[Advaita-l] samsarga and vishishta - in a verse on Tat tvam asi in the Vākyavr̥tti of śankara
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Dec 16 11:11:26 EST 2017
There is what is called 'akhanḍārthatā' in knowing the meaning of 'aham
brahma asmi'. It is not any relationship like attribute-noun. This is
explained by a verse in the ‘Vākyavṛtti’ of Shankaracharya:
संसर्गो वा विशिष्टो वा वाक्यार्थो नात्र सम्मतः |
अखण्डैकरसत्वेन वाक्यार्थो विदुषां मतः . || 23 ||
Swami Jagadananda's translation and notes:
What is meant by a sentence is not accepted either to be connected with
(samsarga) or qualified by (viśiṣṭa) anything else. The meaning of the
sentence, according to the wise, is an indivisible Being consisting of
In the sentence ‘the lotus is blue’, the words ‘louts’ and ‘blue’ are in
the same predicaments. Hence the word ‘lotus’ is qualified by the word
‘blue.’ The sentence, therefore, means that it is a blue lotus – not white,
yellow or of any other color. Again, the word ‘blue’ is qualified by the
word ‘lotus’ i.e. the blueness does not belong to a piece of cloth or
anything else. In this way the words ‘lotus’ and’blue’ qualify each other.
That is what is called in the above verse ‘samsarga’ i.e. mutual connection
or mutual qualification.
Again, the same sentence may be construed to mean a lotus having the
qualification of blueness and not vice-versa. This is what has been
described in the above verse as ‘viśiṣṭa’ or ‘qualified’.
Even though the words ‘Thou’ and ‘That’ are in the same predicament in the
sentence ‘Thou art That’ (‘Tat tvam asi’), neither of the two constructions
mentioned above is applicable to it. We therefore accept the meanings
indirectly expressed by the words
Based on the above and a Kannada translation of Swami Harshananda, here is
a note on the terms 'samsarga' and 'vishishta':
The idea is: in samsarga there is a mutual sambandha between blue and
lotus. The two are different entities. They are related to each other, as
explained in the note above. Tat tvam asi is not teaching a relation
between two entities. There are no two entities in tat and tvam; the One
consciousness alone appears, owing to malina sattva upadhi (as jiva) and
shuddha sattva upadhi (as Ishwara). When the upadhis are disregarded, there
is One Consciousness alone that shines. In the case of qualifier/attribte,
'this is a blue lotus', again, there is a sambandha between the two
entities: visheshana-visheshya. Tat tvam asi is neither of this type. The
jiva and Ishwara are not placed in a visheshana-visheshya sambandha. The
tricky thing here is: how does one distinguish samsarga from vishishta, for
they both appear similar, when the note above is read? I understand them
to be thus: samsarga: the two words 'blue and lotus' are related in this
way (a) that which is blue is the lotus alone (and not anything else). (b)
the lotus is blue only (and not any other color). This kind of a sentence
helps one determine the nature of the thing in the sentence: lotus.
Vishishta: the two, blue and lotus, are related as attribute and noun.
This helps in distinguishing this lotus from lotuses of various other
colors. Thus, on the basis of purpose: samsarga - determining the nature
of the object. vishishta: distinguishing one object from many of the same
class. Both these are valid vaakyarthas in their own spheres. Tat tvam
asi does not fall into either of these but is uniquely explained as having
akhandaarthataa, where there is no relationship between tat and tvam. A
relationship is possible only when two entities are there.
Thoughts from members here are welcome.
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