Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu May 18 12:00:22 CDT 2000
On Thu, 18 May 2000 07:02:36 PDT, nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
>ParamArtha is the truth. Even if one really understands the logic of the
>MAdhyamaka ShAstram or Aryadeva's Catuh ShAtaka, we can understand why the
>world is shUnyam as NAgArjuna meant it. So it is not necessary to be
>ParamArtha to understand shUnyam.
>shUnyam. But other than saying there's a higher level of truth and it is
>quiesence of plurality, NAgArjuna doesn't say anything beyond that.
>If you say the reality of both schools are different, given the nature of
>the schools realities, then believing in one's reality automatically
>excludes the other's reality. Being different, they would be mutually
>exclusive and to believe in one of them is to deny the other.
>>further accentuated with the MAdhyamika's exclusive concentration on >the
>>unintelligibility (shunya) of the phenomenal world. NirvAna is >used by
>>NAgArjuna only as the *conception of reality* and that like >other
>>conceptions are shunya. ParamArtha is what he refers to as >reality and
>>it's the thing in itself beyond human conception.
>>>The correct Buddhist answer to this would be, "To say that paramArtha
>>>exists, as a thing in itself, beyond human conception, is itself a
>This is what is meant by logical quibbling. So to be logically perfect the
>MAdhyamika prefers silence. But by implication and by being a Bauddha he
>endorses the reality.
>Which all the MAdhyamikas have profusely denied being. So by implication,
>they agree with the VedAntin. If you read the MAdhyamaka ShAstram, all of
>NAgArjuna's dialectic is only to prove that nothing is intelligible. But
>that doesn't mean that it isn't. But again he will not say it is, because
>existance itself is a human conception. It's just taking logic to absurd
>levels. But by being a bauddha, by accepting a higher level of reality and
>to even make his logic coherent, he implicitly accepts a higher reality
>(which ofcourse cannot be called existence because only this world -
>- exists! Oh! NAgArjuna is maddening!).
There is a fundamental difference between the advaita and Bauddha
approaches here. Whenever an advaitin negates something, such as the
world, he/she *has* to specify a substratum with respect to which the
negation takes place. The only exception to this is when one is negated
an obviously fictitious thing, a chimera, such as a hare's horns. When
you say "there is no pot", the advaitin will ask "In what substratum do
you negate the pot?" The answer could be "on the ground", "the table", etc.
So it is essential to understand that the advaitin's view of negation
*requires* that a substratum, a basis, be specified whenever something
is negated, except of course in the trivial case when one is talking
about a chimera.
Remember what we read in the advaita siddhi:
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.
Now, the moment the Bauddha says that the world is unreal, we have to
ask the question "In what substratum do you negate the world?" Failure
to directly specify an absolutely real substratum where the world is
negated will lead to the conclusion that the world is a chimera, a trivial,
fictitious thing, such as a man's horns. It does not matter if the Bauddha
remains silent or he says that the substratum is beyond conception, etc.
As long as he does NOT specifically say the substratum is absolutely real,
there will be a conclusion that says that the world is a chimera. For,
if the substratum is not specifically stated as being unsublatable, we
can question the reality of the substratum itself "What is the substratum
of the (first) substratum, if there is one?", and so on. Ultimately, the
Baudhha will be in the same situation. His view will be taken to mean
that world is a chimera, nothing more.
On the contrary, the advaita view holds that the world is NOT a chimera.
The world is negated in the substratum, Brahman which is the absolute
reality. In other words, the world is not imagined without a basis;
there has to be a real basis to the unreal world and it is the
absolutely real Brahman.
Note also that this view is not one invented by later advaitins due to the
influence of nyAya. It has a direct basis in the adhyAropa-apavAda
principle of Shankara himself. Whenever something is spoken of as a
superimposition (adhyAropa), it is equally important to specify the thing
on which the superimposition happens. Without such a basis, the
superimposition can never occur! A chimera, which needs no basis, cannot
describe the ontological status of the world. The whole of Shankara's
advaita requires that a basis for the superimposition be specified.
Sometimes, an attempt is made to show that Shankara's teachings are somehow
vastly different from what later advaitins said. This belittles the advaita
tradition. We can never claim to understand Shankara's teachings more
than other eminent advaitins of his school. We have to give credit to them
for elaborating on what Shankara taught.
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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