[Advaita-l] Buddhism, Advaita and Dvaita - 6 (Concluded)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jul 20 07:25:11 CDT 2011

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः

Here are the last three (of the eight) verses quoted by Sri Madhvacharya in
his Tattvodyota from a Buddhist source to demonstrate his stand that Advaita
is not any different from Buddhism:

नास्य सत्वं न वा सत्वं न दोषो गुण एव वा ।
हेयोपादेयरहितं तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् ॥ ६

//The Supreme Reality can neither be categorised as 'being' nor as
'non-being'.  It has neither 'defects' nor 'virtues'.  It can neither be
'accepted' nor be 'rejected'.  Such is the immutable reality that is

In the above verse the first quarter नास्य सत्वं न वा सत्वं was commented in
the earlier post as this portion appears in another verse forming part of
this same set of eight verses, though in a slightly different form
(भावार्थप्रतियोगित्वं भावत्वं वा न तत्त्वतः  5).  This was shown as having a
parallel in the Bh.Gita:

*ञेयं यत्तत्प्रवक्ष्यामि* यज्ज्ञात्वामृतमश्नुते ।
अनादिमत्परं ब्रह्म *न सत्तन्नासदुच्य्ते* ॥ 13.12 ॥

//I shall speak of that which is to be known, by realizing which one attains
Immortality. The supreme Brahman is without any beginning. That is called
neither being nor non-being. //

The second quarter says: न दोषो गुण एव वा.  That Brahman has no defects is
very explicitly stated in the Bh.Gita verse:
इहैव तैर्जितः सर्गो येषां साम्ये स्थितं मनः ।
 *निर्दोषं हि समं ब्रह्म * तस्माद् ब्रह्मणि ते स्थिताः ॥ 5.19.

And that the Absolute Brahman is devoid of guNa, even as a virtue, is also
very well known: Shvetashvataropanishat mantra 6.11 :

*एको देवः* सर्वभूतेषु गूढः सर्वव्यापी *सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा*
कर्माध्यक्षः सर्वभूताधिवासः साक्षी चेता केवलो निर्गुणश्च.

All the 'virtues' of Brahman are categorically negated in the famous 7th
mantra of the mAnDUkya upanishat नान्तःप्रज्ञं ..... All the 'kalyANaguNa-s'
of Brahman too do not obtain in the Absolute Brahman, the Turiya.  These can
exist only in the SaguNa Brahman, Ishwara, which / who is the subject matter
of the sixth mantra of the Mandukya Upanishad.  The adorable virtues in
Brahman like anantavIryatva, satyasankalpatva, icchA, apratihata-jnAnam,
etc. can be traced to the shuddha mode of the three guNa-s of prakRti.  For
example, the anantavIryatva is the shuddha-rajoguNa kArya of prakRti.
is the shuddha-sattvaguNa kAryam and the prapancha laya kartRtva (कालोऽस्मि
लोकक्षयकृत् of the Bh.Gita ch.11) is the shuddha-tamaHkArya of prakRiti.
Thus any guNa, virtue, attributed to Brahman is ONLY relative, सापेक्षकम्,
to the jiva/jagat.  In the absence of jiva-jagat there can be no
scope/prasakti for these guNa-s in Brahman.  Anything
paratantra-saapekShakam cannot, therefore, be the svarUpasiddhaguNa of the
swatantra Brahman.  We have already seen a quote from Dr.B.N.K. Sharma's
book, the basis for this series of posts, where he says to mean 'Brahman can
very well do without the paratantra.  Yet out of Its inexorable will It does
with it through an apekShA..'

The third quarter of the above verse is: हेयोपादेयरहितं.  This is very well
enshrined in the Upanishads.  Since Brahman is one's own Atman, It is the
most loved/loveable.  None would like to reject, do away with the Self.
Therefore it is अहेयः/अहेयम्.  For the very same reason that Atman/Brahman
is one's Self, it cannot be acquired/accepted/taken in just as we would
acquire a house or a car.  As the Self is inseparable, it is not a thing to
be acquired: अनुपादेयः/म्.  We can also look at the epithet  हेयोपादेयरहितं
in a different way:

Brahman is the Self of All.  Hence there is nothing that lies 'outside'
Brahman.  Brahman cannot reject or flush out anything from Itself as
everything is superimposed in/on It.  So, there is nothing 'heyaH',
rejectable, for Brahman.  So also nothing is 'upAdeyaH', acquirable, for
Brahman as everything is already in It. Further as Brahman is 'asanga' as
taught by the Upanishad 'असङ्गो ह्ययं पुरुषः’ It has nothing to be rejected
or acquired. Hence the epithet: हेयोपादेयरहितम्.

The last quarter तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् also stands explained in the earlier
posts.  The very word 'shUnyam' was shown to be from an upanishad and also
finding place in the Padma purANam to denote Brahman.
The next verse, 7th, in the series is:
अवाच्यं सर्वशब्दैस्तल्लक्ष्यतेऽखिलैः पदैः ।
अज्ञेयं ज्ञानलक्ष्यं च तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् ॥ ७

//Brahman is beyond any word and it is only indicated by all words.  It is
not a 'knowable' like an object but only grasped/apprehended by Knowledge.
Such is the immutable reality that is 'shUnyam'.//

The first quarter: अवाच्यं सर्वशब्दैः has been explained in detail in this


This term too appears in a different form in the third of the eight Buddhist
verses we have taken up for a deep study:

Also, these shruti passages are the pramANa for the above अवाच्यं सर्वशब्दैः
nature of Brahman:


*यद् वाचा अनभ्युदितं *येन वाग् अभ्युद्यते तद् एव ब्रह्म, न इदम् यद्
इदम् Kenopanishat

यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते अप्राप्य मनसा सह..Taittiriya Upanishad.

The above passages conclusively establish that Brahman/Atman is beyond the
reach of the mind and speech.  However, it is with the light of Brahman that
the mind is known and speech gets its power to reveal things.

This term, in a slightly different form, too appears in another verse (of
the set of eight) which has already been studied before:

निर्विशेषं स्वयंभातं निर्लेपमजरामरम् ।
शून्यं तत्त्वमविज्ञेयं *मनोवाचामगोचरम्* ॥ ३

Now this second quarter of the verse No.7 - तल्लक्ष्यतेऽखिलैः पदैः means
that all words indicate Brahman.  Why is this so?  It is because Brahman is
the One that has transfigured, vivarta, as the variegated world.  The world
consists of objects which have form, 'rUpa' and name, 'nAma'.  Says the

सर्वाणि रूपाणि विचित्य धीरः, नामानि कृत्वा अभिवदन् यदास्ते

The sAyaNa bhAShya for this line is:

यः पुरुषः सर्वाणि रुपाणि देवमनुष्यशरीराणि विचित्य विशेषॆण निष्पाद्य नामानि च
’देवोऽयं मनुष्योऽयं पशुरयं इत्यादीनि कृत्वा अभिवदन् तैर्नामभिः अभितो

//This virAT puruShaH having especially created all the forms consisting of
the bodies of devas and humans and creating the appropriate names as well
such as 'this is a deva, this/he is a human, this is an animal.. etc'
remains doing all the transactions that are required for/in the sustenance
of samsara. //

It is clear from the above that the projection of names and forms from a
Conscious Entity is what is being spoken of here.  All the forms that have
come out from that PuruSha are only He appearing in so many forms.
Therefore all the names that are associated with all the forms in the world
ultimately refer to that PuruSha alone. This is what is stated by the verse
under consideration:   तल्लक्ष्यतेऽखिलैः पदैः .

The second half of the verse: अज्ञेयं ज्ञानलक्ष्यं च तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् too
has been studied earlier as the purport here is already covered in an
earlier verse (of the eight).  The overall meaning is: the Supreme Truth,
Brahman, is not a knowable just as any inert object is in the world.
However, it is this Truth that is known every time we know anything, every
time we get the knowledge of anything.  We have recently seen that the
KenopaniShad mantra: प्रतिबोधविदितं मतम्....teaches that every
knowledge-exercise is a pointer to the Brahman the Consciousness Principle
that is what the knower, the knowing and the known are in truth. This
Reality called 'shUnyam', another word from an Upanishad, never suffers
destruction of any kind.
The last verse is:
यदखण्डं पदं लक्ष्यं सर्वैरपि विशेषणैः ।
सर्वैर्विशेषणैर्मुक्तं तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् ॥ ८

//It is infinite, all-pervading, without any break. All attributes only
indicate It.  Yet it is free of all attributes.  Such is the immutable
reality that is 'shUnyam'.//

By far the best example of the above verse could be seen in the scheme of
the Mandukya Upanishad.  Here, the Upanishad, with a view to teach the
Supreme Brahman proceeds with the declaration: सोऽयमात्मा चतुष्पात् [This
Atman is endowed with four limbs/feet/quarters/parts].  After this preamble
the Upanishad goes on to explain, describe, them.  By taking up the
delineation of the waking, dream and deep sleep states, the Upanishad
presents the Consciousness, Atman, Brahman, as the individual (vyaShTi) and
the total (samaShTi) and the inert world in those three states.

This the Upanishad does with a view to enable the aspirant to 'know',
'identify' the Supreme Atman/Brahman.  After giving all these 'attributes',
visheShaNas namely the three states, the Upanishad finally embarks on the
description of the Fourth pAda, the turIya.  Here, by the words
'नान्तःप्रज्ञं न बहिःप्रज्ञं........the Upanishad negates all the
'attributes' covering the three states that it had 'attributed' to Brahman
in the earlier mantras. Finally the Upanishad presents the Turiya as
'प्रपञ्चोपशमं शान्तं शिवम् अद्वैतम् चतुर्थं मन्यन्ते स आत्मा स विज्ञेयः’
[One bereft of the variegated, projected, attributed world and that which is
Peace, Auspiciousness/Bliss, One Only without any kind of a second which is
the One to be known/realized for liberation].

Thus, here we see that the Upanishad's method is: first 'attribute' certain
'visheShaNa-s' to Brahman, with a view to appreciate Its existence and
understand It यदखण्डं पदं लक्ष्यं सर्वैरपि विशेषणैः   and later 'free It of
all attributes'  सर्वैर्विशेषणैर्मुक्तं.

In conclusion of this series we reiterate that the eight verses, quoted by
Sri Madhvacharya from a Buddhist source with a view to show that Advaita is
only a re-presentation of Buddhism, can be seen to have for their purport
the teaching of the Upanishads/Bh.Gita/puraaNa-s.  In other words, the
verses only substantiate the point that Buddhism has not said anything that
is not contained already in the Upanishadic lore.

What GaudapAdachArya and Shankarabhagavatpada have refuted might be the
Buddhism that was prevalent in Their period through the Buddhistic works
available then. It is said that the Buddhism that obtains today, with so
many divisions, has grown to this shape over the centuries.  It is also the
opinion of scholars that Shankara has formulated His refutation of the
Bauddha based on inputs about their system from Kumarila Bhatta who has
apparently stated that the 'ultimate tattva' of the Bauddha is an 'abhAva'
and not a BhAva padArtha such as the Sat of the Upanishadic Brahman.


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