advaita-siddhi 10 (Second definition of MithyAtva)
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 7 10:02:57 CST 2000
Continuing with the series on the advaita-siddhi, we will study
next the second definition of mithyAtva that is defended by
MadhusUdana SarasvatI. Other articles in this series may be
retrieved by searching for "siddhi" in the subject line.
It is especially useful to be familiar with basic nyAya terminology
as explained in the third and fourth parts of the series.
Without such familiarity, the discussion below may not make
much sense at all!
pratipannopAdhau traikAlikanishhedhapratiyogitvaM vA mithyAtvam.h |
Alternatively, mithyAtva (unreality) of something is that which is the
counter-positive or absential adjunct (pratiyogin) of an absolute negation
(a negation for all three periods of time, past, present, and future) in
the very substratum where it (the thing) is cognized.
This is the second definition of mithyAtva that is taken up by
MadhusUdana in his defense of mithyAtva of dvaita. This alternative
definition is based on shruti statements such as "neha nAnAsti
kiJNchana", as BrahmAnanda says in his gauDabrahmAnandI, "neha
nAnAstI"tyAdishrutyarthe vivadamAnaM prati sAdhyAntaramAha".
The second definition comes from the VivaraNAchArya, PrakAshAtman, the
author of the PanchapAdikA-vivaraNa.
It is important to understand this definition and the significance of
the terms involved. As in the case of the first definition of mithyAtva,
what is alIka or a fictitious entity is NOT the mithyAtva that is
used to describe the world. The mithyAtva of the world is akin to the
illusion of the snake over a rope or silver in nacre. Upon realizing
that the snake is illusory, one exclaims "The snake is unreal. The snake
was never there to begin with, it is not there now, and it will never be
there in the future!"
This is the mithyAtva (unreality) of the world that is being talked
One important point to remember is that the in order for a thing to
be mithyA or unreal according to this definition, it MUST be cognized
or perceived in some susbtratum. This is a necessary condition for
something to be called mithyA. What is perceived is mithyA.
That which can never be perceived, a chimera such as the horns of
a hare, is NOT being called mithyA. Rather it is asat. And Brahman
is sat. MithyAtva is different from these two, ie. mithyAtva is
BrahmAnanda, in his gaUDabrahmAnandI commentary on the advaita-siddhi,
therefore, defines the term pratipanna-upAdhi as follows:
pratipannaH svaprakArakadhIvisheshhyaH ya upAdhiradhikaraNaM tannishhTho
yastraikAlikanishhedho .atyanta-abhAvastatpratiyogitvamityarthaH |
pratipanna means the qualificand of the cognition that has the (thing
that is mithyA) as the qualifier. Such a qualificand that is the substratum
is "pratipanna-upAdhi". The counter-positive of the absolute negation or
the negation for all periods of time in the substratum (is called
mithyA). This definition rules out equating what is mithyA with alIka, a
fictitious entity. Yet another type of negation is also being ruled out
in the definition. What is fictitious is not perceived anywhere. The other
extreme is the negation that is always empirically perceived. For example,
a pot is NOT perceived as existing in the threads that make a cloth.
There are things in the empirical world that are not cognized as
existing in things different from themselves.
If the advaitin means by mithyAtva a fact such as a pot's being negated
in the threads of a cloth, he is stating what is already established
and therefore open to the objection of "siddha-sAdhana doshha".
But this is type of negation is being ruled out by the term
"svaprakArakadhIvisheshhya". In order for the definition of mithyAtva
to apply to the negation of the pot in threads of a cloth, the pot
will have to have been perceived as existing in the threads of a
cloth. But no such cognition of a pot in threads of a cloth ever
occurs. So the definition of mithyAtva does not apply to such
ViTThalesha (who comments on the gauDa-brahmAnandI) therefore remarks:
vastutastu svaprakArakatvopAdAnaM tuchchha-ativyAptivAraNAya
Actually, the mention of "having it as the qualifier" is for
the purpose of ruling out something that is trivial (fictitious entity)
and a definition that is too wide (ativyApti).
Another type of negation or absence is also being ruled out by the
insertion of the term "traikAlika" in the definition. This is to
counter an objection as follows. There is an absence of a thing
such as a pot before it comes into being, called the prAgabhAva.
After the pot is destroyed, there is another type of absence (abhAva)
called "dhvaMsa-abhAva." Does the advaitin mean by mithyAtva an
absence that is one of these types? Or does he mean the mutual
negation (mutual-absence or anyonya-abhAva or bheda) that is
perceived between things such as a pot and the pieces of the pot
after it is destroyed? In either case, the advaitin is committing
the mistake of siddha-sAdhana, proving what is already established.
In order to reject this objection, the definition of mithyAtva
has the term "traikAlika". The negation that is being described
in the definition is traikAlika, that holds for all times. In the
case of prAgabhAva, dhvaMsa-abhAva, and bheda in the above
examples, there is no absolute negation (atyanta-abhAva), that
which holds for all times.
Therefore, BrahmAnanda says:
(The opponent may) charge us with "siddha-sAdhana" by taking the
pratiyogitva (counter-positive-ness) of the abhAva (absence) to be the
difference or posterior negation (dhvaMsa-abhAva) in things such as the
pieces of a pot. (To counter this we have added the term) "traikAlika"
in the definition.
In the next part, we will see how the opponent raises an important
objection to this definition.
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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