[Advaita-l] Why brahma jnAna is capable of sarva nivritti

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Wed Mar 22 10:58:50 EDT 2017

In Advaita Siddhi, there is an inquiry into the sublating power of
brahmajnAna. The pUrvapakshi poses the question - in any bAdhaka jnAna, it
is only the bhrama viShaya, the object of the misperception, whose
existence is disproved by right knowledge. When the shell is seen, it is
only the mistakenly perceived silver that is revealed to be an illusion. It
is not as if the seer's nivritti happens with when he knows that the silver
is actually shell. Neither are any other factors involved in the

Specifically, none of - a) bhrama jnAna, b) the cause of that bhrama, which
is the ignorance of the true underlying substance, c) the defect that led
to this misperception, such as the seer's defective vision, etc, d) the
seer himself  - are sublated by the knowledge of the substratum.

However, the advaitin uses the same example of shukti rajatam to claim that
upon brahma jnAna there is a total sublation of everything. This is an
unacceptable leap in logic.

 न च - बाधकधियां भ्रमतद्धेत्वज्ञानदोषाधयस्तद्रष्ट्रादीनामबाधकत्वं दृष्टमिति
कथं ब्रह्मज्ञानस्य तद्बाधकत्वं घटतामिति - वाच्यं | To this, the siddhikAra
says, do not argue thus.

We see instances where such all encompassing nivritti is possible.

यत्र हि स्वप्ने द्रष्टारं दुष्टकरणवन्तं कल्पयित्वा तस्य भ्रमं कल्पयति, तत्र
जागरज्ञानेन सर्वेषां निवृत्तिदर्शनात् | Consider the following example.
Suppose there is a man who dreams of some person (ie not him) mistaking a
shell for silver. Here,  the dream person who mistakes the shell for silver
(drashTA), his ignorance of the dream shell (ajnAna), his faulty eyesight
in the dream that led to the mistake (doSha), his perception of the silver
(bhrama) and the silver (bhrama viShaya) are all seen in the dream. All
these are sublated upon the dreamer waking up.

जाग्रद्दशायामपि यदा मनुष्यप्रतिकृतौ चैतन्यं कल्पयित्वा
तत्समीपवर्तिन्यनादर्श एवादर्शत्वं कल्पयित्वा स्वप्रतिबिम्बमयं पश्यतीति
कल्पयति, तदा नायं चेतनो न चायमादर्श इति परमया सर्वनिवृत्तिदर्शनाच्च
नेयमदृष्टचरी कल्पना |

This is also possible in the waking state - take the example of a child
playing with a toy. Let us assume the toy is shaped like a man looking at
his reflection in the mirror. Now the child imagines the toy man to be a
conscious entity and imagines the toy mirror to be a real mirror. He thus
imagines a non-existent conscious man admiring his non-existent reflection
in a non-existent mirror.

The imagined consciousness of the man (drashTA), his seeing (bhrama), the
reflection seen (bhrama viShaya), his ignorance of his own face that the
child attributes to the toy man (avidyA), which was made possible due to
the toy's proximity to the toy mirror (dOSha) - none of these is real.

When bAdha jnAna of this entire set up takes place, everything that was
thus imagined is falsified - are shown to be non-existent.

Similarly, why is it incorrect to say that brahma jnAna is capable of sarva
kalpanA nivritti?

To this, the pUrva pakshi asks - your examples are fine, but what is the
underlying reason for some types of bAdhaka jnAna to do nivritti of only
the bhrama viShaya, whereas other bAdhaka jnAnas (according to the
advaitin) are capable of sarva nivritti?

तथाचेयं शुक्तिरित्याद्यधिष्ठानज्ञानं रज्ज्वां सर्पभ्रममिव
द्रष्ट्राद्यध्यासं मा निवीवृतत्, तत्कस्य हेतो:? Why is it that certain
jnAna like shukti adhishThAna jnAna is incapable of doing a bAdha of ajnAna
(this is the opponent's view, the siddhAntin says that there is bAdha of
ajnAna too), and like in the instance of the snake illusion on the rope,
the seer's nivritti does not happen upon seeing the shell or the snake?

ब्रह्म ज्ञानं त्वाकाशादिप्रपञ्चभ्रममिव द्रष्टुर्दोषादिभ्रममपि निवर्तयेदेव,
तत्कस्य हेतो:? -whereas brahma jnAna is able to do a nivritti of everything
- not just this world consisting of the pancha bhutAs such as space etc,
but also its seer, his doSha etc. What makes brahma jnAna so special?

The siddhikAra says - तदधिष्ठानसाक्षात्कारत्वाभावात् | in the case of the
shell and silver, the shell is the substratum for only the silver, it is
not the substratum for the seer, or for the defect in the seer's eyes.  One
cannot say that because the shell is unseen, a person walking nearby is
attributed with "seer"-hood, or that such a seer's develops a fault in his
eyes leading to the misperception. In this example, the shell is the
adhishThAna for only the bhrama viShaya (silver), not the doSha or the
drashTA. As a consequence, the shukti adhishThAna jnAna is able to do
nivritti of only the silver.

अशेषभ्रमाधिष्ठानतत्त्वसाक्षात्कारत्वात् |
Whereas, brahman is the adhishthAna for everything -  it is the adhishThAna
for the entire dvaita prapancha that is seen as existing, the ajnAna
because of which this prapancha is seen, the person who perceives the
world, and all the doShAs of the seer such as karma vAsanas etc. Therefore,
when Brahma jnAna - the sakala adhishThAna jnAna - arises, everything that
has Brahman as its adhishThAna undergoes nivritti.

एवंच बाधबुद्धित्वं न दोषाद्यबाधाकत्वे प्रयोजकम्, अपि
तु तद्भ्रमाधिष्ठानतत्त्वसाक्षात्कारभिन्नत्वमिति द्रष्टव्यं | Therefore,
there is no rule that bAdha jnAna is intrinsically unable to sublate doSha,
etc. On the contrary, a bAdha jnAna's inability to sublate doShas etc.,
stems from the factors of perception involved having a different substratum
than the substratum whose knowledge is revealed by the bAdha jnAna.

ननु - कल्पितत्वादुक्तदृष्टान्तेन तत् बाध्यताम्, इह तु कथमिति चेत्  | The
pUrvapakshi then asks - the sublatability of all the factors involved in
the bhrama in your examples is because every single one of them is
imagined. However, that cannot be said to be applicable for the world.

हन्त ब्रह्मव्यतिरिक्तस्य सर्वस्य कल्पितत्वमङ्गीकुर्वतामस्माकमिदमनिष्टं
महादापादितं देवानां प्रियेण  To this the siddhikAra says - who says that
everything is not imagined? The world that I observe is imagined by me - I
may not be aware of the fact - but whoever observes the bhrAnti is the one
that imagines it. Everything apart from Brahman is kalpitam according to us.

Next, the pUrvapakshi asks - are objects revealed by sAkshi  sublatable?
Does the sAkshi suffer bhrAnti? Here he is arguing that there can be no
bAdha for sAkshi pratyaksha things like sukha, dukha, shuktirajatam etc.
because they are revealed by sAkshi, which happens to be shuddha chaitanyam
and defect-free. Hence, what the sAkshi reveals cannot be bAdhya either.

The pUrvapakshi wishes to establish that everyone is acutely aware of one's
own happiness  / sorrow, and therefore to argue based on the shruti (तत्र
को मोह: क: शोक: एकत्वमनुपश्यत:) that there is no happiness or sorrow for
the self is flawed.

He says:
ननु - साक्षिप्रत्यक्षं न बाध्यं; दोषाजन्यत्वात्, प्रत्युत
श्रुतिजनिताद्वैतज्ञानमेव बाध्यम्; तात्पर्यभ्रमरूपदोषजन्यत्वात्
sAkshi pratyaksha objects cannot be sublated (bAdhyam) because the sAkshi
does not arise from a defective source (and so cannot be mistaken). On the
other hand, the notion that advaita is the tAtparya of shruti can be
defective, and therefore advaita jnAna, which arises from such a defective
notion, itself may be bAdhyam. Therefore, quoting shruti to say that the
the joy or sorrow observed by the self is unreal is inappropriate.

To this objection, the siddhikAra replies:

इति चेत् - न ; चैतन्यस्य स्वरूपत: दोषाजन्यत्वेऽपि तदवच्छेदिकाया
अविद्यावृत्तेर्दोषजन्यत्वात् ; तत्प्रतिफलितचैतन्यस्यैव साक्षिपदार्थत्वात् ;
We accept that consciousness inherently is not defective - however, pure
consciousness, being completely free of any relation whatsoever (असङ्गो हि
अयं पुरुष:),  by itself cannot reveal any other object. It needs a vritti
or thought to reveal the object. Consciousness when enclosed by a thought
is the one that reveals that object. If the thought that reveals the object
itself is of defective origin (eg avidyA vritti or mano vritti), then the
vastu that it reveals (shuktirUpya or sukha/dukha respectively) also can be

The pUrvapakshi had argued that holding that advaita is the tAtparya of
shruti - this itself could be a bhrama, and cannot disprove pratyaksha
which says that the world is real.

The siddhikAra refutes this by saying that:

अद्वैततात्पर्यग्रहस्य च प्रत्यक्षाद्यविरोधेन प्रमारूपतया दोषत्वाभावात् न
तज्जन्मद्वैतज्ञानं बाध्यं;
to claim that the advaita tAtparya of shruti is bhrama, one has to prove it
is bhrama by means of pratyaksha, anumAna etc. However, the field of
pratyaksha and anumAna is vyAvahArika, meaning that the results that they
reveal operate in the vyAvahArika plane. As a consequence, they are unable
to disprove shruti's advaita tAtparya, which is of a higher order of
reality, pAramArthika.

By these and other arguments, the siddhikAra thus establishes the scope of
the sublating power of brahma jnAna.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list