[Advaita-l] A vichAra on Swatantra & Paratantra (Independent & dependent Realities)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Apr 10 00:50:46 CDT 2010

shrIgurubhyo namaH

***The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy *


*// Madhva (1238-1317 CE)*

* According to Madhva there are two orders of reality: 1. svatantra,
independent reality, which consists of Brahman alone and 2. paratantra,
dependent reality, which consists of jivas (souls) and jada (lifeless
objects). Although dependent reality would not exist apart from brahman's
will, this very dependence creates a fundamental distinction between brahman
and all else, implying a dualist view. //

A vichara on Swatantra (PAramarthika) & Paratantra (vyAvahArika)

These two are not real on the same footing:

1.  The PAramArthika is that in which the vyAvahArika does not exist.  P can
exist by itself. But V has to depend on the P for its existence.

2. Swatantra (S), Hari, exists by Himself. Paratantra, world, has to depend
on S, Hari.

3.  The world is said to be 'anityam, asukham lokam..' in the Bh.Gita 9.33.

4.  Our Goal, ParamapurushArtha, is Hari, Swatantra, and not the world.  This
is because the S does not have the properties of Paratantra world in it.

5.  Sri Purandaradasa says about samsara: 'hEsige (= filth) samsaaradalli..'
in his song: 'IsabEku iddu jaisabEku..'

6.  Hari cannot have the 'hEsige' aspect in Him.

7.  Hari is like a cup of milk.  To have the samsara/world in Him will be
like a drop of ink in the milk.  This will render the milk unfit for use.

8.  Swatantra Hari is adorable only because He is free of the anitya, etc.

9.  The paratantra world is nitya *with *changes (pariNAmi nitya).  Swatantra
Hari is nitya *without* vikara-s (kooTastha nitya).

10.  Since Hari and the prapancha are of opposite characteristics, the two,
Swatantra and Paratantra are not 'satya on the same footing'.  We can say
two things are real *on the same footing *in a situation such as this: In a
dream I encounter two strangers.  The older man tells me that he is from a
nearby village and he and his son have a meeting with someone in this town.

Now, the father-son duo, the strangers that i meet in the dream, can be said
to be real *on the same footing *inasmuch as the two belong to the dream.  Once
i wake up from the dream, both disappear and no longer are called real.

In the case on hand, Swatantra and paratantra are not real on the same
footing because, the Swatantra Hari is sought as the Goal without the
samsara/world being in Him. It is only because He is free from samsara and
has adorable qualities that He becomes worthy of being sought as the
ultimate Goal.  That is the meaning of the term pAramaarthika.  Thus the
PAramArthika Swatantra does not/cannot have the vyavaharika paratantra in
it.  That is what is meant by the expression: the two are not real *on the
same footing. * **

'HariH para-taraH' means that He is Greater, Supreme.  The suffix 'taraH'
means: comparatively. The comparison shows that Swatantra is real but not
the same way as the paratantra is real. 'HariH sarvOttamaH' also means the
same. The suffix 'tamaH' means the superlative.  Why is the paratantra jagat
not called 'taraH/tamaH' even though 'satyam'?  It is because Hari is
independently real but jagat is only dependently real.  This distinction is
inescapable.  That is the meaning of the Paramarthika-vyavaharika divide.  The
vyavaharika can never *get into *the paramarthika and sully the latter. It
is only because this possibility is not there, the Swatantra is taught as
the Ideal, Goal to be sought after by all.  The paratantra, true to its
nature, is taught to be given up.  Sri Krishna says in the Gita (7.14): He
who surrenders to Me alone, the Swatantra, can cross over MaayA, the

The characteristic of vyavaharika is: It will not be
experienced/contacted/seen as real when the Paramarthika is
realized/attained/known.  When Hari, the Swatantra, is realized as the
Absolute Truth, the paratantra jagat will not be seen as real.  That makes
the paratantra a lower order of reality than the Swatantra.  The vyavaharika
is of a lower order of reality than the Paramarthika.

Sri Purandara Dasaru sang: ‘alli nodalu Rama, illi nodalu Rama, ellelli
nodidaru alli Sri Rama..’ and

‘Govinda ninna nAmave chanda….aNu, reNu, tRNa, kAShTha paripUrNa govinda…’

These bring out the experience of the realized person.  As mentioned in the
Gita, such a Jnani will see Hari, the Swatantra, in the place of the jagat,

The above analysis shows that the terms Swatantra and paratantra can easily
fit into the terms Paramarthika and vyavaharika.  In this analysis the jagat
aspect of the paratantra was taken up.  The jiva aspect of paratantra also
will result in the same as above. Put briefly, it happens this way:  When
the paratantra jiva realizes his true nature, he no longer has samsara.  That
means, the jagat (paratantra) is no longer there for him.  He is  no longer
samsari.  He has no dependence on anything.  Sri Krishna says in the Gita
III chapter 18: na cha asya sarvabhUteshu kashchidartha vyapAshrayaH.  He
has no dependence of whatever type on whatever being in all the worlds.  That
is the meaning of moksha from bandha.  He at once becomes freed from his
paratantra nature.  Moksha and paratantratva are antithetical.  Swatantratva
and moksha are synthetical.

The Bhagavadgita says about a Jnani:

bahUnAm janmanAm ante jnAnavAn mAm prapadyate

vAsudevaH sarvamiti sa mahaatma sudurlabhaH || 7.19 ||

//At the end of several lives (of sadhana), the aparoksha jnAni comprehends
My true nature as ‘Vaasudeva is All’. Such a Great JnAni is very rare to
come across. //

As per this verse, the jnAni realizes Vasudeva as ‘All’.  Is the jnAni also
included in the ‘All’? Yes, for if the jnAni is not included in what
constitutes Vasudeva, the statement that ‘Vasudeva is All’ will be an
incorrect declaration.  For this declaration to be true, the jnAni’s
realization has to be admitted to be of the nature: Vasudeva is everything,
including me’.  Thus we have a situation where there is nothing that
Vasudeva is not.  So, the vyavaharika, paratantra, jiva, now Jnani,  and the
vyavaharika, paratantra jaDa prapancha, have no separate existence other
than that of Vasudeva, the Paramarthika, Swatantra Advaita Tattva.  It is
akin to the 'snake' having no separate existence independent of the rope.


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