[Advaita-l] Arriving at the Truth - the method of the shAstram/sampradAya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jan 17 11:20:51 CST 2012

In the Brahmasutra bhAShya Shankaracharya has specified four types
of 'sAmAnAdhikaraNyam' [where two words in a sentence are in apposition to
each other being in the same case-ending].  Generally Advaita Acharyas have
recognized two types of the above with relation to mahAvAkyas like 'tat
tvam asi' and 'sarvam khalvidam brahma' . Here the types: 1. ऐक्ये
सामानाधिकरण्यम्  2. बाधायां  सामानाधिकरण्यम्  are applied to both these
mahavakyas.  The intention is to arrive at 'identity' (aikyam), between the
two entities 'tat and tvam', 'sarvam and brahma'.  It would be interesting
to note that in the process of arriving at the aikyam it is inevitable that
one resorts to 'lakshaNaa vRtti', the giving up of the primary meanings of
the words involved, for example, tvam = the jiva, the Atma embodied and tat
= Brahman, the Creator.  It is only the secondary meanings of the words,
shodhita tvam/tat padaartha, that are taken up for striking the aikyam,
identity.  Thus, there is a 'bAdha' involved which is the giving up the
false-meanings/notions and retaining the pure sense of the words.  In
'sarvam' the variety denoted by names and forms is negated as avidyA-born
and the adhishTanam brahma is rendered as the 'truth' of the superimposed
variety. Says Shankaracharya in the above referred bhashya:

//अपवादो नाम यत्र कस्मिंश्चिद्वस्तुनि पूर्वनिविष्टायां मिथ्याबुद्धौ
निश्चितायां पश्चादुपजायमाना यथार्था बुद्धिः पूर्वनिविष्टाया
मिथ्याबुद्धेर्निवर्तिका भवति । यथा देहेन्द्रियसंघात
आत्मबुद्धिरात्मन्येवात्मबुद्ध्या पश्चाद्भाविन्या ’तत्त्वमसि’ (छा.६.८.७)
इत्यनया यथार्थबुद्ध्या निवर्त्यते । यथा वा दिग्भ्रान्तिबुद्धिः
दिग्याथात्म्यबुद्ध्या निवर्तते । //

The overall meaning is:  'negation' is said to be operating where one has
an erroneous knowledge about a particular object and owing to the
subsequent gaining of the right knowledge of that object the formerly held
erroneous knowledge ceases to be; is contradicted, dispelled.  For example
one has the wrong identification with the body-mind complex as oneself.
When owing to the upanishadic teaching of 'tattvamasi' one gains the
correct knowledge of oneself and the earlier held erroneous identification
with the body, etc. is dispelled.  Or, for instance when owing to a
confusion one has mismatched the directions and when the right knowledge of
the directions arise the mismatch is overcome.

This 'apavAda' is otherwise called bAdha. While in the above example
Shankara has specified the 'bAdha' with reference to 'tattvanasi' (with
regard to the individual's identification with Brahman), in the following
passage Shankara applies this 'bAdha' to the entire world including the
individual.  The context is the famous verse of the Bhagavadgita:

*ब्रह्मार्पणं* ब्रह्म हविः ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् । ब्रह्मैव तेन
गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥ 4.24
Here, in order to show that the enlightened one's actions will not result
in any binding factors the verse takes up the yajna-model.  In this yajna
there are several contributory factors, the coming together of which result
in the accomplishment of a yajna.  Since in the vision of the Jnani
everything is Brahman in truth, there is no idea of his performing any
action aimed at any fruit.  This 'sarvam khalvidam brahma' vision of the
Jnani is expressed by Shankara with an analogy:  ...यथा शुक्तिकायां
रजताभावं पश्यति, तदुच्यते ब्रह्मैवार्पणमिति यथा ’यद्रजतं तच्छुक्तिकैवेति
।’  The idea is: just as one would, in the wake of true knowledge, see the
absence of silver in the nacre...it is said 'brahman alone is the
offering...' just as one would realize 'that which is  (was seen as)
silver is none other than nacre.'

From the above two instances it is clear that according to Shankara the
right knowledge, whether it is with reference to oneself or with regard to
the world, involves a 'bAdha', a negation in the form of 'neti neti',
removal of mithyAjnAnam by the strength of samyagjnAnam.  We can see how
the concept of mithyAtva is enshrined in the process of gaining right
knowledge.  The teaching and vision of the satya is never to the exclusion
of the teaching and recognizing of the mithyA.  The famous manIShApanchakam
of Shankaracharya too proclaims this satya-mithyA pair in the very Jnani's
expression of his knowledge:

* ब्रह्मैवाहम् इदं जगच्च सकलं चिन्मात्रविस्तारितं
सर्वं चैतदविद्यया त्रिगुणया अशेषं मया कल्पितम् ।*
इत्थं यस्य दृढा मतिः सुखतरे नित्य परे निर्मले
चाण्डालोऽस्तु स तु द्विजोऽस्तु स गुरुरित्येवं मनीषा मम ॥ २
According to Shankara the enlightened one is he who holds that the world is
1. none other than Pure Consiciousness and 2. is a product of avidyA.  This
co-existence of the twin-realization is in perfect tune with the BG 2.16
verse: नासतो विद्यते भावो नभावो विद्यते सतः । *उभयोरपि
दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्**शिभिः* ॥ where the realization pertaining to
the sat-asat twin is the characteristic of the Jnani.

Here too Shankara asserts that the Jnani's understanding is not divorced
from the 'jagat mithyA' aspect.  The last verse of the BG 13th chapter is
one more instance. We have countless examples of enlightened ones
expressing their knowledge/realization in terms of the twin-aspect of
mAyA-brahma.  It would also be extremely interesting to note that
Gaudapadacharya divides the kArikA text into four chapters titled:

1. Agama prakaraNam 2. vaitathya prakaraNam 3. Advaita prakaraNam and 4.
alAtashAnti prakaraNam.  Even in this list we can discern the mAyA aspect
specifically covered in the second chapter and the tattva aspect in the
third.  It can be said that the word 'prapanchopashamam' of the seventh
mantra of the Mandukyopanishad forms the basis for the 2nd chapter and the
word 'advaitam' of this very mantra, the basis for the 3rd chapter.
Shankara's words in the commentary introducing these  two chapters too  is
equally significant:

For the 2nd chapter Shankara says: With a view to emphasize that even
through tarka it is possible to establish the unreality of dvaitam the
present chapter commences.

For the 3rd chapter Shankara says: Is Advaitam to be known only through the
Upanishads or through tarka too? In order to show that through tarka too
advaitam can be known this chapter proceeds.


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