advaita-siddhi 13 (Madhusudana's reply)

Charles Wikner WIKNER at NAC.AC.ZA
Mon Mar 6 10:02:29 CST 2000

On Thu, 2 Mar 2000, Anand Hudli <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> 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.

That sounds like the advaita position.

> 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
> anupalabdhi.

Why subsequently take this non-advaita position ?????

I have no training in formal logic, Eastern or Western, so please
forgive my responses being descriptive/explanatory rather than in
term of abstract logic.


> 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.

That does not seem a valid instance of negation from anupalabdhi,
but merely an inference (anumAna): i.e. the pot may still exist,
it is just somewhere else.

A more appropriate illustration is silver-nacre (or snake-rope or
thief-post), where the negation of the illusory silver reduces to
its nacre substratum: the silver never is there (past, present or

I may be missing the thread of the argument, but I would think
that MadhusUdana would now be showing that, at the pAramArthika
level, the knowledge and the negation and the substratum of the
world are not other than Brahman.  To explain:

Let Brahman = sat-cit-Ananda
  and world = sat-cit-Ananda + nAmA-rUpa

Negation of nAma-rUpa is by knowledge (cit), with the negation as
the content of that knowledge; all this resolves to the substratum
which is non-different from Brahman, therefore advaita holds good.
Any opposition to this must take some sort of dvaita standpoint:
either nAma-rUpa is an independent reality separate from its
substratum of sat-cit-Ananda, or else the nAma-rUpa has its own
substratum of sat-cit-Ananda which is separate from the
sat-cit-Ananda of Brahman.

To illustrate, using the wave-ocean analogy: according to advaita
it is all water and the wave is an illusory transient appearance
superimposed upon that water; but the dvaita view must assume that,
either the wave is separate from the water (waterless waves!), or
that the waves are independent lumps of water floating on top of
the ocean!

Describing the world as sat-cit-Ananda + nAma-rUpa is in fact the
prAtibhAsika view: an illusory superimposition upon a real substratum.
However, the world at the vyAvahArika level is described differently:
the real remains real (Brahman), and the unreal (horns of a hare, son
of a barren woman) is never seen, but the world is neither real
(because it changes) nor is it unreal (because you see it), and is
therefore logically indeterminate (anirvacanIya) or false (mithyA).

The problem arises when texts (such as this one) speak of asat or
abhAva: are they referring to prAtibhAsika or vyAvahArika level ?
Furthermore, the objection and response may be at different levels.
Adding technical terminology and very long compound words, makes
translation difficult and very slow (for me anyway); nevertheless,
I had a go at the text of this post.  For comparison:

> advaita-siddhi text:
> prapaJNchanishhedha-adhikaraNIbhUta-brahmAbhinnatvAnnishhedhasya
> tAtvikatve .api na-advaitahAnikaratvam.h | na cha tAtvikAbhAva-
> pratiyoginaH prapaJNchasya tAtvikApattiH, tAtvikAbhAvapratiyogini
> shuktirajatAdau kalpite vyabhichArAt.h |
> Translation:
> (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.

With regard to the reality of the negation, it is not detrimental
to advaita because the world, as the substratum of the negated
phenomena, is not different from Brahman.  And the real aspect of
the phenomenal world is not dependendent upon "real" non-existence
(absolute negation, total absence ??); the dependence upon a "real"
non-existence in an illustration such as silver-in-nacre, is due to
false reasoning.
                 [ copyleft, all wrongs reserved ]

I confess that I have not followed this series of posts closely: it
is the sort of text that I would skim lightly until it reaches some
sort of (intermediate) conclusion, and then I (may) go over the whole
argument at one sitting.  But if, in skimming, I come across something
that jars (such as anupalabdhi here), I treat it as an opportunity
to test and correct my own understanding, to remove a little ignorance,
so do please shoot down or correct my opinions where they differ from
traditional advaita vedAnta.

Regards, Charles.

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

Archives :
Help     : Email to listmaster at
Options  : To leave the list send a mail to
           listserv at with
           SIGNOFF ADVAITA-L in the body.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list