advaita-siddhi 13 (Madhusudana's reply)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 2 13:53:42 CST 2000

To understand MadhusUdana's reply to the objection (advaita-siddhi 12),
we need to find out what it means to negate something in the world.

 Shankara states in his commentary on gItA 2.16:

 sarvatra buddhidvayopalabdheH, sadbuddhiH asadbuddhiH iti | yadvishhayA
 buddhiH na vyabhicharati tat.h sat.h, yadvishhayA vyabhicharati tat.h

 There are two cognitions everywhere (in any cognition in the world) -
 cognition of the real and cognition of the unreal. That cognition
 which does not change is real (sat) and that which changes is unreal

 [Please note that Shankara's usage of asat corresponds to mithyA.]

In the cognition, "the pot is" (san.h ghaTaH), the permanent factor
is " is" which indicates the underlying existence. What is an illusion
is "the pot". What is cognized is just this permanent  factor
but it is falsely understood to be a pot by the super-imposition (adhyAsa)
of the name-and-form on the underlying Existence (sat). In another
cognition, "the cloth is" (san.h paTaH), again the common, permanent factor
is "is." What is an illusion has to do with "the cloth." In other words,
between the cognitions "the pot is", and "the cloth is", what is
common, constant, and permanent is the factor, "is."
What we see above is a cognition where the cognizer gives a name to a
cognized object, such as a pot, cloth etc. Another type of cognition
tries to assert an adjective or attribute of an object. In the cognition,
"the blue pot is", again what is common, constant, and permanent
is the factor "is." What is illusion is "the blue pot." So what
is being denied ultimate reality is the "blueness" and "potness" of the
object but not pure existence indicated by "is".

 Generalizing this to all cognitions, all objects are real as far as they
 are treated as pure existence, but the moment you start associating them
 with names and forms, the illusion begins. This Existence is the common,
 unchanging, and permanent factor among all cognitions.

 Therefore, status of anything in the world may be said to be comprised
 of two components 1) a Real part and 2) an unreal part. This is somewhat
 similar to the Mathematician's expression of a complex number as
 (X + i* Y) where X is the real part and Y is the unreal (imaginary) part.
 (Electrical engineers prefer to write X + j *Y, using j instead of i.)
 But here we are not dealing with numbers, rather cognitions. So every
 cognition is made of two parts - a real part, E  and an unreal part, X.
 Shankara assures us that the real part E remains the same for all
 cognitions while the unreal part X changes.

 So we come to the interesting question: what does it mean to
 negate something in the world, such as a pot? It is clear that the
 real component of the pot, which is Existence, can NEVER be negated.
 However, the unreal name-and-form (nAma-rUpa) component of the pot can
 be negated. This means only one thing. The negation of the pot also
 has two components - 1) a real component, Existence (Being) and
 2) an unreal component that negates only the unreal component,
  name-and-form (nAma-rUpa), of the pot.

 This is essentially what MadhusUdana says. The negation of the world
 has two components. The real component (pAramArthika) is identical with
 Brahman (sat) and the unreal component is of the same order of reality
 as the world, ie. vyAvahArika. The unreal component  of the negation only
 negates the unreal component of the world.

 We will first see how MadhusUdana explains the real component of the

 advaita-siddhi text:

 tAtvikatve .api na-advaitahAnikaratvam.h | na cha tAtvikAbhAva-
 pratiyoginaH prapaJNchasya tAtvikApattiH, tAtvikAbhAvapratiyogini
 shuktirajatAdau kalpite vyabhichArAt.h |


 (If we hold that) the negation (of the world) is real, non-different
 from Brahman which is the substratum of the negation of the
 world, then there is no damage done to the non-duality principle.
 And the world as the counter-positive (pratiyogin) of the
 absolutely real (pAramArthika) negation cannot be (forced to be)
 absolutely real (based on an erroneous rule that the pratiyogin
 of a negation and the negation itself must necessarily belong
 to the same order of reality.) An exception (to this rule which
 proves the rule to be erroneous) is the silver-in-nacre that is
 (illusory only) and its negation (at the end of illusion) which is real.

 To understand MadhusUdana's stand more, we need to examine how
 negation or absence (abhAva) is treated in different systems.
 The questions are: 1) Is abhAva a category (padArtha) in itself?
 in other words, do we have a cognition of abhAva? 2)  Through
 what means of cognition (pramANa) is abhAva cognized?

 The bhATTa-mImAMsakas, for example, hold that abhAva is a separate
 category and it is cognized through a separate pramANa called
 anupalabdhi or non-apprehension. The naiyAyikas and MAdhvas hold
 that abhAva is a separate category but they do not recognize a
 separate pramANa like anupalabdhi for it, and hold that abhAva can
 be known through standard pramANas such as perception, inference,
 and verbal testimony. The prAbhAkara-mImAMsakas hold that abhAva
 is not a category in itself, nor is there a pramANa such as

 For example, consider the sentence "there is no pot on the
 ground", - bhUtale ghaTo nAsti. Here, an absence or negation
 of a pot is being asserted with respect to the ground, the substratum.
 The bhATTas, naiyAyikas, and MAdhvas all accept that the absence
 of pot on the ground is cognized as separate from the ground.

 But the prAbhAkara-mImAMsakas hold that the absence of the pot
 is really identical to the ground, the substratum itself.

 One of the greatest prAbhAkara mImAMsakas, shAlikanAtha defines
 abhAva in the prakaraNa-paJNchikA :

 dR^ishye pratiyogini yA tadekavishhayA buddhiH
 sA tadabhAvo vyapadishyate | (prakaraNapaJNchikA)

 abhAva (negation or absence) is the cognition of
 the (substratum) alone while the pratiyogin (the
 thing that is negated) is supposed to have been
 perceived (had it been present).

 When we say "there is no pot on the ground", we are really only
 saying that we perceive the ground alone where a pot was supposed
 to have been present. We do not perceive such a thing as "absence
 of pot" on the ground. Therefore, "absence of pot" is the same as
 the ground alone, the substratum. Here the pot which is supposed
 to have been present but not seen is the pratiyogin.

 Earlier, it was stated that the negation of the world has two
 components - 1) a real component, Existence (sat) and 2) an
 unreal component that is the negation of the name-and-form
 aspects of the world. The real component can be identified
 with Brahman, the substratum, and agrees with the PrAbhAkara
 mImAMsA view of negation that equates the negation with the

 As to the objection that the negation and the thing negated
 must both belong to the same order of reality, MadhusUdana
 says this rule is flawed because there is an exception. In the
 illusion of silver in nacre, the silver is illusory (prAtibhAsika) but
 the negation of the silver (at the end of the illusion) is real
 or vyAvahArika at best which is of a different order of reality.

 The unreal component of the negation, which is vyAvahArika, is
 discussed next by MadhusUdana.


 [Other articles in this series may be retrieved by searching for
 "siddhi" in the subject line.]

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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