[Advaita-l] Vichaara Saagara of Nishchaladasa - Part I

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 3 22:46:10 CST 2013

PraNAms to all. After reaching Chennai, I started, as usual, attending Swami Paramarthanandaji's talks during weekends. He is taking Vichaara Saagara of Nishchaladasa on Saturday mornings at Astik Samaj in Venus Colony in Chennai. I have posted earlier some extensive notes based on his talks. The notes are based on my understanding than verbatim of the talks. Hence any errors are mine. 
Because of the length of the write-up, I am splitting this into four parts. 
Hari Om! 
Vichaara Saagara of Nishchaladasa -
Topic: Saamaanya chaitanya and visheSha chaitanya.
Purvapakshi provides two objections. First objection is aatma cannot have ignorance, since aatma is of the nature of consciousness which is like a light and ignorance is of nature of darkness. Light and darkness are diagonally opposite to each other. Hence aatma cannot have ignorance. Hence the fundamental postulate of advaita that one is ignorant of oneself. The second objection is aatma cannot have parts. We will examine the second aspect and its implication later. 
Answer to the first objection: Nischaladaasa says one should understand that consciousness manifests, as though, in two forms. 1. Saamaanya chaitanyam or general consciousness, and 2. VishiShTa chaitanyam or specific or qualified consciousness. It is similar to nirguna chaitanya and saguna chaitanya, as guna is same as visheShNa or qualification or an attribute. Guna belongs to prakRiti and prakRiti is same as maayaa. Hence maayaa sahita chaitanya is vishiShTa chaitanya or qualified consciousness.
The first one, the saamaanya chaitanyam, also called witnessing consciousness, is not opposite to ignorance. While the second one, which is AvRitti jnaana ruupa chaitanya, that is, it is the knowledge in the form of thoughts. It is the second one that is opposite to ignorance and not the first one. The reason is simple. Ontologically, ignorance and the opposite of it, the knowledge, are of the same order of reality. Hence they oppose each other, while the saamaanya chaitanya is absolute or Brahma swaruupam or intrinsic nature of Brahman. Vidyaranya calls these two in Pachadashi as kUTastha and chidAbhAsa chaitanyas. He gives an example of general sunlight falling on the wall, and on top it is a reflected light spot from a mirror close by. General sunlight is similar to sAmAnya chitanya while the localized light spot due to reflection is vishiShTa chaitanya. There may be several reflected light spots, due to different reflecting media, on the wall each
 light spot differing from each other and distinguishing from the general sunlight on the wall. The light spot depends on the quality of the reflecting media such as dull mirror vs polished mirror. 
The vishiShTa chaitanya is VRitti ArUDa chaitanyam – consciousness that is associated with the thought process. This can be examined from avachcheda vaada, consciousness that is covered or enclosed as in pot-space, or from Abhaasa vaada, reflected consciousness points, similar to the reflected light from a mirror.  The vishiShTa chaitanya or qualified consciousness is localized within the subtle body. In the text, Nischaladaasa uses the example of aruNi and agni, considering them similar to saamaanya and vishiShTa chaitanya.  We can use more familiar example such as the sunlight and moon light to illustrate the saamaanya and vishiShTa chaitanya.  Sunlight, here, stands for the all-pervasive consciousness while the moon-light stands of upAdhi sahita chaitanya, or localized consciousness, enclosed in upAdhi or that which is reflected consciousness by the upAdhi. 

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list