[Advaita-l] Understanding Reality in the Vision of Advaita Vedanta

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Jul 22 01:43:43 CDT 2016

Mithyā vastu is accorded a certain reality, prātibhāsika satyam or
vyāvahārika satyam.  The 'satyam' aspect derives its satyatvam from the
adhishtānam.  The rope is the real vastu there but a person thinks that it
is a snake. Till such time the truth is known, he holds the snake to 'be',
in other words, he says or thinks: the snake 'is.'  While he should have
correctly said or held 'the rope is' he is wrongly saying 'the snake is.'
 The is-ness of the snake which is not at all there, which never 'is', is
transferred wrongly from the rope which alone 'is'.  Hence, the snake is
dependent on the rope for its very isness, reality, existence.

Dr.BNK Sharma (BNK) On page 146 of the Book in the footnote are given
by BNK the
eight verses quoted by Sri Madhvacharya in the work ‘Tattvodyota’:

On page 142 of the Book BNK says:
// The TattvasankhyAna (11 granthas) enumerates the categories recognized
by Madhva.  Here*reality* is *dichotomized* into ‘Swatantra’ (Independent)
and ‘paratantra’ (dependent).  This is the highest metaphysical and
ontological classification in Madhva’s system, whence his system derives
its name ‘Dvaita’.  God Vishnu is the One Highest Independent Real.  All
else is dependent on Him, including the Goddess Lakshmi, the presiding
deity of a-cit prakRti.  // (emphasis mine)

//Everything in finite reality is grounded in the Infinite reality and
needs it for its *being and becoming*.//  p.62

The dependence of the world of matter and the souls on Brahman is in the
sense that both are functioning at His will, which is the *essential
condition and sustaining principle* that invests them with their reality *and
without which they would be but void names and bare possibilities.* //
(emphasis mine) (page 67)

My comments:  The above statements show very clearly that for Dvaita, the
paratantra cannot even ‘be’, ‘exist’, in the absence of the ‘sattaa’
provided by / drawn from the Swatantra.  There is no ‘svatantra-sattaa’ for
the paratantra, it is ‘parataH sattaa’ alone it enjoys. The
characterization of the true status of the paratantra as ‘mere void names
and bare possibilities’ by none other than an acclaimed authority on Dvaita
Vedanta, Dr.BNK  clearly depicts the Advaitic position with regard to the
naama-rUpa prapancha.  Of special significance is the Advaitic
interpretation of the Chandogya mantra: , वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयम्
मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् which clearly applies to the above characterization of
the paratantra by the Dvaita school. In advaita too, just as the Dvaitins
have specified, the created world has no substance of its own other than
Brahman.  It is nothing but ‘void names and bare possibilities’ without
Brahman. A pot is but a ‘void name and a bare possibility’ without the
clay, the material cause. A wave or an ocean are but ‘void names
and barepossibilities’ without their material water. Thus according to BNK,
Dvaita considers that the ‘natural’ nature of the world of names and forms
to be ‘mere voids and bare possibilities’.  However, ONLY when they are
endowed with Hari’s ‘apekShA’, consideration, they acquire a paratantra
reality.  And Hari too can exist without them and that is His True nature
and His ‘apekShA’ of them is only out of His Will, otherwise termed mAyA.

All that Advaita categorises under ‘vyavahaarika’ is shown under
‘paratantra’ in  Dvaita. While Advaita holds Brahman alone as the
PaaramArthika, Dvaita has ‘ViShNu’ alone to show under Swatantra.  Thus,
the two-fold categorisation of the Tattva/Satya is not avoidable even for

A statement from Sri Raghavendra Tirtha's (a highly respected Acharya of
the Madhva sampradaya) commentary on the PuruSha sUktam.  The Swami, while
commenting on the words 'पुरुष एवेदं सर्वम्’ [All this is that PuruSha
alone] has cited a verse from a smRti:

"*yadadHInA yasya sattA tat tadityEva bHanyatE*"

यदधीना यस्य सत्ता तत् तदित्येव भण्यते ।

[That whose sattA, existence, is dependent on Him (something other than
itself) is spoken of as 'He Himself'.]

To explain, the 'idam', the created world, the paratantra, depends on That
(Him) for its very existence.  That way it (the created world) is spoken of
as 'The PuruSha, the Creator, Himself'.  Of course the Madhvas carefully
avoid giving it an advaitic meaning.

So here there is a confirmation from the Madhva school itself for the fact
that the paratantra (the dependent reality, the vyAvahArika of Advaita) has
no existence, sattA, of its own; it exists on the borrowed existence of the
Swatantra (the independent Reality, the paaramArthika of Advaita).

As I had stated earlier, such a situation is best explained by the
rope-snake analogy.  The illusory/superimposed snake has no existence,
sattA, of itself.  As long as one sees a snake there, its 'existence' is no
different from the existence of the underlying rope there.  The rope's
existence itself is transferred, as it were, to the snake and the vyavahara
goes on: there exists a snake.  While in truth there is the rope alone and
no snake at all, the sattA being One Only and not two, it is concluded that
the rope alone appears as the snake.  When the rope-knowledge is had, what
gets sublated is the 'snake' alone and NOT the 'existence', sattA.  In
fact, sattA, which is truly Brahman, Sat, Itself, can never go out of
existence: न अभावो विद्यते सतः. Now he will start saying 'there IS a rope'
or 'a rope exists'.  But this will be too much for the Dvaitins to admit
although they mean this alone without saying it in so many words.

A thing or person may depend on another for survival but not for the
fundamental existence.

On Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 10:50 PM, Venkatesh Murthy via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste
> It is a good article. I did not understand why you say Mithya means
> dependent reality. Take a dog. The dog's tail is depending on the dog.
> Without dog there is no dog's tail. But there can be a dog with tail
> cut off. I heard some Tantric practitioners cut a dog's tail and use
> it for strange practices. Near my home there is a street dog. Someone
> has recently cut its tail and took it.  It is independently used. But
> can we say dog's tail is Mithya compared to dog when it is attached to
> dog? No. It is not less real than dog.
> On Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 7:13 PM, Wolfgang P via Advaita-l
> <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
> > Dear friends,
> >
> > the following article explains the vedAntic categories satyam, asat and
> > mithyA. The article is titled "Understanding Reality in the Vision of
> > Advaita Vedanta".
> >
> > I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
> >
> >
> https://ia801507.us.archive.org/10/items/UnderstandingReality_201607/01_Understanding_Reality_en.pdf
> >
> > Comments are welcome!
> >
> > kind regards
> >
> > Wolfgang P
> > _______________________________________________
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> --
> Regards
> -Venkatesh
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