[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge -17
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 19 19:21:27 CDT 2008
Before I proceed further Shree Sastriji has pointed out to us that he has discussed the various theories about the errors in perception from the point of different doctrines. These are called khyAti vaadas. In view of the exhaustive details that he has already provided in his web site (http://www.geocities.com/snsastri/ khyati.pdf ) I will provide only a brief description for continuity. Excellent discussion is also provided in ‘Methods of Knowledge’ by Swami Satprakashananda. These discussions are from advaitic stand point. Analysis of error is fundamental to Vedanta and therefore has been addressed by all aachaaryas, each criticizing the other philosophical positions and establishing their own view point. The examples they take for analysis is perception of silver for nacre, and address how the error in perception occurs. Listed below are prominent theories of error analysis.
1. aatma khyAti
2. asat khyAti
4. anyathA khyAti
5. sadasat khyAti
6. sat khyAti
7. anirvacanIya khyAti
1. aatma khyAti or subjective cognition is an idealistic theory that negates the external objects since perception involves mental vRitti as internal subjective thought. Falsity involves in externalization of internal thoughts. Thus inner cognition is apprehended as external object. This yogachaara-theory is rejected on the basis that falsity cannot be separated from the truth, since in both cases the internal thoughts are projected as external objects, whether it is silver or nacre.
2. asat khyAti involves perception of non-existent entities. In the case of perception of silver for nacre, according to this theory, not only the silver has no existence in the place where it is seen, even the nacre has no existence either. Thus both are dismissed as false (one may be more false than the other). Non-existence or suunyam forms the basis for all apparent perceptions as per their suunya vaada. All Vedantic masters reject this maadhyamika philosophy as baseless (suunyam).
3. akhyAti – according to this theory of PrabhAkara school of mImAmsa, error is not in perception but in the lack of appropriate discrimination at the memory level. Thus in the case of perception of silver for nacre, there is a lack of proper discrimination to differentiate input from memory of nacre from silver. Thus neither of them is unreal, but falsity arises in relating remote silver with current nacre. Advaitin dismisses this theory on the ground that silver is perceived here and now, not remote silver is perceived. Object should be there in front to see and not due to recollection of silver seen somewhere to mistake nacre as silver due to lack of discrimination. That ‘this is silver’ is the nature of perception.
4. anyathA khyAti – according to this NyAya theory, silver and nacre both are real and the perception of brightness of nacre is seen as silver that perceived at some other place at some other time due to some supernormal connection in knowledge (aloukika sannikarSha). Falsity consists in relating silver with nacre where it does not exist, but neither of the two is unreal. Advaitin dismisses these arguments that perception of silver now and here should be based on current sense input through organ of vision. Without acknowledging the perception of silver in some form in the object in front, the knowledge that ‘this is silver’ cannot be occurring.
5. sadasat khyAti – this theory due to sAnkhya is based on perception of real (sat) and unreal (asat) object. Silver that is real (in silversmith’s shop) is perceived here as unreal superimposition on nacre. Hence it is the cognition of real silver as unreal in the nacre. Thus it is a conjoint perception of real and unreal object as ‘this is silver’ where nacre is. It is dismissed on the ground that something non-existent is cannot be perceived in front since it is existent somewhere else. The object perceived must be present in front for its perception, since perception is immediate and direct.
6. sat khyAti – the theory due to Ramanuja – who argues that there must be real silver present in the nacre for one to see. Since all objects are fundamentally made of the same five elements, everything is there in everything else. Hence perception of silver in the nacre is due to the presence of real silver there. This theory is dismissed, since it allows perception of anything in every object perceived, since everything is there in everything else. The discrimination of one object from the other becomes impossible.
7. AnirvacanIya khyAti – This is advaitic theory of error. That ‘this is silver’ is immediate and direct perception due to sense input of silveryness of the object peceived. The knowledge of silver is immediate. Non-existent silver cannot give direct and immediate perception as ‘this is silver’. The silver is perceived as ‘here and now’. This knowledge is not sublated until he goes out to pick up that silver that he sees. Thus substantiality of the silver is negated when one tries to pick up and observe closely. Substantial knowledge is different from attributive knowledge. Hence, perception of silver is recognized as false, only when he picks-up the object and discovers that it is nacre and not silver. Silver is now recognized as false. Does the silver existed before – yes from the point of perceiver hence silver is not unreal as its existence was experienced during perception. No one would go after false silver. Hence in the
perceiver's mind, silver is not unreal and it is ‘out there’. He discovered later that silver that he saw was not real since it is nacre and not silver. Hence illusion or false is neither real nor unreal – sat asat vilakshaNam – is defined as mithyA. It is some what similar to prAtibhAsika satyatvam but not exactly in the sense that is perceived by the perceiver’s mind, but at the same time it is not like mental projection as in dream. The object silver is ‘out there’ for him to see and thus external to him like any other vyaavahaarika satyam. It propelled him to act, in order to acquire that silver that he sees. Vyaavahaarika objects exists for vyavahaara that is before and after perception and are available for transactions during transmigratory existence. On the other hand, illusory objects exist only as long as they are perceived. They do not disappear by themselves. Negation of them requires an experience that is contradictory to
their perception. They are not unreal like son of a barren woman, since they are experienced while he cannot be experienced. At the same time they are not real for transactions; I can not make silver ornament out of the silver that I see where nacre is. Since it is neither real nor unreal it is called anirvacanIyam or inexplicable.
With this background we will now take up Vedanta ParibhASha analysis of this error.
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