[Advaita-l] सच्चेन्न बाध्येत, असच्चेन्न प्रतीयेत

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Feb 14 01:14:15 CST 2013

In Advaita vedanta the dictum सच्चेन्न बाध्येत, असच्चेन्न प्रतीयेत, a
famous one, gives the characteristic of sadasadvilakShaNatva.  It means: If
it (the illusory snake) is deemed to be absolutely real, then it should not
undergo sublation/negation later.  But we do see that the negation takes
place upon knowing the substratum rope.  On the other hand, if it ( the
illusory snake) is admitted to be a non-existent entity like the hare's
horn, then it should not have been perceived/experienced.  But it is well
known that the illusory snake is experienced as 'the snake is'.  Since both
the possibilities are not applicable, the illusory snake is concluded to be
of a category called 'sadasadvilakShaNa', in other words, mithyA.

This expression सच्चेन्न बाध्येत, असच्चेन्न प्रतीयेत has been widely used
in Advaitic works from the times of Chitsukha.  Recently while reading the
Taittiriyopanishad bhAShyam of Bhagavatpada Shankara, two sentences were
noted with particular attention that enshrine the two segments of the
expression: सच्चेन्न बाध्येत, असच्चेन्न प्रतीयेत.

In the BhAShyam for 'satyam' of the passage 'सत्यं ज्ञानम् अनन्तं ब्रह्म’
of this Upanishad, Shankara gives a very crisp but comprehensive definition
of what 'satyam' is:

 // *यद्रूपेण** यन्निश्चितं तद्रूपं न व्यभिचरति, तत् सत्यम् ।*
यद्रूपेणयन्निश्चितं तद्रूपं व्यभिचरति, तदनृतमित्युच्यते । अतो
’वाचारंभणं विकारो नामधेयं मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम्’, एवं सदेव सत्यम्
इत्यवधारणात् ।

//*As for satyam, a thing is said to be satyam, Real, when it does not
change the nature that is ascertained to be its own; *and a thing is said
to be unreal when it changes the nature that is ascertained to be its
own.  Hence
a mutable thing is unreal, for in the text, ‘All transformation has speech
as its basis, and it is name only.  Clay as such is the reality.’
(Chandogya Up. 6.1.4), it has been emphasized that, that alone is true that
Exists (Ch.Up. 6.2.1)  //

Only the highlighted portion is relevant to this discussion.  Here
'abAdhyatvam' (non-negatability/unsublatability) aspect is brought out in
the most unambiguous terms.  This corresponds to the सच्चेन्न बाध्येत
segment of the dictum we have taken up.

In this very upanishad bhaShyam, further down from the above reference,
Shankara observes while commenting on the passage: असन्नेव स भवति
असद्ब्रह्मेति वेद चेत् (२.६)thus:  ...यदस्ति तद्विशेषतो गृह्यते; यथा घटादि ।
* यन्नास्ति, तन्नोपलभ्यते; यथा शशविषाणादि ।* ..... न च असतो जातं किञ्चिद्
गृह्यते लोके कार्यम् । असतश्चेन्नामरूपादि कार्य,* निरात्मकत्वात्
नोपलभ्येत;*उपलभ्यते तु, तस्मादस्ति ब्रह्म ।  [’If anyone knows Brahman
non-existing, he himself becomes non-existent. (2.6) bhashyam:  ...whatever
exists is perceived as possessed of distinctive attributes, as for instance
a pot, etc. Whatever is non-existent is not perceived, as for instance the
horn of a hare etc. .... And no effect is perceived in this world as having
been produced from a non-entity.  If such effects as name and form had
originated from a non-entity, *they should not have been perceived since
they are insubstantial* (nirAtmakam).  But they are perceived. Hence
Brahman exists (and not a non-existing entity)]

Here in the highlighted portion is the corresponding segment:  असच्चेन्न
प्रतीयेत of the dictum.  Even the construction in the bhAShyam  is so
similar: *नोपलभ्येत* (न प्रतीयेत).


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