[advaitin] Brahmasuutra-3a

K. Sadananda sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Mon Sep 4 11:14:04 CDT 2000

Thanks Dennis for your comments and input.  I will try to cut down the
length.  Shree Ravi also suggested that.   I am trying to post at least
upto something that makes somewhat of a logical break than an artificial
break.  In Notes IIIA, either I had to stop before I discuss shankhaa or
complete and then stop.  I will try to cut down the leghth without
arresting the sequence of thoughts.  I would appreciate input from other
readers as well from their perspective.  After completing the adhyaasa
bhaashhyam I am thinking of providing a questioner to get  some feed back -
particularly from the silent readers - since we donot know whether they are
reading or sleeping!  Hence I am posting this response to all lists.

>Here are some comments, questions and possible corrections on the second set
>of notes.
>Firstly, I am writing before having seen any of the other comments so
>apologies if there is any duplication and please do not reply to any of
>Beautifully clear exposition of the rope-snake metaphor and the adhyaasa
>shankhaa is facinating – how will Shankara get out of that one? I can hardly
>wait – it is compulsive reading!
>I would ask if it is possible to reduce the output a little, though. I feel
>there is a danger of not being able to keep up and I would greatly regret it
>if that happened.
>Adhyaasa – Am I looking in the right place in the dictionary; all I can find
>is the word meaning ‘an appendage’, no mention of error or mistake. What is
>the dhatu? And how does this differ from bhramaa, which you had previously
>said was error or mistake?

I am not sure about the dhatu for adhyaasa - I have to ask my Sanksrit
teacher.  But just a guess work - it may be a compound word made of adhi
and aas - adhi means above - like in adhikaari - aas or its  derivative
implies to sit - like in asiit - It is a word coined by two words meaning
superimpostion - and that is the error we are taking about here.
superimposing something on some other locus.  brama, if one analyzes, it
involves a next step in the mind.  Taking a superimposition as real
knowledge.  It is like illusion. Here brama is error not from the snake
point or from the rope point but from the point of the fellow who is having
the knowlege of that snake.  Hence reference is from the point of knowledge
- whether it is prama or bhrama.  Any negatable knowledge is called brama.
In this case the fellow who sees the snake adhyaasa as real he has now
brama or false knowledge.  That knowledge is negated when he gets rope

This is a subjective brama.  There are objective brama - like sun raise and
sun set.  Here so called adhyaasa is not at individual mind level but at
the collective mind level.  Hence even when one learns that there is no sun
raise and sun set, the apprent sun raise and sun set continues but fellow
who sees can enjoy the sun raise and sun set, knowing fully well that there
is no sun raise and sun set. This is how a Jiivanmukta operates.  Here the
illusion is there but delusion is not there.  Anyway, these are subtler
points, but from your question adhyaasa can result in brama in the mind of
the perceiver and hence he is affected by it in terms of fears and
tribulations.  Both words mean the same in this context only the name
differs depending on what reference it is identified.

>You say that there is always a price (suffering) that I have to pay for
>committing an error but is this strictly true? Is it not the case that
>sometimes no one suffers or only others (or even sometimes oneself or others
>benefit)? You mention your grammatical or typographical errors, for
>example – surely others suffer here, not yourself?  :-) (Actually I don’t
>really think this is true – they very rarely detract from the wisdom of what
>is being stated!)

Why do you think I do not feel bad when I see my own gramatical and
typographical mistakes on print?!  Others suffer and because of which, or
inadditon to that, I suffer for not being carefull or being ignorent.

This problem I discussed to some extent in response to Shree Ravi's
comments.  When I commit error and I do not know about  - I may not suffer
immediately.  Like in a pitch dark if I assume there are no snakes there -
There is no fear and immediate suffering until one bites me.

But once I come to know that it is my error, whether others suffer or not,
I suffer with a sense of limitation.  In the case of the fundamental error
which is the source of human problem, even if I do not know I am sat chit
and ananda and take myself as a limited entity and even if have not been
exposed to Vedanta or similar concepts, there is a natural sense of
incompleteness as a result of that error since inherently or instinctively
one does not accepts ones conclusion about oneself and try to strive for
one's completeness - hence the hunt for pleasures and sense wanting mind or
desiring mind which never gets fulfilled.

As along as we have a rational intellect that is operating, we cannot avoid
these sense of incompleteness or other limitations, whether we know we are
committing error or not.

I donot know if there are any errors that do not really bother us in one
form or other.

>Are you going to be teaching us the curvilinear path next? (I had to laugh
>at that one!)
>Is ‘ou’ an accepted equivalent to ‘au’ in ITRANS? I note that you refer to
>GouDapaada instead of GauDapaada. Shouldn’t it be ‘aMsha’ not ‘amsha’?

You are right - in RIT scheme the au and ou are, I think accepted - it must
have got used to some habits in typing telugu in that scheme. Will try to
be more and more careful -Shree Nandu Abhiyankar of Sanskrit Digest used to
teach me ITRANS scheme and gave up on me!

Please bear with me. I will slowly learn.

>When you start talking about saamaanya aMsha and visheshha aMsha, you use
>the example of ‘there is a rope’ and say that ‘there is’ is the real part. I
>find this a bit difficult. Surely ‘there is’, in this example, is only a
>verbal artifice? If we were actually both present and you were speaking
>instead of writing, you could equally well point to the rope and just say
>‘rope’. In fact we don’t usually point in this situation (perhaps because
>our parents told us that pointing was bad manners!) but are we not using
>‘there is’ just to replace it? Similarly, if I say ‘I am stupid’, I could
>equally well just point to myself and say ‘stupid’. When I say ‘I am stupid’
>there is certainly no intention to state that ‘I am conscious’.  (But
>perhaps I am just being stupid!)

When you say there is a snake - it is not the pointing that I am refereing,
but  to  the 'is-ness'.  First thing you recognize in that knowlege that
there is a vastu or vishaya or an object present.  That much is real and
not only now when you say there is a snake and when you learned 'there is a
rope' - the knowlege of the presence of the vastu or object is not gone -
That there is an object is a fact whether you point it out with a finger or
not.  That much everybody agrees it will not disapper and hence it is satya
aMsha.  Only we do not know is the particual feature of that existing
object because of the dim light.

Actually there has been lot of analsyis by our taarkika-s or logicians on
this perception and the knowledge associated with it.  Opening that subject
will be like 'can of worms'.  To give you some taste, our philosopheres and
tarkika-s differ interms of how knowledge takes place and what is prama and
what is bhrama.  Now just for you to think - if you promise not to apply
this to the notes on Brahmasuutra since I donot want to confuse everyone
by bringing unwanted stuff here-  Can one see an object really? Suppose
there are pair of spects on the table - what do you really see?  how do you
know that there is an object there? You say I see it therefore there is an
object there.  But what do you actually see?  Through the eyes I can only
see a form and a color. Form includes all the different countours and
shapes associated with that object and colors of these different parts of
the objects.  - If you analyze deeply what you see or know are only the
attributes of an object - since form and color are only attibutes and not
the object per se.  Now where is the object knowledge then - how do you get
the object knowledge independent of its attributes!  But are the attributes
the same as an object - They are not - since I can keep the same object and
modify its form and color.  Therefore what is the realtion between object
and its attributes.  Does the existence of an object depend  on the
attributes or the attributes depend on the object. - look like a simple
question but think about it.  There have been different theories put forth
in explaining the relation between the attributes and the object.  If my
senses can only know the attributes and I have no other means to know any
object other than through my senses, then, when and how do I get the
knowledge of the object - that there is a set of spects on my table? - Is
it an inference or a fact? Think about it.

Hence Shree Ramanuja, for example, claims that there cannot be an object
without attributes since without attributes one cannot know the existence
of an object.  He next extends his statement to converse theorm and
concludes that  no object can  exist without attributes.  Extending further
this concept to Brahman, to know Brahman, He should have attibutes, our
experience is nothing can be known without its attributes - Hence He
becomes ananta kalyaaNa guNa ashraya - locus of infinite auspecisous
qualities - through which one can know Him.

Coming back to our snake-rope case - if it is pitch dark even the existence
of an object - that knowledge is also not there - hence no adhyaasa.
Because I see something long or curved etc I have some knowledge and the
knowledge indicates there is a vastu or an object there. Upto that is true
and hence is called satya aMsha. The rest of the conclusion is from my
puurva samksaara or impression since I know snake looks similar to that
object that I see in front.  Remember it is an adhyaasa and bhrama only if
it is not really a snake but a rope.   That it is adhyaasa will be known
only when the truth comes out that it is a rope insted of a snake.

Since I cannot know that it is adhyaasa till I gain true knowledge, I have
the scriptures to point out that what I see or conclude is adhyaasa. Hence
shabda pramaaNa important to gain this knowledge.  It is only a
hypothetical knowledge at this stage subject to verification by oneself in
oneself.  At least now I have some idea where the problem and how to solve
the problem.  That itself is not a solution to the problem but problem
atleast is identified for me to experiment.

>Also, in your example of ‘it is a long snake’, I understand that ‘long’
>refers to the rope and not the snake but can we therefore say that ‘long’ is
>satya aMsha? Isn’t the ‘long’ purely relative? After all, I might be looking
>through a telescope or, round the next corner, I might come upon an
>enormously long rope and I would then have to call the first one ‘short’.

It is a long snake - Obviously the snake will not be any shorter or longer
than the length  of the object that I see there.  Hence a 5ft object will
give only a 5ft snake vision since that particular length is the feature of
the intinsic object (here it is a rope) or quality of the rope and will not
disappear when we shed light on it.  It will remain as 5ft object, now as a
rope instead of a snake.
Point is whatever the intrisic attributes that belong to the object remain
since they are stya aMsha but only the attributes that belong to asatya
aMsha will disapper since they belong to the asyatya vishhaya.

Hari Om!


K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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