MadhusUdana started by accepting the definition of unreality (of the world) as "pratipanna-upAdhau traikAlikanishhedha-pratiyogitvam.h" (please see advaita-siddhi 10). Unreality is that which is subject to absolute negation (negation for all times) in the substratum where it is cognized. So the opponent asks: Now, how do you classify this absolute negation that you speak of? Is this absolute negation pAramArthika, vyAvahArika or prAtibhAsika? We have seen how MadhusUdana has answered this question by pointing out that the absolute negation can be treated as pAramArthika, identical with Brahman. In doing so, there is no harm done to the non-duality principle. Also, the opponent cannot insist on the rule that a negation and its counter-positive (pratiyogin) have to have the same order of reality (sama-sattAka), because an exception that breaks the rule is readily found in the case of an illusion such as the silver-in-nacre illusion. The illusory silver is prAtibhAsika but its negation is pAramArthika if the substratum of illusion is treated as Brahman Itself or at least vyAvahArika, if the substratum is taken to be nacre.
Having shown how the negation can be pAramArthika, MadhusUdana now shows how the negation may also be treated as vyAvahArika. This corresponds to the unreal part of the negation.The basis of this approach to analyzing the negation is found in such treatises as the dR^ig-dR^ishya-viveka which says:
asti bhAti priyaM rUpaM nAma chetyaMshapaJNchakam.h |
AdyatrayaM brahmarUpaM jagadrUpaM tato dvayam.h || 20 ||
Everything has five factors: 1) Existence, 2) Consciousness 3) Bliss, 4) Name, and 5) Form. Of these, the first three are of the
nature of Brahman and the last two (Name and Form) belong to the world.
khaMvAyvagnijalorvIshhu devatiryaN^.h narAdishhu |
abhinnAssachchidAnandAH bhidyete rUpanAmanI || 21 ||
In the elements, space, air, fire, water, and earth, in Gods, animals, and humans, (and other things in the world) what is non-different (constant, unchanging) are Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss. What are different (among all these things) are the Name and Form aspects.
[The first verse above also occurs in the sarasvatI-rahasya-upanishhad.]
When the world is negated, the sachchidAnanda aspect, which is un-negatable, remains. The nAma-rUpa aspects are negated. These were never real to begin with.
A rough analogy, that has its own limitations, may be given to illustrate the two aspects of negation. Suppose we see a pot on the ground. Then the pot is removed. For a while after the pot has been removed, we "feel" the absence of the pot, although we continue to perceive the ground. During this phase, we perceive, in some sense, the absence of the pot, as well as the ground. Subsequently, we forget all about the pot. At this point, we are only aware of the ground, not the pot or its absence. Both the pot and its absence have been forgotten. There is no memory of either having existed.
In such a case, where the negation is cognized as different from the substratum, the negation can be taken to be the same order of reality as the thing that is negated, the pratiyogin. This is what MadhusUdana says next.
atAtvika eva vA nishhedho .ayam.h | atAtvikatve .api na prAtibhAsikaH,
kiMtu vyAvahArikaH| nacha - tarhi nishhedhasya bAdhyatvena
avirodhitvAdarthAntaram-iti vAchyam.h | svApnArthasya svApnanishhedhena
bAdhadarshanAt.h | nishhedhasya bAdhyatvaM
na tantram.h, kiMtu nishhedhyApexayA nyUnasattAkatvam.h | prakR^ite cha
tulyasattAkatvAt.h kathaM na virodhitvam.h |
atAtvika eva - only unreal, vA - Or, nishhedho .ayam.h - this negation, atAtvikatve .api - Even if it is unreal, na prAtibhAsikaH - it is not illusory, kiMtu vyAvahArikaH - but empirical, nacha - And (it) cannot, tarhi nishhedhasya - then, of the negation, bAdhyatvena - due to being sublatable, tAtvikasattva-avirodhitvAd-arthAntaram - due to being not opposed to the reality of (the world), there is the defect of arthAntara (proving something other than what was intended), iti vAchyam.h - be said thus, svApnArthasya - of the dream-object, svApnanishhedhena - by negation in the dream, bAdhadarshanAt.h - because of experiencing the sublation, nishhedhasya - of the negation, bAdhyatvaM - sublatability pAramArthikasattva-avirodhitve - in being not opposed to the absolute reality, na tantram.h - is not dependent (does not imply), kiMtu nishhedhyApexayA - but as compared to what is negated, nyUnasattAkatvam.h - having a lower order of reality, prakR^ite cha - And in the point under discussion, tulyasattAkatvAt.h - because of the equal order of reality, kathaM na - how is there no, virodhitvam.h - opposition.
Or we may say that this negation (of the world) is unreal. Even though it is unreal, it is not illusory (prAtibhAsika), but empirical (vyAvahArika). And (you) cannot say:"Since the negation, that is itself sublatable, cannot be in opposition to the reality (of the world), there is the defect of proving something other than intended." (Why?) Because, of the instance of sublation of a dream-object along with its dream-negation. There is no dependence or implication of the non-opposition to absolute reality on the sublatability of the negation, but on the negation's being of a lower order of reality than the thing that is negated. In the present case, there is equality of the order of reality (of the negation and the thing that is negated, ie. the world). So how is there no opposition (to the reality of the world)?
MadhusUdana says here that the negation of the world can be viewed as vyAvahArika. This prompts an objection: If the negation of the world is
vyAvahArika, then this negation should itself be sublated. Upon sublation of the negation of the world, the world's reality, not unreality, would be affirmed. That means the advaitin is proving something other than what he intended, a defect called arthAntara. To this objection, MadhusUdana replies that it is not the case that world's reality would be affirmed upon sublation of the negation of the world. In the example of a dream, an object in the dream may be negated later in the same dream. And the negation itself is negated upon waking up. This does not result in the dream-object becoming real in the waking state! So what implies the reality of a thing is NOT the mere fact that its negation is sublatable, but the fact that such negation is of a lesser order of reality than that of the thing itself.
For example, if we see a rope in semi-darkness and imagine it to be a snake, we may say "There is no rope." Here we are negating the rope. But this negation is illusory (prAtibhAsika). Upon removal of the illusion, we realize that the thing seen before is indeed a rope. So the rope, which was negated before, is being affirmed (as vyAvahArika). What has happened here is that the reality order of the negation is prAtibhAsika which is less than the reality order of the rope, vyAvahArika.
It is only in such cases that the reality of the thing negated may be affirmed, not otherwise. In the case under discussion, the negation of the world being described and the world are of the same order of reality. So the mere sublatability of the negation cannot make the world real.