advaita-siddhi 12 (Objection by opponent)
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 16 12:51:14 CST 2000
The objection of the opponent is based on the acceptance by advaitins
of three orders of reality as defined in, for example, the Vedaanta
paribhaashhaa of dharmaraaja adhvarin:
yadvaa trividhaM sattvaM -- paaramaarthikasattvaM brahmaNaH,
vyaavahaarikaM sattvamaakaashaadeH, praatibhaasikaM sattvaM
The absolute reality of Brahman is paaramaarthika satya, the
empirical reality of the objective world, which includes space etc.,
is vyaavahaarika satya, and the illusory appearance of silver in nacre
(oyster-shell), etc. is praatibhaasika satya.
The Objection in brief:
The objection by the opponent is aimed to trap the advaitin in an
unrecoverable position by pointing out defects in any assignment
of ontological status to the negation (sublation) used in the
second definition of the mithyAtva.
nanu, pratipannopAdhau traikAlikanishhedhasya tAttvikatve advaita-
hAniH prAtibhAsikatve siddha-sAdhanaM, vyAvahArikatve .api tasya
bAdhyatvena tAttvikasattvAvirodhitayA arthAntaraM, advaitashruter-
atattvAvedakatvaM cha tatpratiyoginaH prAtibhAsikasya prapaJNchasya
pAramArthikatvaM cha syAt.h,
Objection by the opponent: Now, if the absolute negation (of a thing,
such as the world, that is being called mithyA as per the second
definition) is absolutely real (pAramArthika), then the basic principle
of advaita (non-dualism) is destroyed! (If the absolute negation) is
only illusory (prAtibhAsika), then you are proving what is already
established (ie. the reality of the world). Even (if the absolute
negation) is empirical (vyAvahArika), you will be proving something
other than what you intended because (such negation) will not be
opposed to the absolute reality (of the world). The shruti texts
that are non-dualistic will be incapable of revealing the truth. And
(if it be claimed that) the world is illusory, (that will not hold)
and (the world) would have absolute reality (pAramArthikatva).
Let us examine the opponent's objection in more detail.
The opponent says: You define three orders of reality - pAramArthika,
vyAvahArika, and prAtibhAsika. And you have defined mithyAtva as the
counter-positive-ness of the absolute negation (for all periods of time)
in the very substratum where the thing that is mithyA is cognized.
In essence, you would like to categorize the world as mithyA.
Now, what reality do you assign to such a negation of the world?
1) Is this negation pAramArthika (absolutely real)?
2) Is this negation prAtibhAsika (illusory) ?
3) Or, is this negation vyAvahArika (empirical) ?
Regardless of the type of reality you assign to this negation,
you run into problems.
1) The negation of the world is pAramArthika. In this case, you
have a direct contradiction with the non-dual principle of
advaita. BrahmAnanda explains the objection:
advaita-hAniH "neha nAne"tyAdishrutibodhitasya brahmaNi dR^ishya-
(There is) damage to the principle of non-duality as known from
shruti statements such as "neha nAnAsti kiJNchana" (there is no
manifold-ness here whatsoever) (because) of the contradiction due
to the common absence of the "perceived" (dR^ishya) in Brahman.
If the negation of the world is pAramArthika, then you have two
such realities - 1) Brahman, and 2) the said negation of the world.
This compromises the non-duality principle.
2) The negation of the world is prAtibhAsika, illusory. In this case,
you have siddha-sAdhana-doshha. BrahmAnanda explains:
siddha-sAdhanamiti | kapAle ghaTo nAstItyAdibhrame prAtItikasya-
atyantAbhAvasya vishhayatvena siddha-sAdhanamityarthaH |
siddha-sAdhana means that in cases of erroneous cognition or illusion
such as denying the pot in its parts, the absolute absence of the
(erroneously) cognized negation is already established (in another
In other words, if you say the negation is illusory, such as the
negation of a pot in its two halves, such a position is already
admitted by another system (such as nyAya). (A whole is said "inhere"
in its parts as per nyAya. So a whole, such as a pot, cannot be denied
in its parts. Any such denial is erroneous.)
In other words, if you say the negation of the world is illusory or
erroneous, that is already admitted by the realist schools. So you are
committing the mistake of siddha-sAdhana, proving what is already
3)The negation of the world is vyAvahArika. In this case, what
you are saying is that the negation of the world will itself get
sublated upon realization of Brahman. What does this mean?
The world itself CANNOT be vyAvahArika because it is absurd
(a contradiction) to say that the world as well as its negation
get sublated upon Brahman realization. Either the world or its
negation can get sublated at the same time but not both! Therefore,
you are left with two possibilities - a. the world is pAramArthika
(absolutely real) OR b. the world is prAtibhAsika (illusory).
But you deny the world is illusory yourself, and so the world can
only be pAramArthika. This point is stated by BrahmAnanda as:
prAtibhAsikatva-asaMbhavena pAramArthikatvameva balAtsyAditi
(Since the world) cannot possibly be illusory it is forced to be
absolutely real (pAramArthika) only. This is the purport (of the
Again, ViTThalesha explains why the world cannot be illusory when
he comments on the term "prAtibhAsikatva-asaMbhavena" of BrahmAnanda:
(The world cannot be illusory) because (it is admitted by the advaitin)
to remain un-sublated (not negated) by anything other than knowledge
So what is the result of accepting the world as pAramArthika and the
negation of the world as vyAvahArika? These are the defects.
First, you will have established the world as absolutely real
which is different from what you set out to prove. This is the
defect of arthAntara. Second, the shruti texts that speak of
non-duality such as "neha nAnAsti kiJNchana" will have to be
accepted as NOT revealing the ultimate truth because they can
only reveal what is empirical ( vyAvahArika), ie. the negation of
In response to the objection of the opponent, MadhusUdana now begins
iti chet.h? na |
If this is what you say, we say no!
[Other articles in this series may be retrieved by searching for
"siddhi" in the subject line.]
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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