[Advaita-l] pramA and bhRAnti

Jay Nelamangala jay at r-c-i.com
Thu Jun 12 10:06:25 CDT 2003

Wrong knowledge is called bhrAnti.   It is better understood by contrasting
it with right knowledge.  There is a rope.   A person mistakes it for snake.
His mistake is embodied in the judgement "This is a snake". Owing to
some mistake or other,  he has the judgement "This is snake" in place of
"This is rope".  Of these latter is correct and former is wrong.
The latter is correct because it presents the object as it is.

The analysis two kinds of judgement,  right and wrong, gives us the 
notion of truth and error.  Truth is the property of that knowledge which
presents the object as it is.  Objects of experience are of two kinds -
positive and negative.  The objects such as jar are positive and the
absence of these objects is negative.  That is positive which is 
apprehended at the very first instance of its apprehension as existent.
A negative thing is apprehended at the very first instance of its
apprehension as non-existent.   Correct knowledge at the fist instance,
presents the positive as existent and the negative as non-existent,
and wrong knowledge,  at the first instance,  presents the positive
as non-existent and the negative as existent.

In the above example of wrong knowledge,  "This is snake"
what  is presented here is snake,  and it is in fact non-existent,  
but it is presented as existent.

What is really given is only a rope.  It is of course existent.  But,
in the presentation of snake,  it is implicitly taken to be non-existent.
So, in this judgement the non-existent is taken to be existent
and the existent si taken to be non-existent, and  therefore the
judgement is wrong.

Similarly in the case of silver-conch example.   "This is silver"
is bhrAnti because,  the non existent silver is taken to be existent.

When we see a shining object why confuse it for only silver?
There are many objects which shine - silver, diamond, glass, mirror, 
in fact any object that has a shiny surface can glitter. 

Wrong knowledge, "this is silver" does not occur to one who has 
not the samskAra of silver.   samskAra is memory.

SamskAra is not possible unless he  has the right knowlege of silver 
previously.  Unless he sees the shining of the shell,  his samskAra of silver
is not kindled.  The cause of non-apprehension  may be sometimes 
in percipient himself,  sometimes in the object and sometimes in both.   

If the sight is defectless, then he ought to have the knowledge,
"this is a shell"
In the present case, what he sees is only a
glittering shell,  which is not the proper condition for eye sight,
and owing to this defective eye sight, he apprehends the shell as only "this"
having shining but not as a shell.  On account of the apprehension of
shining, his samskAra of silver is kindled.  Why only silver among the
many shiny things that he has seen previously ?
It is due to his particular adrshTa or karma.   With the influence of
this samskAra there is finally the knowledge "This is silver".  The
presupposition for this knowledge are :
1) samskAra of silver  and with it the right experience of silver
2) the right experience of shining
3) the right experience of shell as 'this'
4) the non-apprehension of the shell as shell.

Further, although  'This is silver'  is wrong,  it is not objectless.
As it is caused by the eye,  which is in contact with the shell,
its object is shell itself.  The shell is real as a shell,  but as it is
presented by this knowledge i.e, as silver it is unreal.

Similar is the explanation of any other instance of wrong knowledge.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: </archives/advaita-l/attachments/20030612/497c3f1d/attachment.html>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list