[Advaita-l] The concept of 'bhAvarUpa' in shAnkara bhAShyam

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jun 19 12:31:40 CDT 2013

In the Chandogya upanishad bhashyam for the mantra 6.2.2 there is a brief
discussion on the refutation of the bauddha thought.  As a part of this
discussion Shankara says:

//atha samvRttyA abhyupagatam bIjasamsthAnarUpam upamRdyate iti chEt. kEyam
samvRtir-nAma? kim asau abhAvah uta bhAvaH? iti. yadi abhAvaH,
dRShTAntAbhAvaH. atha bhAvaH, tathApi na abhAvAt ankurotpattiH,
bIjAvayavebhyo hi ankurotpattiH.//

The translation as given by Swami Gambhirananda for the above is:

//Objection: Again, if it is said that the configuration in the form of the
seed accepted in popular usage (samvRttyA) gets destroyed?  Reply: What is
this thing that is called *popular usage*?  Is that existence or
non-existence? If it is non-existence, no illustration can be cited (in
support).  If, on the contrary, it is existence, even then the sprout does
not come out of non-existence (as held by the buddhist).  For the sprout is
born from the constituents of the seed.//

In the gloss, Anandagiri says for the word 'samvRti' of the bhashyam:
'tattvam yayA saMvRiyatE AcChAdyatE sA samvRtiH - laukikI buddhiH.  sA chEt
bhAvarUpA iShTA tayA bIjAvayavAnAm ankurAkArapariNAma-siddhEH dRShTAnta
asiddhiH ityarthaH.

['samvRti' is that concealment of the truth which is otherwise known as
vyAvahAra buddhi (translated by Sw.G as 'popular usage.' ) If this
concealment is admitted to be bhAvarUpa, of an existent type, then there
will be no analogy to offer (by the bauddha) since it is well known that it
is the constituent parts of the seed that get transformed into the sprout
(and not some existent (or non-existent) samvRtiH, concealment/AvaraNa.]

This word 'samvRtiH' is used in the GaudapAda kArikA 4.57 too:

samvRtyA jAyatE sarvam  shAshvatam nAsti tena vai....

[57 The entire universe is created by false knowledge; therefore nothing in
it is eternal. Everything, again, as one with Ultimate Reality, is unborn;
therefore there is no such thing as destruction.]

Shankara says for that word 'samvRtyA' - samvRtyA = saMvaraNam saMvRtiH
avidyAviShayaH laukiko vyavahAraH tayA samvRttyA jAyate sarvam....

[everything is produced by concealment (note: Anandagiri's above-stated
word 'AvaraNam') consisting in the empirical outlook within the domain of
ignorance....  Sw.G]  For this bhashya too Anandagiri says: avidyayA
sarvasya jAyamAnatvE sati avidyAviShayE nityam nAma nAstyEva...[since
everything is born of ignorance, there is nothing that can be called

In the bhashyam to the G.kArikA 4.92 Shankara uses this word again: jnEyatA
api dharmANAm samvRtyA eva, na paramArthataH... [As for the souls being
objects of cognition, that, too, is merely from empirical experience but
not in Reality. Sw.G.]

In the adhyAsabhAShya, at the beginning, we encounter these words:

...mithyAjnAnanimittaH ...naisargiko'yam lokavyavahAraH.

In the Taittiriya bhAShyam for the mantra 'satyam cha anRtam cha satyam
abhavat' where the Upanishad teaches the three types of sattA, Shankara
comments for the first word 'satyam' = vyavahAra-viShayam and for the
second satyam word: paramArtha satyam.

>From the above we conclude:

   - The word 'samvRtiH' is used by GaudapAda and Shankara in the context
   of Vedanta and not necessarily in the bauddha-context.
   - It means: avidyA/AvaraNam as per Shankara
   - It also means, by extension, the vyavahArika dRShTi based on ignorance
   of the pAramArthika
   - For Shankara this samvRtiH/avidyA/AvaraNam/vyAvahArika is 'satyam' (as
   per Tai.bhashya) and 'bhAva' (rUpa) as per chAndogya bhashyam.
   - And the usage in all places, in the chandogya as well as in the
   G.K.bhashya is unmistakably as the upAdAna kAraNam for the world. This is
   known from the seed-sprout example Shankara takes for the refutation of the
   bauddha view.  The seed constituents are the ones that transform into the
   sprout.  Hence it is the upAdAna kAraNam.  Shankara is considering the
   possibility of the samvRti (ignorance/AvaraNam/avidyA) being a bhAva or
   abhAva vastu (for the emergence of the sprout as per the bauddha, and by
   final implication the entire world - for he holds abhAva (non-existence) is
   the source of the world).  In the vedanta siddhAnta, however, the sat,
   which is bhAva, is the upAdAna kAraNam for the jagat. Thus, the discussion
   here is the bhAvarUpa kAraNam (samvRti, avidyA) as the upAdAna kAraNam for
   the jagat.
   - In Advaita, Sat/brahman is the vivartopAdAna kAraNam for the jagat and
   avidyA/ajnAnam/mAyA/prakRti is the pariNAmyupAdAnam.  Brahman is
   niShkriya/nirvikArI being ekam and cannot be held to 'transfrom' into the
   jagat; It can only appear as the jagat.  prakRti, however, being made of
   sattva, rajas and tamas, is the one which transforms into the jagat.
   - The vyAvahArika is a certain 'satyam' for Shankara, as distinguished
   from the paramArthika satyam.
   - Since samvRti is called laukika vyAvahAra by shankara, and also
   bhAvarUpa, it is also 'satyam', though of the vyavaharika type.
   - Hence, the avidyA/samvRti/vyavahAra is said to be bhAvarUpa, not on
   par with pAramArthika.
   - This is the meaning of bhAvarUpa upAdAna kAraNam that is


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