BSB - Sri Saxena's text / Part 2

Ravisankar S. Mayavaram miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM
Mon Oct 9 14:53:59 CDT 2000

Author:  Sri Subhanu Saxena (subhanu at
Copyright: Sri Subhanu Saxena (subhanu at
Note: Sanskrit text changed to ITRANS 5.2 by Ravi
Please refer to for details. Also
I am adding the orginal text of sha.nkara as it is.

Original document of shrI Saxena is at


Original Text continuation:

tathaapi anyonyasmin.h anyonya aatamakataa.m anyonya dharmaaH cha
adhyaasaH itara itara avivekena atyanta viviktayoH dharma dharmiNoH
mithyaj~naana nimittaH satyaanR^ite mithuniikR^itya "ahamida.m"
"maamedamiti" naisargiko.aya.m loka vyavahaaraH |
Sri Saxena's notes:

yuShmadasmat.h  pratyaya adhyAso mithyeti bhavitu.m yuktam.h

In a manner that is classic of sha.nkara's style, the author of the
bhAShyam.h begins with an objection. The objection runs as follows:
Atman is real, and is the eternal subject I . Everything else is not
real, and is perceived as a separate object you (yuShmat.h). How is it
possible to confuse or superimpose (adhyAsa) the distinct concepts
(pratyaya) of subject and object (the "I" and the "you"), and related
attributes (dharma-s), as they are by nature as different as night and
day (tamah prakAshavat.h)? Such confusion should be impossible
(mithyeti bhavitu.m yukta.m). sha.nkara's objection simply states that,
in theory, it should be crystal clear to all what reality is, since it
is so different from the unreal, so what is all the fuss about, and
what is the need to write a whole book about reality and how to
perceive it?

sha.nkara's reply runs as follows:

tathApi anyonyasmin, naisargiko.aya.m loka vyavahAraH

It is, however, a matter of common experience (loka vyavahAraH),
that, through lack of discrimination (avivekena), we superimpose
concepts on each other (anyonyasmin.h anyonyAtmakatA.m) and their
attributes (anyonyadharmAn.h cha adhyAsa), even though they and their
attributes are utterly distinct in nature (atyanta viviktayoH
dharma-dharmiNoH), impelled by false knowledge (mithyAjnAna nimittaH),
it is an innate human error (naisargikaH) to confuse the real and the
non-real or the "I" and "mine" (satyAnR^ite mithunIkR^itya, aha.m ida.m
mameda.m iti).

In other words, sha.nkara tells us, but common experience shows us
that we do it all the time! We see duality where in reality there is
none, we mistake one thing for another every day?. That we do this is
not through any mystery but is innate. The mixing up is
adhyAsa. sha.nkara will later go on to say that this adhyAsa has
always been there, and is therefore beginingless. It is important to
make an important clarification here.  sha.nkara proceeds on the same
basis as the shruti, which takes it as axiomatic that brahman.h is the
ultimate reality. We find very few instances where discussions occur
to "prove" that the correct view of the world is that there is an
Ultimate Reality called brahman.h. For sha.nkara and the shruti this
was self evident that Atman is self -established (svaya.m
prasiddhatvaat.h). Viewed from this transcendental viewpoint of reality
it is clear why sha.nkara views this mixing of the real and the non
real as an error. This is fundamental to understanding sha.nkara's
tradition of advaita.  All that is required for knowledge is to remove
this error to reveal brahman.h, and the universe will naturally be seen
in its true light

NB: A side note for the specialists. If you want to stick to the
essence of the meaning, skip the next paragraph

In this passage we find the first divergence of opinion amongst post
sha.nkara commentators. In the panchapAdikA sub-commentary, attributed
to padmapAda, the word mithyAj~nAna is explained as "mithyA cha tat.h
aj~nAna.m cha", meaning an unreal ignorance. The other way to decompose
this word is as "mithyA cha tat.h j~nAnam cha", meaning a
or false knowledge.  Using the former definition , the sub-commentator
has explained that the cause of this adhyAsa or avidyA is some other
material cause (upAdAna kAraNa) that he defines as a mysterious
avidyA shakti, that is indescribable (anirvachanIya), and inert
(jaDAtmikA). The later writers have used the term mulAvidyA, or Root
Ignorance, for this material cause, and equate it with the term
mAyA. This gives a different flavour to the nature of avidyA than a
literal reading of mithyAj~nAna. The question as to whether sha.nkara
really meant just false knowledge or something more mysterious is the
subject of great debate. This is not the place to go in to this in
detail. I will be explaining the adyAsa bhAShyam.h using the literal
meaning of simply false knowledge.

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