[Advaita-l] Some thoughts on qualifiers - upAdhi, upalakshaNa, visheShaNa

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Apr 19 05:08:44 EDT 2018

Many thanks Venkat ji, for this valuable post. I have a doubt about the
aspect 'kArya anvayi' and 'kArya ananvayi.'  In the first case you have
described the karya as an act of seeing, predicate.  However, in the second
case you say that the action is that of the speaker (who is blue shirted).
While the first one, kArya anvayi, is related to the act of seeing, by the
seer, onlooker, of the blue shirted man, the second case of kArya ananvayi,
the action is of the speaker, the blue shirted man, but not of the onlooker
of the blue shirted speaking man.

Is there anything more than the above statement?  I think a clarification
is needed on this for my understandingl


On Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 7:06 PM, Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste,
> Throughout the veda, Brahman has been described both in association with
> attributes (for example, in 8.1.5 of the ChAndogya upaniShad as सत्यकामः
> सत्यसङ्कल्प:, etc.), and as attribute-less (e.g., in 3.8.8 of the
> BrihadAraNyaka
> as अस्थूलमनणु, etc.). The challenge to advaita has been to justify its
> position that Brahman unconditioned by attributes is the ultimate reality
> propounded by the upaniShads, because the automatic response to this
> proposition is a counter-question - is the lack of attributes itself an
> attribute? That is, is nirguNatva an attribute of brahman?
> Before this challenge can be addressed, we need to take a grammatical
> detour.
> The long tradition of vedAnta has developed the concepts of visheShaNa,
> upAdhi and upalakshaNa, which serve as useful tools in this endeavour. How
> can a language uniquely refer to an object amongst a collection of many?
> Typically, this is by means of adjectives, distinguishing characteristics.
> This concept has been developed quite extensively in sanskrit into broadly
> three categories:
> 1) विशेषणम्  - In the vedAnta paribhASha of dharmarAja adhvarIndra,
> visheShaNas are defined as विशेषणञ्च कार्यान्वयि वर्तमानं व्यावर्तकम्
> (visheShananca kAryAnvayi vartamAnam vyAvartakam). That is, a qualifying
> attribute (visheShaNa) is a distinguishing characteristic of an object that
> is present and is associated with the object in respect to the predicate.
> There are two aspects to this definition - kArya anvaya and vartamAnam.
> To explain, let us consider the sentence - "I saw the man with the blue
> shirt". In this sentence, the qualifier is 'blue-shirted' and the qualified
> is the man. Here the qualifer is a visheShaNa because a) it serves to
> clarify that it is the man with the blue shirt that is seen, and not a man
> wearing some other colour shirt (vyAvartakam) b) the blue-shirt is present
> along with the man (vartamAnam) and c) when the man is seen, it is both the
> man and his blue shirt that is seen, that is, the qualifier,
> 'blue-shirted', is associated with the qualified (man), in respect to the
> activity of seeing (kArya anvayi). Thus the visheShaNa not only present
> with the visheShya, the subject, it also is associated with the vidheya,
> the predicate.
> 2) उपाधि: - However, all distinguishing features need not necessarily be
> visheShaNas. The paribhASha defines upAdhi as उपाधिश्च कार्यानन्वयी
> व्यावर्तको वर्तमानश्च (upAdhishca kAryAnanvayI vyAvartako vartamAnashca) -
> That is, a limiting adjunct (upAdhi) is a distinguishing characteristic of
> an object that is present and is not associated with the object in respect
> to the predicate. Thus the upAdhi is not associated with the vidheya, but
> is present along with the visheShya.
> For example, let us consider the sentence "The man with the blue shirt
> spoke". In this sentence too, the qualifier is 'blue-shirted' and the
> qualified is the man. Here, the same qualifier 'blue-shirted' is an upAdhi
> because, while it identifies the speaker uniquely from other people
> (vyAvartakam), and is present along with the speaker (vartamAnam), it is
> not associated with the action of speaking (kArya ananvayitvam) - that is,
> when the man spoke, it is only he that spoke, not his blue shirt.
> 3) उपलक्षणम् - The idea of upAdhi has been further refined in vedAnta to
> cover the case of upalakshaNa. The vedAnta paribhASha does not directly
> define an upalakshaNa, but the identifier vartamAna present in both the
> definitions of visheShaNa and upAdhi allows us to define upalakshaNa as
> उपलक्षणञ्च कार्यानन्वयी अवर्तमानं व्यावर्तकम्. That is, the upalakshaNa is
> a circumstantial identifier that is not present at the time of
> identification and not associated with the object in respect to the
> predicate. Thus the upalakshaNa is not associated with the vidheya, and is
> not present along with the visheShya.
> For example, let us consider the sentence "The house which had the crows on
> it is Devadatta's". Here, a house is spotted with some crows on its
> rooftop. Later, the speaker uses this is a basis to identify that house as
> Devadatta's house. Thus the crows serve as a unique identifier
> (vyAvartakam) for the house, they are only accidentally in association with
> the house's existence (kArya ananvayitvam), nor are they necessarily
> present at the time of identification (avartamAnam).
> This three-fold classification has applications across advaita vedAnta. For
> example, in postulating the ultimate reality of the attributeless brahman.
> This
> idea was hinted by Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal at a vAkyArtha sadas held last
> year:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2017-
> August/046520.html
> The same idea is invoked in several places in the advaita siddhi - e.g. the
> nyAyAmritakAra says that the akhaNDAkAra vritti, which reveals only the
> svarUpa of Brahman, and no other attributes in association with it, cannot
> sublate the world. His rationale is that any sublating cognition must
> reveal a previously unknown attribute in the object. For example, when a
> person mistakes shell for silver, he does not know that the object in front
> is a shell. The sublating cognition to this erroneous notion is "this is a
> shell". That is, the previously unknown shell-ness is revealed in the
> sublating cognition, leading to the sublation of silver.
> The advaitin argues that the world is sublated on the cognition of Brahman,
> through the akhaNDAkAra vritti. This knowledge, by definition, reveals only
> the svarUpa of Brahman, and no attribute of Brahman, including brahmatva -
> brahman-hood. Thus, the cognition contains no unknown attribute of Brahman
> either. That being so, how can it sublate the world? If the world continues
> to be unsublated even with brahmajnAna, to argue that the world is mithyA
> is incorrect - this in summary, is an argument that he makes.
> The siddhikAra, in reply, says that it is not necessary for a sublating
> cognition to reveal a hitherto unknown attribute of the mistaken object.
> For example, if a cognition reveals the price of shell in the marketplace
> which the seer did not know until then, that is not going to help sublate
> the silver. All that is required is that the sublating cognition reveal
> that the object in front is shell.
> Therefore, one must refine the requirement for sublating cognition to say -
> if a cognition reveals a thing, the ignorance of which led to the erroneous
> cognition, then it is sufficient to sublate the error. The ignorance of
> Brahman led to the cognition of the world. akhaNDAkAra vritti reveals the
> svarUpa of Brahman, and not Brahman endowed with attribute-lessness (that
> is, the akhaNDAkAra vritti does not reveal that Brahma is attributeless, it
> reveals Brahman, that's all). Thus vedic sentences such as 'neti, neti'
> which negate any duality in Brahman, use the absence of duality as an
> upalakshaNa to point to Brahman, without revealing that Brahman is endowed
> with attribute-lessness  - exactly like the sentence "the house which had
> the crows is Devadatta's" uses the presence of crows to identify the house,
> without indicating that the house is endowed with the presence of crows.
> Therefore, knowing that it is Brahman that is present everywhere, is both
> necessary and sufficient to sublate the world.
> This idea was hinted at in the vAkyArtha sadas.
> We had recently discussed another application of the qualifier concept in
> another context:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2018-March/048787.html
> .
> Regards,
> Venkatraghavan
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