[Advaita-l] Defintion of anubhava

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jul 4 07:03:10 EDT 2017

On Tue, Jul 4, 2017 at 2:08 PM, Praveen R. Bhat via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste,
> I hear a lot of refutation of the word अनुभव by translating it as
> 'experience' first and then beating it up by saying that ब्रह्मज्ञान is not
> experential.

Dear Praveen ji,

The traditional Acharyas accept a vritti called 'akhandAkAra vrtti' that is
of three moments' duration: it arises, destroys avidya and dies. It is this
vritti that is called anubhava. Once that anubhava arises, there is nothing
more to be done as sadhana. I have found this passage as coming close to

The Acharya's Bhashyam to the Mandukya Upanishad  7th mantra
नान्तःप्रज्ञम्.. :

//  *प्रतिषेधविज्ञानप्रमाणस्य..*.ज्ञानस्य द्वैतनिवृत्ति-क्षण-व्यतिरेकेण
*क्षणान्तर-अनवस्थानात्* । अवस्थाने च अनवस्थाप्रसङ्गाद् द्वैतानिवृत्तिः । //

[The instrument of knowledge (which is what is known as ''akhanDAkAra
vritti') ...has no other action on Turiya, apart from eliminating the
unwanted attributes like .......for knowledge (as a mental state, vRtti), *does
not continue for a second moment following that of the cessation of

> However, when Bhashyakara himself uses the word अनुभव, he means
> अपरोक्षज्ञानम् variously called as अपरोक्षानुभूतिः (using the suffix क्तिन्
> instead of अप् with the same भावे व्युत्पत्ति), साक्षात्कारः, or even
> प्रत्यक्ष। That being the case, could someone confirm as to what exactly is
> the definition of अनूभव in orthodox Advaita Vedanta? To me, it appears that
> we agree with the Nyaya definition of अनुभव as स्मृतिभिन्नज्ञानम् अनुभवः।
> If we disagree, what is the definition?

This is true. However, a distinction is made between paroksha and aparoksha
jnanam. Paroksha is also jnanam, engendered by anumana, as in parvato
vahnimaan. Here it is different from smriti and yet there is no aparoksha
'anubhava' of the vahni there. Unless he sees it is not aproksha. Similarly
with regard to Brahman. Aparoksha anubhava is had through the vritti. The
Bhamati in r/o the sutra 'lingAcca' 4.1.22 gives a clear distinction.
Shankara also uses the term 'pratyaya' in the bhashya. In that sutra
bhashya Shankara distinguishes between the need for Avrtti of pratyaya and
a spontaneous arising of the anubhava. More information can be found in the
traditional commentaries, other works of say, Chitsukha, etc.


> I'm not particularly interested in what it translates into English, since
> it seems to be that the connotation of the word अनुभव is unfortunately
> reverse-engineered from its English translation 'experience'.
> ​Thanks much
> ,
> --Praveen R. Bhat
> /* येनेदं सर्वं विजानाति, तं केन विजानीयात्। Through what should one know
> That owing to which all this is known! [Br.Up. 4.5.15] */
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