[Advaita-l] Advaita Siddhi series 020 - panchama mithyAtva vichAra:

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Thu Dec 21 06:12:35 EST 2017

The fifth definition of mithyAtva was proposed by AnandabodhAchArya, a
great AchArya of advaita from the 11th century. Four works are attributed
to him, nyAyamakaranda, pramANamAla, nyAyadIpAvali and nyAyadIpika. The
siddhikAra takes up the fifth definition of mithyAtva for analysis.

सद्विविक्तत्वं वा मिथ्यात्वम् | That which is different from sat is mithyA.

Prima facie, this may lead to the charge of ativyApti, overextension of the
definition to cover asat. asat is different from sat, but not mithyA, hence

To understand why this charge does not hold, we have to examine the intent
of AnandabodhAchArya. What is sat? The nyAyAmritakAra considers several
meanings and finds flaws in each of them:

1) sat can mean brahman. Using this definition of sat, mithyA is different
from brahman. If this is all that mithyA means, the dvaitin would have no
problem with it. Thus, such a definition would lead to proving something
already known, or the defect of siddhasAdhanam.
2) sat can mean that which is real - ie satyam. Thus this definition means
that which is not real. That the world is not real needs to be proved,
therefore, the defect of siddhasAdhana is not present. However, the meaning
of sat is equatable to abAdhyam, unsublatable. In other words, mithyA is
sublatable. However, such a definition of mithyA is nothing new, it would
be the same as previous ones.
3) The naiyyAyikas say there is a jAti (universal) called sattA
(existence), and objects that have sattA jAti are sat. If the world is that
which is not endowed with existence, then such a definition is not
desirable to advaitin - that would be contrary to everyday experience.

To these objections, the siddhikAra replies:

सत्त्वं च प्रमाणसिद्धम् | that which is known through a valid means of
knowledge is sat.
If this definition had to apply to the world, then the implication would be
that the world is not known through a pramANa. However, the world is
directly perceived - it is the object of pratyaksha. Therefore is
pratyaksha not a pramANa?

The siddhikAra continues:

प्रमाणत्वं च दोषासहकृतज्ञानकरणत्वम् | pramANa, a valid means of knowledge,
is that which generates knowledge without defects.
However, the defects themselves may not be apparent when knowledge arises.
It is only when the object of knowledge is subsequently sublated, that the
presence of the defect inferred. Every knowledge in vyavahAra is open for
sublation, upon the knowledge of identity with Brahman. Therefore in this
view, only mahAvAkyas (sentences that postulate the identity of the
individual self with Brahman) are pramANas in reality, because they can
never be sublated. Every other pramANa is imbued with some defect or the
other - avidyA or primal nescience is the common defect afflicting all

The pUrvapakshi may argue that even the mahAvAkya is associated with
avidyA, because it generates vritti jnAna, a thought carrying the meaning
of the mahAvAkya. vritti jnAnam can be generated only in the mind, which is
one of the effects of primal nescience. That being the case, mahAvAkya
requires avidyA to remove avidyA. There is avidyA apeksha, or has avidyA as
a pre-requisite.

The reply given by brahmAnanda is that mahAvAkya requires avidyA to
generate valid knowledge, however the requirement of avidyA is not as a
defect. For example, a person suffering from pitta doSha is traditionally
held to see things yellow. If he/she sees a white object like a conch, the
person afflicted by this ailment will see that conch as yellow. Let us
assume that this patient visits a doctor, who diagnoses the ailment
correctly. In this instance, the doctor's diagnosis (which is a jnAna) has
an expectation for the presence of the ailment (it is the object of the
doctor's jnAna), but that expectation is not as a defect. However, when
avidyA in association with the eyes makes the world visible, there it acts
as doSha. Whereas, for jnAna born out of mahAvAkya, there is an expectation
for the presence of the mind, which is an effect of avidyA, but avidyA's
requirement is not as a defect.

This is the full import of the sentence प्रमाणत्वं च दोषासहकृतज्ञानकरणत्वम्.

तेन स्वप्नादिवत्प्रमाणसिद्धभिन्नत्वेन मिथ्यात्वं सिद्ध्यति | Therefore,
just like in the perception of dream objects, generated due to nidrA doSha,
perception is not considered as a valid means of knowledge, (the world) is
considered mithyA too as it is not revealed by a valid means of knowledge.

The nyAyAmritakAra had previously said that if sattva meant
unsublatability, then mithyAtva as difference from sat, would mean
sublatability. Even if sat is held to be the difference from a thing known
through a pramANa, it would ultimately imply sublatability. In other words,
nothing new is revealed with this definition and is the same as the
previous definitions of mithyAtva.

In reply, the siddhikAra makes a subtle but important distinction. That
which is pramANa siddha bhinnam is bAdhyam, however, pramANa siddha
bhinnatvam and bAdhyatva are different. That is, pramAnA siddha bhinnatvam
implies bAdhyatvam, but is not the same as the bAdhyatvam, just like where
there is fire there is smoke, but that does not make fire and smoke the
same. Therefore, this definition reveals something other than that which
was revealed by previous definitions of mithyAtva.

प्रमाणसिद्धत्वं चाबाध्यत्वव्याप्यमित्यन्यत् | pramANa siddhatvam is vyApya
for abAdhyatvam - that is, wherever there is pramANa siddha bhinnatvam,
there is bAdhyatvam. However the two are different (and thus the charge of
repetition does not apply).

अत्राप्यसति निर्धर्मके ब्रह्मणि चातिव्याप्तिवारणाय सत्त्वेन प्रतीयमानत्वं
विशेषणं देयम् ;
If it is argued that this definition extends to asat and attributeless
Brahman, then the qualifier "that which appears as existing" must be added.

asat are objects of a kind of vritti called vikalpa. Five kinds of thoughts
or vrittis are enumerated in yoga shAstra - pramANa, viparyaya, vikalpa,
nidrA and smriti. Of these, vikalpa vritti objectifies asat. However, even
vikalpa vritti is born out of avidyA doSha or ignorance, according to
advaita. Thus, even according to this revision by AnandabodhAchArya, the
fifth definition of mithyA will extend to asat.

Secondly, this definition extends (incorrectly) to the attributeless
Brahman too. According to the BhAmati school, shuddha Brahman cannot be the
object of any vritti. Thus, as shuddha Brahman is not knowable by any
pramANa, this definition of mithyAtva would incorrectly extend to shuddha
Brahman too.

The siddhikAra says - to remedy this, the qualifier "sattvena
pratIyamAnatva", "capable of appearing as existing" needs to be appended to
the definition.

तयो: सत्त्वप्रकारकप्रतीतिविषयत्वाभावात् | Both shuddha Brahman and asat are
not the objects of a cognition that has existence as its qualifier (ie they
are not capable of appearing as existing), thus this addition will remedy
the defects cited.

अतएव  - " सिद्विविक्तत्व " मित्यत्र सत्त्वं सत्ताजात्यधिकरणत्वं वा,
अबाध्यत्वं वा, ब्रह्मरूपत्वं वा | आद्ये
घटादावाविद्यकजातेस्त्वयाभ्युपगमेनासम्भव:, द्वितीये
बाध्यत्वरूपमिथ्यात्वपर्यवसानम् ; तृतीये सिद्धसाधनमिति - निरस्तम्

अतएव निरस्तम् - Therefore the following statements of the nyAyamritakAra
are refuted:

"सिद्विविक्तत्व" मित्यत्र सत्त्वं सत्ताजात्यधिकरणत्वं वा, अबाध्यत्वं वा,
ब्रह्मरूपत्वं वा | by the definition "sat viviktatvam", sat could mean 1)
that which is the substratum of the jAti (universal) of existence, or 2)
that which is unsublatable, or 3) that which is Brahman.
In each of the three alternatives, there is a problem:
आद्ये घटादावाविद्यकजातेस्त्वयाभ्युपगमेनासम्भव: if the first, objects of the
world like pot, which the advaitin admits as having existence, would render
this definition of mithyAtva to not apply to any object at all - ie it
would suffer from the defect of asambhava, inapplicability.
द्वितीये बाध्यत्वरूपमिथ्यात्वपर्यवसानम् ; if the second, then this
definition results in sublatability, which is the same as the previous
तृतीये सिद्धसाधनमिति in the third, mithyA is that which is different from
Brahman, which is already accepted. Thus there is siddha sAdhanam.

Why are these refuted?
अनभ्युगमादेव | Because, none of these three alternatives is the intended
meaning of sat.
सदसद्विलक्षणत्वपक्षोक्तयुक्तयश्चात्रानुसन्धेया: | Other defects cited by
the nyAyAmritakAra are answered in the chapter on sadasat vilakshaNatvam.
अवशिष्टं च दृष्टान्तसिद्धौ वक्ष्याम : || Any remaining defects will be
dealt with in the anirvachanIya khyAti section.

The previous topic is available here:


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