[Advaita-l] The meaning (s) of the term 'svarupa'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Apr 5 22:15:17 EDT 2019

The term 'svarupa' simply means 'svasya rupam'. The svarupa of a pot,
ghaTa, is what distinguishes this object from other objects. So we have the
definition 'kambu-greevaadimaan ghaTah', that which has a rotund shape, a
neck, an opening on top, etc. as its shape is ghaTa. This is the svarupa of
a ghaTa. And so with any other object, its own, default form.When a ghaTa
is destroyed, its svarupa nasha takes place. It is never here meant that
its upadana karana mrt is destroyed.

There is another dimension to the term 'svarupa' which means 'svasya
vaastavam rupam'. In this case the svarupa of a ghaTa will be its true
nature, the upadana kaaranan, mrt. (mrttiketyeva satyam). The svarupa of a
jiva is 'one that is endowed with body, mind, senses, prana, etc. and
attributes such as samsaritva, kartrtva, bhoktrtva, etc.'. This is the
jivasvarupam. As long as jiva is in samsara, he/it does not give up this
svarupa. However, the jiva's vaastava svarupa is Brahman. That way, every
object has its own default svarupa and its vaastava svarupa, Brahman.

When we say the world is negated 'svarupena' or svarupa nishedha' it is
only meant in the first sense stated above, that is, the world is no longer
something that has its default form that distinguishes it from Brahman. It
is like, not the same as, ghaTa naasha. When a ghata is destroyed by
mudgarapaata, hitting with a stick, it is reduced to just mrt, or pieces or
powder, and can no longer be called ghaTa, the vyavahara one would do with
a ghaTa is no longer possible.

Similarly when a superimposed snake is known to be none other than rope,
the nivrtti of snake has taken place. The one who had the sarpa bhrama no
longer is subject to fear, shivering etc. Here, there is no nasha of the
snake but only nivrtti. The snake svarupa has undergone nivrtti; its
rope-adhishthana not undergoing any change whatsoever due to this nivrtti.
The snake is said to be 'svarupena nishiddha, niraakrtuta', in its
adhishthana. It is known to be not in the rope in all the three periods of
time:   'traikaalika nishiddha'.

Similarly with the world. When it is said 'svarupena traikalika nishiddha',
it is only meant that 'it is not there 'as world' in all three periods of
time. It cannot create samsara for the one who has realized it to be so;
just as the bhramita sarpa, upon knowing its adhishthana, is no longer
capable of creating fear, etc.

This first meaning of svarupa that is stated above is accepted in other
shastras too like nyaya. A ghaTa's svarupa is just its 'ghaTatvena

This distinction of the meaning of the term svarupa will help correctly
understanding the stand of the Vedantin. In other words, it will avoid
ending up with wrong notions.

Om Tat Sat


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