NOTES ON BRAHMASUUTRA-IIID
k_sadananda at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 25 07:57:11 CDT 2000
Notes on Brahmasuutra - IIID
sadaashiva samaarambhaam shankaraachaarya madhyamam|
asmadaachaarya paryantaam vande guruparamparaam||
I prostrate to the linage of teachers starting from Lord Shiva who is ever
auspecious and with Bhagavaan Shankara in the middle and all the way up to
my own teacher.
vaatsalya ruupam triguNairatiitam
aananda saandram amalairnidhaanam|
shree chinamayaananda guro praNiitam
sadaa bhajeham tava paada pankajam||
Who is the very embodiment of motherly affection who is beyond the three
guNa-s, who is full with bliss, and who is the very source of purity who is
the best among the teachers, Shree Chinmayaananda, to his lotus feet I
(sada) always prostrate.
3-10 adhyaasa pramaaNa - proofs for adhyaasa:
Now we take up the fifth topic - adhyaasa pramaaNa. What is the proof for
adhyaasa? It has already been stated that aatma-anaatma adhyaasa is based
on shruti pramaaNa. Puurvapakshi has no basis to question since he has
already accepted in his system of philosophy, the sthuulashariira adhyaasa,
error associated with the identification of aatma with the gross body, on
the basis of shruti only. There are two shruti based pramaaNa for adhyaasa;
one is called arthaapatti (postulate) pramaaNa and the other is called
shaastriiya anumaana (inference from shruti statements) pramaaNa.
arthaapatti, as discussed in Ch.II, is one of the six pramaaNa-s or means of
knowledge. It is a means of knowledge based on an idea, which is postulated
to explain an observed fact. For example, let us say, after I get up from
sleep, I see lot of water flooding all over the streets. Based on this
observed data, I postulate that last night, it must have rained heavily.
Since I had a sound sleep last night, I did not have any direct knowledge of
the rain. However I had to postulate that it rained last night to explain
the heavily flooded streets, particularly in Madras, where the drainage
system is very bad. Without postulating the last night rain, I cannot
explain the observed fact, the flooded roads. One can, of course, make a
different postulate, like for example, a 'miracle' must have occurred last
night. However, such a postulate is not agreeable to a rational intellect,
unless one first proves that the more probable cause, like rain, did not
happen. Since the observed fact can only be explained by postulating an
idea, that idea becomes a valid knowledge. Even though it is a postulated
idea, it is considered as valid knowledge or pramaaNa. Postulation is to
explain, as in the case of the rain, a pratyaksha anubhava, a directly
perceivable experience or a fact. Hence we can call this as pratyaksha
based, or direct observation based arthaapatti pramaaNa. But when we
postulate something to explain the shaastra or scriptures, then it is
scripture based arthaapatti pramaaNa. Shankaraachaarya points out that
adhyaasa or error is an idea postulated to explain the shruti statements.
adhyaasa is not directly mentioned in shruti. This does not imply that it
should be considered as Shankaraachaarya's imagination, just as the
postulation of last night rain to explain the flooded streets is not a
segment of my imagination. Hence adhyaasa should be considered as valid
knowledge, since it is postulated based on shruti pramaaNa. Some
philosophers, for example, shree Madhvaachaarya, consider that arthaapatti
is only an extension of anumaana pramaaNa (see Ch. II), and not different
from it. That is not completely incorrect, since one can possibly come up
with a concomitant relationship or vyaapti vaakyam, such as in the case of
flooded streets that 'where ever there are flooded streets there must be
heavy rains'. But here the concomitant relation between the rains and the
flooded streets does not necessarily apply at the same time and place,
making it as a poor example of anumaana. One can have rains upstate
somewhere at a slightly different times resulting in flooded streets down
stream later. The fact remains, however, that a postulation in arthaapatti
can be a means of valid knowledge or pramaaNa.
Just as in the case of postulation of rains to explain the flooded streets,
arthaapatti can be used to show that 'katR^itvam', doer-ship, bhoktR^itvam,
enjoyer-ship, and 'anityatvam', mortality, are all due to error. In
reality, I am neither a kartaa, a doer, a bhoktaa, an enjoyer and 'anityaa'
a mortal. For this we need to go to shruti pramaaNa, which tells me of a
particular fact -For example the above quoted sloka (Ref. IIIC)- 'hantaat
chenmanyate hantum .... ' is from shruti, kaTopanishad. In support of this
a very similar sloka also exists in Geeta, where only the first line is
slightly different but with the same meaning.
ya yenam vetti hantaaram yashchainam manyate hatam|
ubou tou na vijaaniito naayam hanti na hanyate||
In this sloka it is very clearly implied that aatma is 'akartaa' and
'abhoktaa', neither a doer, nor an enjoyer. It says aatma is not a killer,
killing representing all the actions, and aatma does not get killed, thus
representing that it is not a bhoktaa or an enjoyer. Krishna also says:
'naiva kinchit karomiiti yukto manyeta tatva vit' (Ch. 5-8), one who knows
the truth knows that one does not do any action. He knows that he is
'akartaa', non-doer. Also He says ' ....... naiva kurvan na kaarayan' (Ch.
5-13) - aatma does not do any thing nor instigate anyone to do. ' I am
never a doer', therefore, the statement that 'I am a doer' is an error.
Thus there is a Veda pramaaNa as well as smR^iti pramaaNa. A sloka from
Geeta (5-15) as provided before which shows that aatma does not take neither
merits nor demerits of anyone. There is also another statement in shruti
that say 'aatma is nirvikaaraH' - it is changeless. If aatma is kartaa,
doer or bhoktaa, enjoyer, it will have to undergo a change, since
action/experience requires a change. Hence aatma can be neither a kartaa or
a bhoktaa. From this we postulate that 'I am a kartaa or doer' or 'I am an
enjoyer or bhoktaa' is an error. Thus by arthaapatti pramaaNa based on
shruti as well as smR^iti we postulate that 'aham kartaa', 'I am doer' 'aham
bhoktaa', 'I am an enjoyer' are due to error or adhyaasa.
One may note that shruti based arthaapatti pramaaNa is used not only by
Shankara but also by other aastika daarshanika-s, such as saankhya-s,
nayyaayika-s, etc., when they agree that 'I am mortal' is an adhyaasa or an
error. Thus 'aatma anityatva adhyaasa', the error that self is mortal, is
based on 'aatma nithyatva', the aatma is immortal, shruti statement and
hence it is shruti based arthaapatti pramaaNa. In contrast to other
darshanams, advaita postulates, based on shruti statements, that aatma
anityaH, aatma is mortal, is an error, katR^itvam or doer-ship is an error
and bhokR^itvam, enjoyer-ship is an error.
Similarly, the next superimposition is 'I am a knower' 'pramaatutvam' is
also error or adhyaasa. 'I am the consciousness' is not a superimposition
but 'I am a knower' is. It is again postulated based on shruti statement,
which clearly says that aatma is not a knower. aatma is JNaanam, knowledge,
but not a JNaataa or pramaataa, a knower. In MaanDuukya Upanishad it says
'naantaH praJNam, na bahishhpraJNam, na ubhayatah praJNam, na
praJNaanaghanam, na praJNam, naapraJNam' meaning that aatma is not waking
knower (knower in the waking state, vishva JNaata), aatma is not a dream-
knower (taijasa JNaata), aatma is not a sleep-knower (praaJNa JNaata).
aatma is pure consciousness. Hence Shankara says that 'I am a knower' is
also an adhyaasa or an error based on shruti arthaapatti pramaaNa.
All these adhyaasa-s, I am a doer, enjoyer, mortal, knower, etc., can also
be derived using another shruti statement. 'aatma nirvikaaraH', aatma is
changeless from the statement 'achhedyoyam adaahyoyam avikaaryoyam uchyate'
-this is indestructible, incombustible, and changeless. If aatma is kartaa,
bhoktaa or pramaata, it becomes subject to change. To be a kartaa is to
undergo a modification. It is anubhava or an experience. Similarly to be
bhoktaa or pramaataa - these all involve anubhava or experience of doing,
enjoying, knowing etc. since they are all 'process' involving modification
of one's state from say aJNaata to JNaataa - state of being ignorant to
state of being knowledgeable, etc. In fact, in Sanskrit - any suffix 'taa'
as in bhoktaa, kartaa, JNaataa, etc. indicates a modification just as in
English the suffix 'er' after a verb - doer, enjoyer, knower, etc. involves
a modification. The suffix 'taa' or 'er' indicates an action, action
indicates a process and process indicates a modification or vikaara. But
shruti says 'aatma is nirvikaaraH' meaning aatma is not a kartaa, bhoktaa,
pramaata because 'nirvikaaratvaat', it is changeless. Thus from
'nirvikaara' shruti statement we can postulate that aatma is neither doer,
enjoyer, knower, etc. Since they do not belong to me, the self, then
katR^itvam, doer-ship etc., are adhyaasa.
There is also a third method to show that these are adhyaasa based on
shruti. This is also indicated by Shankara in his adhyaasa bhaashhyam. Any
kartaa or doer has to be associated by a karaNam or an instrument. He
cannot be a doer otherwise. For example, 'mind' is antaH karaNam, inner
instrument. Similarly sense organs are baahya karaNam, external
instruments. Instruments like spectacles or pen, etc., are called
upakaraNam. Thus doer will be associated with a karaNam or instrument of
doing, similarly a bhoktaa, enjoyer will also be associated with a bhojana
karaNam, instruments of enjoyment. Kartaa, bhoktaa, pramaataa - all have
association or 'sangha' with instruments of action. Thus if I am a kartaa,
bhoktaa or pramaataa, 'I am sa+sanghaH' - one who has associated with an
instrument. However scripture says - 'asanghohi ayam purushaH' - that is
aatmaa is not associated with anything. Hence aatma cannot be a kartaa,
bhoktaa or pramaata since to be a kartaa, etc., aatma has to get associated
with something other than aatma. Thus the shruti's statement that aatma is
detached or asanghaH, it is non-doer, non-enjoyer, non-knower, etc. Hence
katR^itvam, bhokR^itvam or pramaatR^itvam, doer-ship, enjoyer-ship,
knower-ship, etc., must be due to error or adhyaasa.
Next we consider another adhyaasa - parichchinnatvam -"I am limited' - I am
here, and not elsewhere - that the notion of space-wise limitation is also
an adhyaasa. How is this postulated? This is because shruti clearly says,
aatma is anantam - limitless. If limitlessness is the nature of aatma, then
limitation is an error.
In kaTopanishad (I-3-15) it says:
ashabdam asparsham aruupam avyayam
tathaarasam nityam agandhavachchayat|
anaadyam anantam mahataH param dhruvam
nichaayya tanmR^ityumukhaat pramuchyate||
aatma is beyond the five sense perceptions namely shabda, sparsha, ruupa,
rasa, gandha (sound, touch, form, taste, smell). It is eternal and
unlimited. Thus it is anaadi and anantam - beginningless and limitless.
One who knows that is beyond the sense of limitations and is eternal. Since
limitlessness is a fact, limitation must be an error - by shruti arthaapatti
pramaaNa. The limitlessness alone is called 'brahmatvam', infiniteness, and
limitation is 'jiivatvam', individuality. Brahmatvam is a fact and hence
jiivatvam is an error. Thus aham brahmaasmi is a fact and aham jiivosmi is
an a error or adhyaasa. Thus parichchinnatvam or jiivatvam, limitation or
jiiva-hood is an error or adhyaasa based on shruti arthaapatti pramaaNa.
Last example, which is also important is 'anekatvam' or 'bahutvam' or
multiplicity of aatma, is also an error or adhyaasa. That is, that 'there
are not one aatma but many aatma-s', is also an error or adhyaasa. That
there are many aatma-s is accepted by many philosophers - saankhya, yoga,
vaisheshhika, puurvamiimaamsa, and even those that give importance to
Vedanta such as VishishhTaadvaita and Dvaita. They all say that there are
many aatma-s. Shankara says 'anekatvam', multiplicity, is also an error or
adhyaasa based on shruti arthaapatti pramaaNa. There are shruti statements
that says aatma is ekaH - single. Shvetaashvatara Upanishad says:
ekodevaH sarva bhuuteshhu guuDhaH
karmaadhyaksha ssarva bhuutaadi vaasaH
saakshii chetaa kevalo nirguNashcha||
(this is very important mantra that Shankara quotes very often)
'eko devaH' and 'saakshii chetaa kevalaH' in the above sloka imply that
aatma is one only.
There is one indweller who is enlivening all being hidden from all
perceptions, while being all-pervading as the inner self in all. He
presides over all actions and all beings reside in Him. He is the witness
and is pure consciousness free from all qualities or attributes.
yasmin sarvaaNi bhuutaani aatmaiva abhuuH vijaanataH|
tatra komoH kashcokaH ekatvamaanu pasyetaH||
when the wise man sees everything is nothing but aatma alone as ekaH, then
where is the delusion or sorrow, when one does not see anything other than
oneself - emphasizing singularity in statement 'aatma ekah eva abhuuH'.
Since aatma ekatvam or is single, is a fact then aatma anekatvam, that there
are many aatma-s, must be an error or adhyaasa.
Thus shruti arthaapatii pamaaNa, shankara shows that 'anityatvam
(mortality), katR^itvam (doer-ship), bhoktR^itvam (enjoyer-ship),
pramaatR^itvam (knower-ship), parichchhinnatvam (limitedness), and anekatvam
(multipulness) - are all due to adhyaasa.
So far we have discussed one pramaaNa - that is shruti arthaapatti pramaaNa
for adhyaasa. Now we will discuss the anumaana pramaaNa for adhyaasa.
In Ch. II we have discussed in detail the technical aspects involving what
is anumaana pramaaNa, the four factors that are involved, and its relation
to vyaapti vaakyam or statement of concomitant or coexistent relation
between hetu and saadhya. The famous example is 'yaatra yattra dhuumaH,
tatra tatra agniH', wherever there is a smoke there is a fire'. This
relation is required to establish the inferential statement, anumaana
vaakyam - 'parvatah agnimaan dhumavatvaaat yathaa mahaanase', the mountain
is fiery, because it is smoky, just as in the kitchen.
Hence to prove adhyaasa using anumaana, we need vyapti vaakyam or statement
of concomitant relation. We can express Shankra's analysis for adhyaasa in
vyapti vaakyam form as 'yatra yatra vyavahaaravatvam tatra tatra
adhyaasavatvam' 'wherever there is transaction there is adhyaasa. Any
transaction proves adhyaasa or error. Why? Shankara says 'aatma cannot do
any transaction' because aatma is different from the body, which is accepted
by all the 'aastika darshanam-s'. An example, Shankara gives for this
anumaana is 'pashhu aadi vyavahaaravat' -just the transactions of a cow and
other animals. 'pashhvaadibhischa avisheshhaat' is the statement in the
bhaashhya. When we are chasing a cow or showing fresh green grass to a cow,
the cow comes towards the grass - why does it come towards the grass?
Because the cow has the notion that 'I am the body, I am hungry and the
grass is tasty treat for me'. Only cow comes towards the grass because it
has the notion or error that 'I am this body'. In motivating the action,
the cow may think, "I am hungry and grass will remove the hunger, and the
fellow seems to be a nice guy offering me tasty grass". Because of deha
adhyaasa only (error or notion that I am the body), the cow comes towards
the grass. This is called pravR^itti vyavahaara or going after for some
thing conducive to one's happiness. This cannot happen without the deha
adhyaasa. Shankara gives another example - if the same person drops the
grass and takes a stick, a cow realizes that this person is worse than any
bruit that I know off, not dependable. It is true, beasts are more
trustworthy and predictable than humans, and there is a danger involved in
staying here - making such an inference the cow goes away from him - this is
called 'nivR^itti vyavahaara', going away form things that cause
unhappiness. This is again due to 'deha adhyaasa', because of the notion
that I am the body. The person is going to beat with the stick only the
sthuula shariiram, gross physical body and not the suukshma shariiram,
subtle body. - thus there is a sthuula shariira adhyaasa error that I am
this gross body. Hence both pravR^itti and nivR^itti vyavahaara takes place
only because of adhyaasa or error. Hence the study of the behavior of the
cow, provides an example or dR^ishhTaanta for vyaapti JNaanam. 'pashhu aadi
vyavahaaravat' - just as the transactions of the cow and other animals,
particularly since the behavior of humans is not different from animals. He
goes after something he likes, pravR^itti vyavahaara and he goes away from
things he dislikes, nivR^itti vyavahaara. Hence we can express the
statement of anumaana in our standard format - manushyaH adhyaasavaan
vyavahaaravatvaat, yathaa pashuvat - similar to our familiar statement -
parvataH agnimaan dhuumavatvaat, yathaa mahaanase. manushyaH is paksha,
adhyaasavaan is the saadhyam, hetu is vyavahaaravatvaat and pashhuvat is the
Hence Shankara says all human activities are based on adhyaasa or error
since all activities can be considered as either pravR^itti going after or
nivR^itti or going away. Hence all human beings have got this adhyaasa.
This is the second pramaaNa for adhyaasa. Thus Shankara provides two types
of pramaaNa for adhyaasa.
With this adhyaasa pramaaNa section is also completed.
Next we will take up the concluding section of adhyaasa in terms of its
implication in human life. That constitutes the last section on adhyaasa.
Questions on Section IIID.
1. What are the two types of proofs Shankara provides for the adhyaasa?
How do the arthaapatti and anumaana serve as pramaaNa or means of knowledge?
2. How does Shankara prove each one of the following is an adhyaasa or an
error: 1.'I am a doer', 2. 'I am an enjoyer', 3. ' I am knower' 4. 'I am
limited', 5.'I am one of many aatma-s' etc.
3. How does Shankara prove that any vyavahaara or transaction involves an
error or adhyaasa.
End of Section IIID.
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