[Advaita-l] Fwd: Imagined Nature of Root Ignorance in Vivaranam - 1(2)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Aug 20 12:25:31 CDT 2012

Response no.1 (2)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 5:03 PM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Imagined Nature of Root Ignorance in Vivaranam
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>

On Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 5:39 AM, subhanu saxena <subhanu at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Sri Subramanian wrote:“In fact Sri SSS too has not been able to do away
> with a state prior to adhyAsa:”
> Namaste, this is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Sri Swamiji’s
> position that seems to have been around for some time, that I have not had
> time to address in the past but now have the opportunity in the current
> thread”. Sri Swamiji does not acknowledge anywhere in his writings a prior
> “state” to adhyAsa, though the implication of  Sri Subramanian’s analysis
> is that the orthodox tradition does exactly that which would contradict the
> superimposed nature of mUlAvidyA. So what is agrahaNam?


I reproduce here what the Swamiji has said in his reply to a scholar who
objected to his views:

//// *adhyAsa, of course, presupposes ignorance or want of true knowledge.
But this is a logical presupposition, a necessary implication of thought. *No
positive entity like the unfortunate *MUlAvidyA* can claim precedence in
time over *adhyAsa; *for, as already said, time itself is its product.
vedAnta which predicates the unity of *brahman* will be shattered to
pieces, if a second entity not subjected to or originating from
*adhyAsa*be for a moment conceded to exist. The reality of the
not-self (
*anAtman) *follows necessarily from its not being *adhyAsa, *superimposed.
I submit this vital aspect of the system to the learned Professor for his
deep consideration.//

From the above it is clear that Sri SSS admits of an ignorance presupposing
*adhyAsa*. It is also clear, from the concluding remarks above, that Sri
SSS has, erroneously, equated the *bhAvarUpa* status of *mUlAvidyA* with
the Reality of *brahman*. He says that accepting a condition of ignorance
prior to superimposition is *a logical presupposition, a necessary
implication of thought. *What prevents him from extending this privilege of
logical necessity to the Acharyas who have found it necessary to posit a
condition preceding *adhyAsa* and naming it '*mUlAvidyA*'? It would be
pertinent to examine how and in what ways is the *'want of knowledge' or
'j~nAna abhAva'* as his followers term it, is different in kind from the *
mUlAvidyA* that SSS opposes vehemently.

Now, we have in the shruti Brahman engaging in creation.  Before creation,
'agre', we have Brahman making a deliberation: tadaikShata, bahu syAm
prajAyeya iti:  It, Brahman deliberated, how? let me become many, (and for
that) let me be born (as many).  It is called 'IkShaNapUrvaka- sRiShTi'
where the 'deliberation precedes the creation.'

Now, if we would say 'time is an entity that comes ONLY AFTER creation',
what would we call the 'state' that preceded creation, when this
deliberation of Brahman was being made?  One might not like to call it a
state but that is what the shruti is teaching.  Even the naiyAyika-s admit
of a pUrva vRttitva of the kAraNam in respect of the  kArya and a kShaNa
before the ultimate destruction of the kArya.  One has to, per force, admit
that just like the entire to-be-manifesed creation is in the unmanifest
state while this IkShaNam takes place, the entity 'time' too is in its
unmanifest state.  Otherwise, without taking into consideration this, it is
impossible to talk of the projection (adhyAsa) by Brahman (which is called
creation).  The entire avyAkRta state is thus present in a certain time
which is 'anAditvena kalpita.'

The 'pre-supposition' that Swamiji talks of is nothing different from
this.  The term, preposition 'pre' itself is time-sensed.   Just as the
projection of the created universe takes place only being preceded by an
IkShaNa, the adhyAsa that Swamiji talks of is presupposed by a condition
(may be an alternative to the word 'state') of unknownness.  In any case
the Sanskrit term 'pUrvAvasthA' is applicable to both the words.  This
proves that the adhyAsa, even in Swamiji's system is not un-conditional.
That it is definitely only conditional is clear from his own words I have
cited above.

In July of this hear I was in a chintana goShThI at Sagar where a number of
scholars had assembled.  Vidwan Mani Dravid SastrigaL was expounding the
adhyAsa bhAshya part of the BhAmati.  When an appropriate context arose I
questioned:  It is objected that 'time itself is a product of adhyAsa and
how can one talk of a 'state'/an 'avasthA' preceding adhyAsa?  To this the
reply I got was:  'kAlaH' (time) is defined in Advaita as: avidyA-chit
samyogaH.  This translates to: the conjunction of avidyA and
Consciousness.  Since sRiShThi/sthiti/laya is admitted as anAdi in advaita
the stated samyogaH is also admitted to be anAdi.  Therefore kAla too is

The bh.gita verse:

*प्रकृतिं पुरुषं चैव* विद्ध्यनादी उभावपि । विकारांश्च गुणांश्चैव विद्धि
प्रकृतिसंभवान् ॥१३- १९॥

*पुरुषः प्रकृतिस्थो हि* भुड़्क्ते प्रकृतिजान्गुणान् । कारणं गुणसड़्गोस्य
सदसद्योनिजन्मसु ॥१३ - २१ ॥

*यावत्संजायते*  किंचित्सत्त्वं स्थावरजङ्गमम् ।
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञसंयोगात्तद्विद्धि भरतर्षभ ॥१३- २६॥

In the commentary to the first verse Shankara has very eloquently discussed
the anAditva concept.

In the third verse above the concept of adhyAsa has been well established.

From the overall teaching we understand that this aadhyAsika samyogaH of
the kshetra and the kshetrajna is anAdi.  We also understand that at every
creation, for the jiva to attain the sadasadyonijanma, there has to be the
earlier aadhyAsika sambandha in a seed form.  This will invariable
'precede' the subsequent creation/adhyAsa.  पूर्वपूर्वाध्यासस्य
उत्तरोत्तराध्यासं प्रति कारणत्वम् .  Hence there is no room at all for the
objection: one cannot admit a state prior to adhyAsa.  This objection is in
contradiction to the shAnkaran advaita taught in a crisp manner in the
three selected verses, as a sample.  How can one insist that 'time itself
is a product of adhyAsa and therefore nothing can precede adhyAsa' in this
scenario which cannot be brushed aside?

Now, I am citing a line from the Chandogya bhashya 6.2.3:

तत्सत् ऐक्षत ईक्षां दर्शनं कृतवत् । ....इदं तु चेतनं ईक्षितृत्वात् ।
तत्कथमैक्षत इत्याह - बहु प्रभूतं स्यां भवेयं प्रजायेय प्रकर्षेणोत्पद्येय ।
यथा मृद्घटाद्याकारेण यथा वा रज्ज्वादि सर्पाद्याकारेण बुद्धिपरिकल्पितेन ।
....एवम् *ईक्षित्वा* तत्तेजोऽसृजत तेजः सृष्टवत् ।

Here we can see Shankara is explaining the state just prior to sRShTi.  It
is noteworthy that Shankara is not silent about adhyAsa here; He explicitly
gives the adhyAsa example too.  And the word  *ईक्षित्वा *containing the
'ktvA' pratyaya, suffix, denotes an undeniable sense of पौर्वापर्यम् a
sequence of one event happening before another that follows,  as in the
case of श्रुत्वा उत्तरं ददाति ( a person hears the other one speak and then

I think the Swamiji has attempted something even Shankara did not dare to.
From Swamiji's writing and his followers' defence we hear this often: time
itself is a product of adhyAsa and therefore how can there be a
state/condition prior to time?  One can see how erroneous this premise is
and weak the defence is.

And Swamiji says:

//No positive entity like the unfortunate *MUlAvidyA* can claim precedence
in time over *adhyAsa; *for, as already said, time itself is its product.
vedAnta which predicates the unity of *brahman* will be shattered to
pieces, if a second entity not subjected to or originating from
*adhyAsa*be for a moment conceded to exist.//

Now we have to question: Has Shankara caused the Vedantic Brahman's
shattering to pieces by His explicitly writing that Brahman engaged in a
deliberation before actually creating the elements? Has Shankara
compromised Advaita by admitting an event prior to creation by saying, in
the Mandukya kArikA bhashya 1.2, for instance:

कथं प्राणशब्दत्वमव्याकृतस्य? ’प्राणबन्धनं हि सोम्य मनः’ (च्छा.) इति श्रुतेः
। ननु तत्र ’सदेव सोम्य’ इति प्रकृतं सद्ब्रह्म प्राणशब्दवाच्यम् । नैष
दोषः ।*वीजात्मकत्वाभ्युपगमात्सतः । यद्यपि सद्ब्रह्म प्राणशब्दवाच्यं
तत्र तथापि
जीवप्रसवबीजात्मकत्वमपरित्यज्यै**व प्राणशब्दत्वं सतः सच्छब्दवाच्यता च ।* यदि
हि निर्बीजरूपं विवक्षितं ब्रह्म अभविष्यत् ’नेति नेति’, ’यतो वाचो
निवर्तन्ते....इत्यवक्ष्यत् ।

Here Shankara is emphasizing that the Sat/Brahman prior to creation is not
the AdvitIya pure Consciousness/Existence *but that which is associated
with the state prior to creation,* in other words Brahman is along with the
creation in unmanifest state.  This statement of Shankara is in stark
contradiction with the 'ideal' state of Brahman Sri Swamiji has envisaged
before creation/adhyAsa:

//No positive entity like the unfortunate *MUlAvidyA* can claim precedence
in time over *adhyAsa; *for, as already said, time itself is its product.
vedAnta which predicates the unity of *brahman* will be shattered to
pieces, *if a second entity not subjected to or originating from adhyAsa be
for a moment conceded to exist.*//

If it is urged that this unmanifest state is not a second entity to Brahman
because it is only adhyasta itself, then there is no quarrel with the
mUlaavidyA people who also hold it to be adhyasta only.  If it is further
urged that this is not a state that is preceding adhyAsa, then it
contradicts what Shankara has explicitly stated, for example in the
Chandogya bhashya cited above where the IkShaNa along with the unmanifest
is present prior to the creation/manifestation of the elements.

Thus one can clearly see that:

1. Time, though adhyastha, a state prior to creation is admitted.  Shankara
does not shy away from using terms like 'prAk', pUrvam, IkShitvA etc. all
of which denote a paurvAparya bhAva.

2. Unmanifest state is certainly available at the time of this IkShaNa
since Brahman cannot deliberate without any material with which It can
Responses to be continued in another post


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