[Advaita-l] Real vs. Unreal

Nithin Sridhar sridhar.nithin at gmail.com
Tue Dec 10 08:16:54 CST 2013

Dear Sujal ji,

If you refer to Tattva Bodha, in answer to the question what is Tattva
Viveka, Shankaracharya says, Atman alone is Satyam and everything else is
Mithyam is Tattva viveka. Hence, clearly it can be understood that by Real
is the word "Satya" meant and by Unreal the word "Mithya" is meant.

Satya and Nitya are not unconnected. They are deeply related. I have dealt
with it here-

The gist is, an Object is called Satya/Truth/Real only if it is true for
all the times. In other words, it is Eternal. Similarly, an object is
called Mithya/Unreal because it is not true for all the times. It has
existence only for the time it is perceived or only between birth and
death. Hence, regarding the Reality, the unreal used in English refers to

Mithyam and Anithyam are not very different too. The world is called
Mithyam only because it is Anithyam. World is neither eternal nor does it
have independent existence. On other hand, Brahman is True or exists the
way it does for all the time. Hence, Brahman is Eternal, Birthless and

Even in Tattva Bodha this is clear. While defining viveka in context of
Sadhana Chatushtaya, Shankaracharya uses Nithya-Anithya and while defining
Tattva viveka, he uses the words Satya-Mithya. I do not think, both are
very different. The significance of the different usages is in the sense
that, in the beginning of journey, we understand that world is ever
changing and temporary-Anithya and the substratum-Brahman is
Nithya-Brahman. And at an advanced stage, we realize that, the world is not
only temporary, but because of being temporary it is Unreal too in the
sense it has no Real existence the way Brahman has. The existence of world
is only through Maya i.e. an appearance. Hence, world is Mithyam-Unreal.

Regarding, your examples,  Anithya is indeed that which is perishable or
only temporary. But, there is no rules that a perishable thing must leave a
trace right?. A Bubble which bursts and merges back into ocean, or a wave
which merge back into ocean leaves no traces. Anithya simply means, that it
does not exist before birth and it does not exist after death. In
rope-snake example too, only this happens.

Please check this Anugraha Bhashanam by Sringeri Shankaracharya Bharati
Thirta Swamiji- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJGnpVIQ1-k


On Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM, Sujal Upadhyay <sujal.u at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Nitin bhai,
> I think unreal does not mean mithyA. Or say what is the english word for
> asatya?
> Satya = Real / truth
> asatya = ?
> mithyA (in between) = ? - that which is transient experience.
> My English is poor
> Also what is the difference between anitya and mithyA?
> According to my understanding, anitya means that which is non-self and is
> perishable. So if I destroy a cloth, it's irreversible end product is ash,
> which is visible.
> While in snake-rope analogy, when snake disappears, it does not leave any
> trace, like it's curved path, etc.
> Adi Shankara in Tatva Bodh defines both anitya and mithya separately.
> In Jnana Drishti, the world is negated and not destroyed. that is nirvikalp
> samadhi. Then there is another word, satvam khalu-idam brahma. 'Idam' :)
> Sri Ramana Maharshi says, when you look at shadow, then sun is not visible,
> when you look at sun, you cannot see shadow. Similarly, when you clearly
> experience this world, you do not experience Brahman. when you clearly
> experience Brahman which world is not visible.
> Body is Jnani is Jnana itself (consciousness). It is not physical body, but
> the substratum of entire universe is his body (i.e. Brahman).
> Aum
> OM
> Sujal Upadhyay
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