[Advaita-l] 'adhyasa' Demonstrated in the BhAgavatam - Part 1 (2)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Feb 24 06:47:24 CST 2011

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः
Sri Shankaracharya has demonstrated in the adhyAsa bhAShya that / how
'adhyAsa' is the cause of samsara.  In the BhAgavatam, BhagavAn Veda VyAsa,
through the medium of BhagavAn Krishna, demonstrates adhyAsa with a couple
of examples:

The uddhavagItA Chapter 17 concluding portions contain the relevant verses:

प्रकृतेः एवम् आत्मानम् अविविच्य अबुधः पुमान्।
तत्त्वेन स्पर्शसंमूढः संसारं प्रतिपद्यते॥५०॥

The ignorant man, failing to rightly discriminate thus  the Atman from the
prakRti, is deluded by the sense-objects and goes from birth to birth.

The adhyAsabhAShya words:  इतरेतराविवेकेन ...नैसर्गिकोऽयं लोकव्यवहारः is
what is meant in the above verse.

सत्त्वसङ्गात् ऋषीन् देवान् रजसा असुरमानुषान्।
तमसा भूततिर्यक्त्वं भ्रामितः याति कर्मभिः॥५१॥
Swayed by his past karma, a man through his attachment to sattva becomes a
sage or a god, under the influence of rajas, an asura or a man, and under
the influence of tamas a ghost or a beast.

नृत्यतो गायतः पश्यन् यथैव अनुकरोति तान्।
एवं बुद्धिगुणान् पश्यन् अनीहः अपि अनुकार्यते॥५२॥

Just as a man watching a band of dancers or singers imitates them
(spontaneously at least in the mind) so the Atman, even though without
activity, is moved to imitate the attributes of the buddhi (intellect).

Here the इतरेतर-अध्यासः is spoken of.  adhyAsa is अन्यत्र अन्यधर्मावभासः the
manifesting / perceiving of the attributes of object 'x' in object 'y' (and
vice versa too).  In this verse the attributes of the dancers/singers that
constitute the 'other' / different / object/ viShaya (for the one who
watches the performance who is really the viShayI / the subject) are taken
upon himself and he identifies himself with the dancers/singers and he too
engages in dancing/singing, at least in the mind. Even so, the Atman takes
upon itself, as though they are its own, attributes belonging to the
non-Atman, the anAtman, buddhi.  Atman is niShkriya, asanga.  Yet, the
kriyaa of the buddhi is superimposed on the Atman and one comes to think 'I
act/deliberate/think etc.

यथा अम्भसा प्रचलता तरवः अपि चलाः इव।
चक्षुषा भ्राम्यमाणेन दृश्यते भ्रमति इव भूः॥५३॥

As trees reflected in moving water seem to be moving also, and as, when the
eyes whirl, the land also seems to be whirling...so the movements of the
prakRti are superimposed on the Atman.

Here, (the analogy of) the person in a moving boat gets the illusion of the
trees on the bank of the river / or the reflection of the trees in the water
moving.  Sometimes one gets the illusion that though moving, he is
stationary and the trees, etc. though stationary, are moving.  One can
experience this illusion while seated in a stationary train in a platform
and suddenly the train starts moving.  The one seated in the moving train
gets the illusion that the platform/the shops/pillars/people there are
moving.  The movement, an attribute of oneself (the train) is
transferred/superimposed on the non-moving trees/objects.  This is also a
case of  इतरेतर-अध्यासः, अन्यत्र अन्यधर्मावभासः the manifesting / perceiving
of the attributes of object 'x' in object 'y' and the attribute of (being
stationary) the platform/shops, etc. on to oneself/train as one feels that
one is stationary (and only the platform, etc. is/are moving) at least for a
few seconds.

The above analogy is used by Shankaracharya in the Bhagavadgita bhashya

ननु कर्म कर्मैव सर्वेषां न क्वचित् व्यभिचरति -- तत् न, *नौस्थस्य नावि
गच्छन्त्यां तटस्थेषु अगतिषु नगेषु प्रतिकूलगतिदर्शनात्, दूरेषु चक्षुषा
असंनिकृष्टेषु गच्छत्सु गत्यभावदर्शनात् ,* एवम् इहापि अकर्मणि कर्मदर्शनं
कर्मणि च अकर्मदर्शनं विपरीतदर्शनं, येन तन्निराकरणार्थमुच्यते 'कर्मण्यकर्म यः
पश्येत्' इत्यादि।

//Objection: Is it not that to everyone action is action itself? Never is
there an exception to this.

Vedantin: That is not so, because when a boat is moving, motionless trees on
the bank appear to move in the opposite direction to a man on the boat; an
absence of motion is noticed in distant moving things which are not near
one's eyes. Similarly, here also occurs the contrary perceptions, viz seeing
action in inaction under the idea, 'I am doing',and seeing, inaction in
action,- because of which it is said, 'He who finds inaction in action,'
etc. in order to eliminate them (such mistaken notions).//

अत्र च कर्म कर्मैव सत् कार्यकरणाश्रयं कर्मरहिते अविक्रिये आत्मनि सर्वैः
अध्यस्तम्, यतः पण्डितोऽपि 'अहं करोमि ' इति मन्यते। अतः आत्मसमवेततया
सर्वलोकप्रसिद्धे कर्मणि *नदीकूलस्थेष्विव वृक्षेषु गतिप्रातिलोम्येन अकर्म
कर्माभावं यथाभूतं गत्यभावमिव वृक्षेषु यः पश्येत्, *..

//And here in this world, though action belonging to the body and organs
continues to be action, still it is superimposed by everyone on the
acitonless, unchanging Self, as a result of which even a learned person
thinks, 'I act.'Therefore, in action (karmaNi), which is universally
considered, erroneously, by all people to be inherent in the Self, like the
perception of motion in the (stationary) trees on the bank of a river- (in
that action) he who contrariwise finds the fact of inaction, like perceiving
absence of motion in those trees- (actually perceives / knows the true state
of affairs) //

Even the other analogy: चक्षुषा भ्राम्यमाणेन दृश्यते भ्रमति इव भूः used by
the Lord in the UddhavagItA has been used by Shankaracharya in some work
(UpadeshasAhasrI ?).  What is to be noted is that in all the cases the
common idea is that something that does not really happen is imagined to be
happening.  That is the crux of a bhrama.

The Lord concludes this short discussion:

यथा मनोरथधियः विषयानुभवः मृषा।
स्वप्नदृष्टाः च दाशार्ह तथा संसारः आत्मनः॥५४॥

As imaginations and dream perceptions are unreal, so also, O Uddhava, is the
relative existence of sense-experience of the Atman (unreal).

'Imaginations' = manoratha or reverie is one where a person, even in the
waking, indulges in thinking of a future event which may or may not be
possible to materialize.  In any case, the 'event' in his imagination is
never a real one in the real world.  For example, the persons involved in
the reverie will never, in the real world, attest to the happenings in the
imaginer's reverie.  And most importantly, the Lord is saying that the *dream
perceptions are also unreal*.  This reminds one of the Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad mantra 4.3.10:

*न तत्र रथा  *न रथयोगा न पन्थानो भवन्त्यथ रथान्रथयोगान्पथ: सृजते, न
तत्रानन्दा मुद: प्रमुदो भवन्त्यथानन्दान्मुद: प्रमुद: सृजते, न तत्र वेशान्ता:
पुष्करिण्य: *...*

//10. "There are no real chariots in that state, nor animals to be yoked  to
them, nor roads there, but he creates the chariots, animals  and roads.
There are no pleasures in that state, no joys, no  rejoicings, but he
creates the pleasures, joys and rejoicings.  There are no pools in that
state, no reservoirs, no rivers, but he  creates the pools, reservoirs and
rivers. He indeed is the agent.//

This is something that is in everyone's everyday experience.  Nowhere it is
stated that someone else, other than the dreamer, creates these.  The
Uddhavagita verse also reminds one of the GaudapAda kArikA 2.3:

*अभावश्च* *रथादीनां* श्रूयते न्यायपूर्वकम् ।
वैतथ्यं तेन वै प्राप्तं स्वप्न आहुः प्रकाशितम् ॥ 3
// Scripture, on rational grounds, declares the non-existence of the
chariots etc. perceived in dreams. Therefore the wise say that the unreality
established by reason is proclaimed by scripture. //

Shankaracharya's commentary on the above is:

इतश्च स्वप्नदृश्या भावा वितथाः, यतः अभावश्च *रथादीनां* स्वप्नदृश्यानां
श्रूयते, न्यायपूर्वकं युक्तितः श्रुतौ ‘न तत्र रथाः‘ इत्यत्र। तेन
अन्तस्थानसंवृतत्वादिहेतुना प्राप्तं वैतथ्यं तदनुवादिन्या श्रुत्या स्वप्ने...

//For this reason too, non-existence of chariots etc. is heard of in the
Upanishad, in the text 'There are no chariots....' from the standpoint of
logic.  They, the knowers of Brahman say that the unreality arrived at
through such reasons as existence inside the body, smallness of the space,
etc. is revealed by the Upanishad....//

One can see how the Lord’'s words in the Uddhavagita concurs with the
Upanishad, GaudapAda and Shankaracharya on the matter of the unreality of
the objects of dream / reveries. The word 'मृषा’ is what conveys this.  In
the following verse too this unreality of dream/reverie objects/experiences
is alluded and what is important, extended and applied to the world of
waking, (just as the GaudapAda kArika 2.5 says):

अर्थे हि अविद्यमाने अपि संसृतिः न निवर्तते।
ध्यायतः विषयान् अस्य स्वप्ने अनर्थ आगमः यथा॥५५॥

Even though the sense-world (of objects/subject and perceiving) is unreal,
अविद्यमाने अपि, the relative existence of a man who dwells on sense-objects
is never at an end, as troubles come in dreams. (Since dreams are admitted
to be effects of the impressions of the waking state.)

(Continued and concluded in Part 2)

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