[Advaita-l] Imagined nature of root ignorance in vivaranam

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 20 10:28:26 CDT 2012

> srirudra at vsnl.com wrote:

> Dear Sri Siva Senani Nori

>Super imposition is as a result of the viwer's mind which is confused due to emotion etc.But how do we reconcile that super imposition is not dependent on the object when we do know that similarity /identical patterns are a must for this phenomenon?One cannot superimpose a snake on a flat rectangular slab.R.Krishnamoorthy. 
Dear Sri R. Krishnamoorthy
The very beginning of Sankara's bhashya on the Brahma sutras starts with the statement that Self and Not-self are not merely unlike each other, but are completely opposed like dark and lightness (... तमःप्रकाशवत् विरुद्धस्वभावयोः ...). Still we see instances like people saying things like 'I am this', and 'this is mine' - such behaviour is simply natural (...नैसर्गिकः अयं लोकव्यवहारः). 
You talk about the requirement for objects to be similar. If this objection is taken further and generalised, we can say that superimposition at the very least needs the base or locus of superimposition to be in front of one, in a perceptible manner. That is, if not a stone slab, one needs some thing perceptible on which the snake needs to be superimposed. If this objection is answered your objection would be answered.
In fact, after one paragraph about what adhaasa is, this is exactly the objection raised, to which, the Acharya replies that there is no restriction that only a thing placed in front (पुरः अवस्थितः), i.e. something perceptible to senses, be the base for superimposition. Do we not see that children superimpose possession of a surface and colour (or dirt) on the not-directly-perceptible aakaaSa (which in reality is devoid of shape and colour and is in fact not perceptible to our senses)? अप्रत्यक्षे अपि आकाशे बालाः तल-मलिनता-आदि अध्यस्यन्ति। In this way, superimposition of the non-self on the Self is not illogical or unreasonable. (एवम् अविरुद्धः प्रत्यगात्मनि अपि अनात्माध्यासः।)
To relate the above to the question asked by you, stranger superimpositions than snake-on-slab happen, as we see all the time. Such super-imposition is natural. That is, such behaviour is observed and there can be no satisfactory answer to the question 'why it happens'. Any explanation is bound to be questioned further, and mostly will base itself on another concept, which has to be taken as an axiom. Yes, we do have a choice of models with no explanation and models with a bit more of explanation, and the only test available is that of internal consistency.
In my view, words like natural, leelaa (sport), or even apaurusheyatva, indicate that the problem at hand is incapable of perfect resolution and that the objectives of Sastra do not get affected if the question 'why' or 'how' is not answered with respect to that particular problem. So it is much better to put them in a basket like 'natural', 'sport' or 'not-man-made' which does not admit further questions, and get on.
N. Siva Senani

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