advaita-siddhi 13 (Madhusudana's reply)
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 2 13:53:42 CST 2000
To understand MadhusUdana's reply to the objection (advaita-siddhi 12),
we need to find out what it means to negate something in the world.
Shankara states in his commentary on gItA 2.16:
sarvatra buddhidvayopalabdheH, sadbuddhiH asadbuddhiH iti | yadvishhayA
buddhiH na vyabhicharati tat.h sat.h, yadvishhayA vyabhicharati tat.h
There are two cognitions everywhere (in any cognition in the world) -
cognition of the real and cognition of the unreal. That cognition
which does not change is real (sat) and that which changes is unreal
[Please note that Shankara's usage of asat corresponds to mithyA.]
In the cognition, "the pot is" (san.h ghaTaH), the permanent factor
is " is" which indicates the underlying existence. What is an illusion
is "the pot". What is cognized is just this permanent factor
but it is falsely understood to be a pot by the super-imposition (adhyAsa)
of the name-and-form on the underlying Existence (sat). In another
cognition, "the cloth is" (san.h paTaH), again the common, permanent factor
is "is." What is an illusion has to do with "the cloth." In other words,
between the cognitions "the pot is", and "the cloth is", what is
common, constant, and permanent is the factor, "is."
What we see above is a cognition where the cognizer gives a name to a
cognized object, such as a pot, cloth etc. Another type of cognition
tries to assert an adjective or attribute of an object. In the cognition,
"the blue pot is", again what is common, constant, and permanent
is the factor "is." What is illusion is "the blue pot." So what
is being denied ultimate reality is the "blueness" and "potness" of the
object but not pure existence indicated by "is".
Generalizing this to all cognitions, all objects are real as far as they
are treated as pure existence, but the moment you start associating them
with names and forms, the illusion begins. This Existence is the common,
unchanging, and permanent factor among all cognitions.
Therefore, status of anything in the world may be said to be comprised
of two components 1) a Real part and 2) an unreal part. This is somewhat
similar to the Mathematician's expression of a complex number as
(X + i* Y) where X is the real part and Y is the unreal (imaginary) part.
(Electrical engineers prefer to write X + j *Y, using j instead of i.)
But here we are not dealing with numbers, rather cognitions. So every
cognition is made of two parts - a real part, E and an unreal part, X.
Shankara assures us that the real part E remains the same for all
cognitions while the unreal part X changes.
So we come to the interesting question: what does it mean to
negate something in the world, such as a pot? It is clear that the
real component of the pot, which is Existence, can NEVER be negated.
However, the unreal name-and-form (nAma-rUpa) component of the pot can
be negated. This means only one thing. The negation of the pot also
has two components - 1) a real component, Existence (Being) and
2) an unreal component that negates only the unreal component,
name-and-form (nAma-rUpa), of the pot.
This is essentially what MadhusUdana says. The negation of the world
has two components. The real component (pAramArthika) is identical with
Brahman (sat) and the unreal component is of the same order of reality
as the world, ie. vyAvahArika. The unreal component of the negation only
negates the unreal component of the world.
We will first see how MadhusUdana explains the real component of the
tAtvikatve .api na-advaitahAnikaratvam.h | na cha tAtvikAbhAva-
pratiyoginaH prapaJNchasya tAtvikApattiH, tAtvikAbhAvapratiyogini
shuktirajatAdau kalpite vyabhichArAt.h |
(If we hold that) the negation (of the world) is real, non-different
from Brahman which is the substratum of the negation of the
world, then there is no damage done to the non-duality principle.
And the world as the counter-positive (pratiyogin) of the
absolutely real (pAramArthika) negation cannot be (forced to be)
absolutely real (based on an erroneous rule that the pratiyogin
of a negation and the negation itself must necessarily belong
to the same order of reality.) An exception (to this rule which
proves the rule to be erroneous) is the silver-in-nacre that is
(illusory only) and its negation (at the end of illusion) which is real.
To understand MadhusUdana's stand more, we need to examine how
negation or absence (abhAva) is treated in different systems.
The questions are: 1) Is abhAva a category (padArtha) in itself?
in other words, do we have a cognition of abhAva? 2) Through
what means of cognition (pramANa) is abhAva cognized?
The bhATTa-mImAMsakas, for example, hold that abhAva is a separate
category and it is cognized through a separate pramANa called
anupalabdhi or non-apprehension. The naiyAyikas and MAdhvas hold
that abhAva is a separate category but they do not recognize a
separate pramANa like anupalabdhi for it, and hold that abhAva can
be known through standard pramANas such as perception, inference,
and verbal testimony. The prAbhAkara-mImAMsakas hold that abhAva
is not a category in itself, nor is there a pramANa such as
For example, consider the sentence "there is no pot on the
ground", - bhUtale ghaTo nAsti. Here, an absence or negation
of a pot is being asserted with respect to the ground, the substratum.
The bhATTas, naiyAyikas, and MAdhvas all accept that the absence
of pot on the ground is cognized as separate from the ground.
But the prAbhAkara-mImAMsakas hold that the absence of the pot
is really identical to the ground, the substratum itself.
One of the greatest prAbhAkara mImAMsakas, shAlikanAtha defines
abhAva in the prakaraNa-paJNchikA :
dR^ishye pratiyogini yA tadekavishhayA buddhiH
sA tadabhAvo vyapadishyate | (prakaraNapaJNchikA)
abhAva (negation or absence) is the cognition of
the (substratum) alone while the pratiyogin (the
thing that is negated) is supposed to have been
perceived (had it been present).
When we say "there is no pot on the ground", we are really only
saying that we perceive the ground alone where a pot was supposed
to have been present. We do not perceive such a thing as "absence
of pot" on the ground. Therefore, "absence of pot" is the same as
the ground alone, the substratum. Here the pot which is supposed
to have been present but not seen is the pratiyogin.
Earlier, it was stated that the negation of the world has two
components - 1) a real component, Existence (sat) and 2) an
unreal component that is the negation of the name-and-form
aspects of the world. The real component can be identified
with Brahman, the substratum, and agrees with the PrAbhAkara
mImAMsA view of negation that equates the negation with the
As to the objection that the negation and the thing negated
must both belong to the same order of reality, MadhusUdana
says this rule is flawed because there is an exception. In the
illusion of silver in nacre, the silver is illusory (prAtibhAsika) but
the negation of the silver (at the end of the illusion) is real
or vyAvahArika at best which is of a different order of reality.
The unreal component of the negation, which is vyAvahArika, is
discussed next by MadhusUdana.
[Other articles in this series may be retrieved by searching for
"siddhi" in the subject line.]
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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