[Advaita-l] adhyAropa - apavAda in the SrImadbhaagavatam

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Feb 8 05:09:11 CST 2011

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः

In the Bhagavadgita bhAShyam Shankaracharya has quoted a verse: तथा हि
संप्रदायविदां वचनम् 'अध्यारोप-अपवादाभ्यां निष्प्रपञ्चं प्रपञ्च्यते’ इति ।
[Thus is there the saying of the knowers of the tradition of teaching the

1. Anandagiri in his gloss to the above bhashya says: mithyArUpamapi
jneyavastu jnAnopayogi ityatra *vRddhasammatimAha... *(elders in the
tradition of dissemination of Knowledge hold the 'adhyaaropa-apavAda' method
as the one to be followed.)

2. The commentary 'ChaturdharI' by NIlakanTha, who has commented on the
Mahabharatha, for the Gita verse 13.13 ends by quoting the above nyAya, by
virtually quoting Shankara's sentence therein: tathaa hi sampradAyavidAm

3. The GUDhArthadeepika of Sri Madhusudana Saraswati too, for the verse
13.14 of the Gita commences with quoting this nyaaya saying: ADHYAAROPA
APAVAADAABHYAAM....iti *nyAyam*anusRtya sarvaprapancha adhyArOpaNEna....

4. Sri Dhanapati Suri, the author of the authoritative gloss on the Bhashya,
'BhAshyOtkarSha deepikaa' for 13.13 says: taduktam

We see from the above that this method is there in the tradition much before
Shankara's advent.  Much of the criticism of non-advaitins to Shankara's
quoting this verse and the Advaitic system having this as its central method
stems from failing to recognize that such is the method found in the
scripture, especially finding an explicit mention in the SrImadbhAgavatam.
Also, the very method has not been understood by the critics.

In the Bhaagavatam the 11 canto constitutes the UddhavagItaa, a teaching of
Tattva to Uddhava by Lord Krishna.  Here, in the verse found below is the
perhaps best expression of the  adhyAropa - apavAda method:

मां विधत्तेऽभिधत्ते मां *विकल्प्यापोह्यते *त्वहम् ।
एतावान् सर्ववेदार्थः शब्द आस्थाय मां* भिदाम् ।
मायामात्रमनूद्यान्ते प्रतिषिध्य* प्रसीदति ॥ 11.21.43

What is the ultimate purport of the Veda-s? This question is answered by the
Lord, Sri Krishna, in the 'uddhavagItA', chapter 16, last verse.  He says:

// Me they (the Veda-s) enjoin, and Me express, and *what is stated*therein,
*only to be refuted*, is also I. This is the import of the entire Vedas.
With Me as their substratum the Vedas *tentatively state duality as an
illusion,* and *refuting it at the end *and are satisfied. //

The 'adhyAropa - apavAda' scheme of the Scripture is perhaps most explicitly
and clearly stated in this verse.  The ultimate Truth is the Non-dual
Brahman, without any trace of duality, dvaita. This Truth, Advaitam, being
very subtle and most difficult to grasp, the Vedas adopt an ingenious way of
teaching it.  The method adopted by the Vedas to teach this is that at the
initial  stage the teaching of duality is taken up in order to cater to the
practice of ritualistic discipline as a form of devotion, also called karma
yoga.  This will be possible only when there is a multiplicity, available
for the practitioner.  He sees the means, the instruments, as different from
him and also the goal which is also different from him. A favourite
expression of Shankara is: अविद्याकामकृतक्रियाकारकफलभेदबुद्धिः. By sincerely
practicing the scripture-enjoined duties as a devotional offering, he gains
purity of mind.  This is the role of the karma kAnDa of the Vedas.

Next, having become relatively pure in his attitude and thinking, he gains
the capacity to contemplate on a higher being, by way of upAsana.  This
contemplation helps him gain concentration of the mind which is naturally
prone to scattered thinking.  The mind becomes subtle and sharp thereby
qualifying to enter the domain of the JnAna kAnDa for Brahma vichAra.

The subject matter of the karma kAnDa is karma no doubt.  However, this
karma, involving the difference between the doer and the means and the end,
is only Brahman, the Ultimate Truth, appearing as all these different
entities namely the doer, the means, the instruments, and the end, phala.
The Lord has stated this very explicitly in the Bhagavadgita verse:
brahmaarpaNaM brahma havirbrahmaagnau *brahmaNaa* *hutam* |
brahmaiva tena gantavyaM brahmakarmasamaadhinaa || 4.24 ||

[This is the vision of Advaita the Realized person, Jnani, has.  He has the
vision of that Truth which alone appears as the various elements that go to
accomplish a yajna. The GitA teaching of vivartavAda is very explicit

At the upAsana stage too, it is this one Brahman that appears as the upAsaka
and the upAsya and the various loka-s that are attained as a result of the
upAsana, if the upAsana is performed with a desire of attaining other worlds
as the end.  This 'bheda' that is duality, is of the nature of jiva-Ishwara
bheda, jiva-jiva bheda, jaDa-Ishwara bheda, jiva-jaDa bheda and jaDa-jaDa
bheda.  It is only in the availability, the possibility, of this (kalpita)
bheda that the disciplines of karma and upAsana are possible.  In abheda,
advaita, these two disciplines have no way of accomplishment.

So far the Veda has engaged in the process of 'adhyAropa', the
superimposition of the duality, the five bheda-s, even while the Non-dual
Brahman is the Sole Reality.  Now, when the jnAna kAnDa is the focus of the
Vedas, the process shifts to the 'apavAda' stage.  That  Non-dual Truth,
Brahman, that was presented in the karma-upAsana stage as endowed with
multiplicity, attributes, etc., is now presented in Its true nature, as the
Sole, non-dual Reality, free from all the superimposed five types of bheda-s
and all the attributes.  This is called 'apavAda', the negating of the
earlier deliberately attributed nature.  That the attributed,
adhyAropa-state, is avidyA, ignorance, and the attribute-free, apavAda-state
alone is vidyA, knowledge is also brought out by the Lord in a teaching to

विद्या आत्मनि भिदाबाधः ...11.14.40  [That is Knowledge which is the
destruction of the idea of multiplicity in the Self.]

>From the above two references of the Uddhava gItaa of the SrImadbhAgavatam,
it is clear that the One Self is seen, due to ignorance, as the world of
plurality.  It is owing to this natural, ignorant, view of the jiva-s the
Scripture, the Veda, deliberately superimposes duality in the earlier stages
of karma and upasana so as to 'remove the thorn of avidyaa-kalpita-bheda by
another thorn of buddhi-pUrvaka shAstra kRta bheda kalpana'.  Once the stage
is set for the delineation of the Non-dual Truth, advaitam, the 'thorn'
stated later is also discarded.  This is the apavaada. Thus we are able to
appreciate the words ' आत्मनि भिदाबाधः' ( destruction, negation, sublation,
of duality, bheda, IN the Self).  The Self is the substratum in which the
avidyA-kalpita bheda was ignorantly superimposed by the jiva who holds
himself a samsari. That the jiva is really Brahman is also taught by the
Lord Himself in the Bhagavadgita 7.5 by the word 'jeevabhUtAm'.  The Lord's
lower nature is the jaDa prakRti, mAyA which has manifested into the seen
world of duality, of names and forms, objects. The Lord's Higher prakRti is
the Conscious entity, the subject, the seer, the dRk of the dRshya jaDa
prapancha.  The Lord says that it is Brahman that lives the life of a
samsari in the Bh.Gita 15.10 'उत्क्रामन्तं स्थितं वापि’ verse.

Now, owing to vidyA, the Self is rendered free of the superimposition, of
both avidyA-kalpita and the shAstra-kalpita adhyAropita dvaita.

The Lord says in the ch.14 opening verse of the Uddhavagita:

यो विद्याश्रुतसंपन्न आत्मवान्नानुमानिकः ।
*मायामात्रमिदं* ज्ञात्वा ज्ञानं च मयि संन्यसेत् ॥ 11.14.1.

//One who is endowed with scriptural erudition culminating in realization,
who has attained to the Self, and has not mere theoretical knowledge, should
surrender knowledge (*with its means*) to Me - knowing the universe to be
but an *illusion*. //

Here again, one can see that the 'means' namely the karma/upasana duality
that helps in attaining the culmination in realization of the Non-dual
Truth, is spoken of as belonging to the world which is 'mAyAmAtram', an

The expression विकल्प्यापोह्यते  in the first quoted verse is significant.
'vikalpya' is the presentation, by the Veda, of the One as many (vikalpa-s).
So, 'vikalpya' means 'adhyAropya'.  'apohanam' is the negation, refutation,
apavaada, of that which has been shown as many. The expression एतावान्
सर्ववेदार्थः shows that 'adhyAropa - apavAda' is what constitutes the Vedic
method. The expression भिदाम् मायामात्रम् shows that the 'bheda' is only an
illusion.  This culminates in the teaching of the Chandogya Upanishad 6th
chapter: सदेव सत्यम् established on the analogy 'मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम्’ and
all duality as
वाचारम्भणम् , having their basis in mere speech.  The Lord has said this too
in the SrImadbhaagavatam (Uddhavagita):

पञ्चात्मकेषु भूतेषु समानेषु च  वस्तुषु ।  11.13.23

All the beings are made of the five elements and are non-different from each
other on this count.
Also, in the first verse quoted the expression ’अनूद्य अन्ते प्रतिषिध्य’
states that the 'bheda' spoken of in the Veda is only a tentative
acceptance, for the sake of the samsari-s to practice karma and upasana.
Thus 'anUdya' has the meaning of 'adhyAropa' and the word 'pratiShidhya'
means negating, 'apavAda'.

To conclude, taking the words of Karl H. Potter, as quoted by Sri Siva
Senani Nori today //....so the highest view of all is that of *apavAda*,
that reality is "not this, not this" (neti, neti). //

Om Tat Sat

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