[Advaita-l] Advaita Siddhi series 010 - dvitIya mithyAtva vichAra: (part 2)

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Thu Oct 5 07:24:36 EDT 2017

In the previous post, available here:
we looked at the objections made by the nyAyAmritakAra to the second
definition of mithyAtva proposed by the vivaraNakAra - प्रतिपन्नोपाधौ
त्रैकालिकनिषेधप्रतियोगित्वं मिथ्यात्वं - the absence in all three periods
of time of an object in the locus of its appearance.

He had asked, what is the sattA, the degree of reality, of the absence of
the world?
1) If prAtibhAsika, the absence is only illusory. In other words, the world
is not really absent, thus it is real. This has already been accepted by
the nyAyAmritakAra, thus the advaitin's argument is siddha sAdhanam.
2) If pAramArthikam, then there are two ultimate realities - Brahman and
the world's absence. Thus the doctrine of non-duality, which holds that
nothing other Brahman is real,  is disproven.
3) If vyAvahArikam, then the absence itself must be sublatable. As the
absence and its counter-positive (the world) cannot co-exist in one
location if they have the same order of reality, the world must have a
different order of reality than its absence. Thus the world cannot have
vyAvahArika satya. The advaitin already agrees that the world does not have
prAtibhAsika satya. Therefore the only option left is that the world has
pAramArthika satya. Thus there is arthAntara. The advaitin had wanted to
prove the world was mithyA, but ended up proving it is pAramArthika satya.

The siddhikAra had not refuted the first option as that is not the position
of the advaitin. He had refuted the second option by holding that
pAramArthika abhAva, was Brahman itself. That is, abhAva is adhikaraNa
svarUpam. Therefore, there is no harm to the doctrine of non-duality.
However, the siddhikAra does not hold the status of the absence as
pAramArthika to be the siddhAnta. His true intention is to establish that
both the object and its absence are vyAvahArika. Thus he says:

*abhAva is vyAvahArika* अतात्त्विक एव वा निषेधोऽयम् | in fact, the absence
is not pAramArthika . The use of "एव" by the siddhikAra emphasises that his
view is that abhAva is not pAramArthika (although the arguments of the
nyAyAmritakAra were refuted even assuming abhAva was pAramArthika).
अतात्त्विकत्वेऽपि न प्रातिभासिक:, किन्तु, व्यावहारिक: | While not being
pAramArthika, it is not prAtibhAsika, but vyAvahArika.
नच - तर्हि निषेधस्य बाध्यत्वेन तात्त्विकसत्त्वाविरोधित्वादर्थान्तरमिति -
वाच्यं ; Do not argue thus - "then, if the absence is vyAvahArika, it must
be sublatable, and therefore this leads to arthAntara as such a sublatable
absence cannot refute the world's pAramArthikatvam."


The sublatability of absence does not imply the unsublatability of its
pratiyogi. Let us consider the example of a person who sees an elephant in
a dream. Later, in the dream itself he realises that the elephant was only
an illusion. He had mistaken some other object, say a rock, as the
elephant. Thus both the dream elephant and its absence are prAtibhAsika, as
they both are dreamt. Therefore, while the dream elephant's absence is
sublatable (as it prAtibhAsika), that does not necessarily imply that the
abhAva pratiyogi, the dream elephant must be unsublatable.

स्वाप्नार्थस्य स्वाप्ननिषेधेन बाधदर्शनात् The object seen in a dream and
its absence are both sublatable.
निषेधस्य बाध्यत्वं पारमार्थिकसत्त्वाविरोधित्वे न तन्त्रं There is no rule
that the sublatability of absence means that it will be non-contradictory
to the unsublatability of the counter-positive.

The wording is a little tricky here, so we will dwell on it for a bit. The
siddhikAra wants to establish an important principle here. He says that in
order for us to use the degree of reality of the absence to refute the
reality of the object, this condition must be met -
* the absence needs to be either of the same order of reality as the
object, or a higher order of reality than the object.*
Let us consider these three examples to see the principle in effect:
1) A person sees an elephant in a dream, and within the dream realises that
what he saw was a rock. Thus the absence of the elephant proves the
mithyAtva of the elephant within the dream itself. Both the elephant and
its absence are prAtibhAsika. Thus even if abhAva and its pratiyogi share
the same state of reality, the abhAva can prove the mithyAtva of the
2) A person sees an illusion of silver in the shell, and later realises
that the silver was never present there. Here, the absence of shell-silver
(vyAvahArika) is of a higher order of reality than the shell silver
(prAtibhAsika). Here too the absence is able to prove the mithyAtva of the
3) A person sees real silver. He later erroneously thinks that it was not
silver (ie silver was absent). This illusion is later corrected. In this
case, the silver is vyAvahArika, but the silver's absence is prAtibhAsika.
In this case, the abhAva is incapable of establishing the pratiyogi's

Therefore, avirodhitvam, ie the inability of the abhAva to establish the
sublatability of the pratiyogi, is not based on the sublatability of the
abhAva itself, but is based on whether the abhAva is of a lower order of
reality than the pratiyogi or not.

निषेधस्य बाध्यत्वं पारमार्थिकसत्त्वाविरोधित्वे न तन्त्रं  किन्तु
निषेध्यापेक्षया न्यूनसत्ताकत्वम् The sublatability of the absence does not
confer unsublatability on the pratiyogi; on the other hand, the
unsublatability of the pratiyogi is as a result of the lower order of
reality of its absence.

प्रकृते च तुल्यसत्ताकत्वात् कथं न विरोधित्वं in the current context, as
both the world and its absence are of an equal order of reality the absence
of the world is sufficient to prove its mithyAtva too.

This raises an issue.  The negative of a negative is positive and the
absence of the absence of a thing is the object's presence. Upon brahma
jnAna, absence being vyAvahArika, is sublated. That is, the absence is
absent. Will the world's presence not be established upon brahma jnAna?
This is the next objection raised by the nyAyAmritakAra.

*The denial of a denial is not affirming the original*
नच - निषेधस्य निषेधे प्रतियोगिसत्त्वापत्तिरीति - वाच्यं;  The siddhikAra
says: Do not argue thus - "the negation of a negation leads to the
counter-positive's reality."

Why? The denial of a denial leads to the affirmation of the original only
under certain circumstances. If only the pratiyogi is being negated, then
the subsequent negation of the negation will establish the reality of the
pratiyogi. However, if both absence and its counter-positive are negated,
then the sublation of the absence, does not establish the reality of the

It sounds good, but is there an example where both absence and its
counter-positive are simultaneously negated? In nyAya, there is. The
naiyyAyika mentions that there are four kinds of absence:

1) prAg abhAva - the absence of an object before it is created.
2) dhvamsa abhAva - the absence of an object after it is destroyed.
3) atyantAbhAva - the total absence of the object.
4) anyonyAbhAva - the absence of another object in this object.

According to nyAya, prAgabhAva (prior absence) and dhvamsa abhAva
(posterior absence) are said to exist in the pratiyogi's upAdAna kAraNa
(the material cause). However, atyantAbhAva (absolute absence) does not
exist in the upAdAna kAraNa.  For example, the pot's prior absence and
posterior absence are present in clay, but absolute absence is absent.
Meaning, a lump of clay may be converted into a pot in the future, thus the
pot's prAgabhAva can be said to be present in clay. Similarly, after the
pot is destroyed, it gets destroyed into pot shards, which are nothing but
clay. Thus, dhvamsAbhAva is also present in clay. However, one cannot say
that a pot was not ever present in this clay or it will not ever be present
in this clay. Thus atyantAbhAva of the pot cannot be said to be existing in
the clay. Further, when it is just a lump of clay, the pot itself is not
present in it, in the current moment. Thus while the upAdAna kAraNa of an
object contains the prAgabhAva and dhvamsAbhAva, it does not contain the
atyantAbhAva and the pratiyogi, according to the naiyyAyika.

This is the example used by the siddhikAra. In the instance of clay, both
pratiyogi and atyantAbhAva are absent. In this case, when we negate the
pot's atyantAbhAva in the clay, it does not necessarily mean its pratiyogi,
the pot is present in the clay right now. Thus the denial of a denial need
not necessarily imply the satyatva of the pratiyogi.

Similarly, in the shruti sentence, neha nAnAsti kinchana, *both* the world
and its absence are being negated in Brahman, therefore, the reality of the
world is not established on brahma jnAna when the negation is sublated.

(To be continued)


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