever there is smoke there is supporting example (udaharaNa)	fire, as in kitchen.
(d) Application of vyaapti 		  ex. Hill is smoky, smoke is always
				     with fire. 
(e) Conclusion reached (nigamana)	   ex. Therefore the hill has fire. 

According to advaita all the five steps are not necessary.  In principle, one can reach the same conclusion by following either the first three steps or the last three steps. The two additional components are therefore unnecessary, says VP. 

Establishment of Unreality (mthyaatvam) of the Universe through Inference:

Advaita establishes the unreality of the universe using (a) shaastra pramaaNa, (b) inference or anumaana based on shaastra called shaastriiya anumaana, and (c) inference based on loukika or worldly examples.  For the third case, Advaita establishes a vyaapti or concomitant relation based on the worldly examples to arrive at the unreality of the Universe. The discussion of the first two is postponed to later when we take up the verbal testimony. 

Vedanta as pramaaNa establishes that Brahman is the absolute truth. The word Brahman itself means infiniteness, which by its very definition is advitiiyam or one without a second.   If there is a second that is different from Brahman it would limit Brahman; violating the infinite nature of Brahman. Therefore there cannot be anything other than Brahman.  Hence if one sees any thing or things or universe of objects, they cannot be real but only apparent. Thus whatever I see, it cannot be real, as per Vedanta. In addition, Brahman cannot be seen since Brahman is infinite or limitless, as seeing involves seer-seen duality, which, being mutually exclusive, limit each other.  If there is a universe that I see, it cannot be different from Brahman, since there cannot be anything other than Brahman. It cannot be the same as Brahman either since Brahman being infinite is part-less.  In addition, since I am seeing the universe, the substantive of the universe
 cannot be different from Brahman. Vedanta also says that Brahman is the material cause for the universe that I see.  Hence according to Vedanta the substantive of universe is nothing but Brahman.  But my senses which are limited cannot perceive Brahman, the substantive. Since I do not see the substantive of the universe, whatever I see and conclude need not be real. In addition, if the universe really does not exist then I cannot see the universe and transact with it. Since I am seeing and transacting with it, universe does not come under the category of non-existence either, like vandhyaa putraH or son of a barren woman. Hence Universe cannot come under real existent or cannot come under non-existent; it is called apparently existent or mithyaa.  

After establishing the nature of inference, in terms of the reason, hetu, the saadhya, the conclusion and vyaapti the concomitant relation between the hetu and saadhya, one can use the inference to establish the unreality of the universe.  What is seen as in the case of smoke forms the mark or hetu or reason for the inference. I see the smoke on the distant hill or I see the silver on nacre or I see the snake there on the path. Since these are perceptual knowledge based on the attributes perceived. Similarly I see the universe of objects with attributive contents. Perception of universe similar to perception of silver or snake forms the hetu or reason.  In relation to perception of silver where there is nacre, I take silver is real and in relation to perception of snake where there is rope, I take snake is real.  The reason for the error, as we discussed before is that due to some adventitious cause I am unable to see the reality of the object there or
 the substantive of the object there.  In the worldly examples the substantive of the silver is nacre and substantive of snake is the rope.  Thus errors in perception are recognized only when the reality of the substantive becomes known that is when the adventitious defects have been removed.  Here we have inferential knowledge with hetu, saadhya and vyaapti – hetu being what I see.  The concomitant relation connecting hetu with saadhya should be universal.  Based on these worldly (loukika) examples we establish a vyaapti that is universally applicable that ‘whatever the object seen is unreal, when we do not see or know the substantive, as in silver on nacre or snake on rope’. Thus we have a concomitant relation between what is seen vs what is real. Brahman is the absolutely real and is substantive for the universe. But as Brahman cannot be seen or known (as an object), whatever the object seen or known by perception cannot be real, using the
 vyaapti, that is established. 

In the perception of snake where there is rope, it is not that I see a snake on top of rope or I see snake as part of rope.  I see the snake where the rope is.  Thus I do not see snake and rope together.  This error is called adhyaasa or error of superimposition. The error arises only because I do not see the rope as rope. The reason I do not see the rope as a rope, because of some adventitious cause (poor illumination) I am unable to perceive all the attributes of the object that define the object precisely as rope and not as a snake. In the case of nacre also I am unable to see all its attributes but only see its partial attribute of silvery shining-ness. 

In the case of Brahman, being infiniteness, there is nothing other than Brahman to differentiate it from other things.  Hence Brahman cannot have any attributes, since attributes are those that differentiate one object from others.  Vedanta says Brahman is pure existence-consciousness-limitlessness – these are not attributes but they are its very nature or swaruupam, looking from the point of attributive universe.  When we say Brahman is the material cause of the universe, it becomes the substantive for all objects in the universe.  Since Brahman cannot be seen or known as an object (adreshyam), the substantive of the universe cannot be known or seen. Hence when we do not see or know the substantive and only see the universe of objects, using the vyaapti that whenever the substantive is not seen, whatever that is seen will be unreal since it gets sublated when one sees or knows the substantive, just as silver on nacre.  When once we know the
 substantive nacre, the silver seen is recognized as not real. Similarly once I know Brahman as substantive of the universe, I recognize that the universe that I see is not real. However, based on the vyaapti that whenever the substantive is not known or seen, the objects that are seen are not real. Since they are seen, they are not non-existent either since non-existent things cannot be seen.  With this background let us examine VP statements.

VP says we can prove the unreality of the universe, which appears to be other than Brahman. This is because Brahman being infinite and substantive of the universe, whatever that is seen is unreal and it is like seeing unreal silver in nacre. The nature of this error has already been discussed and established before when we were discussing the errors in perception. How can we prove the universe is unreal? How can we prove that silver is unreal where nacre is? How can we prove the snake is unreal where there is rope? It is very simple; the fact that what we see is not what it is proves that what we see is in error. Similarly Brahman is the substantive for the whole universe.  We are not seeing Brahman but universe with names and forms. That means, we are seeing something other than what it is. It is obvious then that the universe that we see is not real since we are seeing something different from what it is.  VP says this argument is a simpler than any

VP now provides a definition for unreal (mithyaa).  Unreality is something opposite to absolute non-existence. It appears to abide in whatever is supposed to be its substratum. VP says, the term ‘supposed to be’ is used to guard against absence of any true substratum and the term ‘whatever’ is used to protect any coexistence of the object and the substantive as two entities.  When I see silver where nacre is, ‘silver is supposed to abide in whatever substantive that is there (nacre)’ as I have no knowledge of nacre when I am seeing silver.  Similarly silver that I see is not separate from nacre for it to co-exist with nacre. Here there are no two objects silver and nacre for me to see silver.  It is silver alone I see where nacre is. Hence silver is mithyaa since what is there is not what I see. Hence VP uses the definition provided by Citsukhaachaarya in Citsukhii (I-7-39) that mithyaa is that which is counter positive (opposite) to the
 absolute non-existence and abides (or appear to exist) in whatever supposed to be its substratum.  In simple terms it is sat asat vilakshaNam, since it is seen therefore it is not absolute non-existence (asat) but not real (sat) since it is abiding in something other than itself, like silver in nacre. 

In the case of seeing the snake where there is rope, we have adhyaasa or error of taking something other than what it is due to incomplete attributive content due to adventitious defects.  Here the inference involved the vyaapti that whatever (object) seen is mithyaa if we do not know the substantive of the seen. Since Brahman, the substantive of the universe is not seen or known, the universe that we see is mithyaa. VP uses next another vyaapti or concomitant relation to establish by inference that universe that we see is mithyaa.  This involves establishing a vyaapti that whatever object has parts is mithyaa since the substantive Brahman has no parts and therefore cannot be broken into parts. 

Let us examine the cloth that we see. When we say it is a cloth, it appears to be real, since transactionally at relative level we use it as a cloth. Instead of cloth, What are there are cotton threads seen as a cloth. Cloth can be parted into threads that it is made up of.  Hence cloth is not a non-existent entity but an entity that abides in the threads. The cloth is there for us to experience but the truth of the cloth-experience is that it is nothing other than threads, which form the substantive for the cloth. If threads are removed, cloth cannot exist independent of the threads, while threads can exist independent of cloth. Thus by anvaya logic we have, cloth is thread is, while by vyatireka, we have cloth is not but thread is. Thus cloth becomes a dependent on threads while threads become independent of being a cloth. This is true for all objects that is made of up of parts. All objects that are made up of parts can be parted or de-assembled into
 their constituent entities which are more real than the assembled objects. All the qualities of the objects also come under the same category – they are not absolutely non-existent but exist as abiding in something other than themselves. We cannot say color abides in color; it abides in cloth while cloth itself abides in threads.  One can continue this process. The threads themselves are not non-existent but they abide in something other than themselves, the finer molecules, etc.  Ultimately all objects in the universe can be parted since they are made up of parts.  That which abides in something other than itself is mithyaa. Only ‘thing’ that is part-less and abide in itself is Brahman. Here we are using a loukika anumaana or worldly inference to say that whatever that has parts is mithyaa. Since it is not absolutely non-existent and at the same time it exists abiding in something other than itself. Thus using inference or anumaana we can
 establish using worldly examples that the universe is mithyaa or apparently real but really real. 

We address next some of the objections to the above inference. 

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