Kuntimaddi Sadananda k_sadananda at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 4 13:35:34 CDT 2000

                Notes on Brahmasuutra-IIIB

        sadaashiva samaarambhaam shankaraachaarya madhyamam|
        asmadaachaarya paryantaam vande guruparamparaam||

I prostrate to the lineage of teachers starting from Lord Shiva who is ever
auspicious and with Bhagavaan Shankara in the middle and all the way up to
my own teacher.

        vaastalya ruupam triguNairatiitam
        aananda saandram amalairnidhaanam|
        shree chinamayaananda guro praNiitam
        sadaa bhajeham tava paada pankajam||

Who is the very embodiment of motherly affection who is beyond the three
guNa-s, who is full with bliss, and who is the very source of purity who is
the best among the teachers, Shree Chinmayaananda,  to his lotus feet I
(sada) always prostrate.

                Adhyaasa Bhaashhyam (continued)

(Note: Due to feed back I received so far,  I am cutting down the length of
the postings. Hence the adhyaasa part will be discussed in more than three
parts. This may give more time for readers to think and discuss. If you have
not voiced your opinion so far it is time to do that).

In the last notes we stopped with puurvapakshi's claims that aatma-anaatma
adhyaasa is not possible even though rope-shake adhyaasa is possible.  For
adhyaasa involving 'satyaanR^ita mithuniikaraNam', mixing up of real and
unreal entities, four conditions need to be satisfied, simultaneously.  All
the four conditions are satisfied for the rope-snake case but none are
fulfilled for the aatma-anaatma case.  They are pratyaksha vishayatvam,
aJNaatatvam, saadR^ishyam and samskaaram.  (The reader is referred back to
Notes IIIa for details).  Since none of the four conditions are satisfied,
aatma-anaatma adhyaasa is not possible, and the concept of adhyaasa is
wrong.  Since adhyaasa is the foundation for Adviata Vedanta, the whole
philosophy is on shaky grounds. This is the objector's contention.

3.9 Adhyaasa shankaa samaadhaanam and sambhaavana
     (Response to the objections and showing the possibility for        adhyaasa)

Of the six topics of adhyaasa stated above (see section 3-6), we have
covered two topics, adhyaasa lakshNa and adhyaasa shankaa.  The next too
topics of adhyaasa; shankhaa samaadhaanam and adhyaasa sambhaavana are very
similar. Hence they will be discussed together in the following.

Shankaraachaarya has to address the objections with regard to each of the
four conditions stated by puurvapakshi or the objector.

The first condition is that the thing that is mistaken should be 'pratyaksha
vishaya' - should be an object perceived in front.  For that Shankara's
answer is that the condition to be fulfilled is not exactly the same as
stated by the puurvapakshi, or the objector.  The first condition needs to
be modified slightly since it was presented incorrectly by puurvapakshi.
For a mistake to take place an object must be evident, or it should be a
known object since an unknown object cannot be mistaken.  I cannot make a
mistake about 'gaagaabuubuu', since I donot know what that 'gaagaabuubuu'
is.  Hence it should be a known object or an evident object, but need not be
an object in front, as puurvapakshi claims.  There is no need for an object
to be in front for it to be mistaken.  It is sufficient if it is a known
object.  From the point of aatma, it is not an object in front, but still as
the subject aatma is evident enough for one to commit the mistake.  Hence
the first condition should be restated as that it should be evident and not
pratyaksha vishaya, as the puurvapakshi claims.  It should be an evident
'vishaya' and need not be 'pratyaksha vishaya' and aatma fulfils the
modified requirement.  Therefore the first condition should be restated as
'prakaashhamaanatvam', or a known existent entity and not 'pratyaksha
vishayatvam'.  Then the modified first condition is fulfilled both in the
case of rope-snake and in the case of aatma-anaatma.  Hence adhyaasa is

The second condition is aJNaatatvam - that is it should be not known - that
rope is not known - Rope is partially known as an object present but it is
not fully known as a rope.  Existence of a rope as an object is known, but
the 'ropeness' of the existing object is unknown.  Partial ignorance is the
second requirement - it is 'aamshhika aJNaatatvum' that is partial ignorance
and not 'puurNa aJNaatatvam', complete ignorance.  We claim in the case of
aatma also it is partially known and partially unknown, and therefore the
second condition is completely fulfilled.  The aatma is partially known as
'aham asmi', that is 'I exist'.  Whenever a person says 'I am' - the sat
(am) and chit (I) of aatma is evident but not fully known as 'aham brahma
asmi' or 'aham aanandaH asmi', I am the totality or I am bliss.  Thus sat
and chit are known but anantatvam, my infinite nature is not known; 'aham
aanandaH', I am bliss, is not known.  What is the proof for this? -
Everybody's bio-data speaks for itself in proof of this.  Everyone
introduces himself as ' I am this or that' etc., where 'I am', the subject
corresponding to sat and chit, and 'this and that' being an object with a
limited qualification - apuurNatva - proving that one is ignorant of
oneself.  Because of the existence of this self-ignorance only Upanishads
are coming to our rescue to teach us our true nature. In Chaandogya
Upanishad there is a statement, 'aatmavit shokam tarati' - 'the knower of
the self crosses the sorrow' - From these it is very clear that a samsaarii,
who is always engulfed in sorrow, does not have self-knowledge.  Hence
self-ignorance is there.  This is everybody's personal experience.  Hence
the second condition that there should be partial knowledge and partial
aJNaatatvam is fulfilled. That is the requirement of AMshhika aJNaatatvam,
partial ignorance is fulfilled.

Third condition is 'saadR^isyam', similarity, should be there between the
'adhishhTaanam' that is the rope and the superimposed snake.  For this
objection, the advaitin's answer is that the similarity is a general
condition, which always need not be fulfilled for adhyaasa to occur.  There
are exceptions to this condition.  For example, the general rule is the
creator, intelligent cause (nimitta kaaraNa) is different from the material
for creation (upaadaana kaaraNa).  That is the pot maker (nimitta kaaraNa)
is different from the clay (upaadaana kaaraNa).  But there are exceptions to
this general rule - for example a dreamer creating his dream world, a spider
creating its web, ultimately the Iswara creating this world.  Similarly
'saadR^isyam' or similarity is a general condition but it is not an
invariable necessity or compulsory condition.  And adhyaasa is possible
without having 'saadR^isyam' or similarity.  aatma-anaatma adhyaasa comes
under this category of exceptions.  Hence the third rule is not applicable

Why saadR^isyam is not a compulsory requirement?   Because we do have cases
where error or adhyaasa takes place without any similarity or saadR^isyam.
Shankaraachaarya gives an example - 'aprathyakshetiH aakaashhe baalaaH
talamalinataadi adhyasyanti' - To illustrate this take the example of the
blue sky or blue space - the blue sky, is it an error or knowledge?  We know
that the sky is niruupam or without any color or form.  When we say it is a
blue sky, we are superimposing blueness upon the colorless sky.  Not only
the blueness but the sky seems to look like a vessel turned upside down (due
to horizons) - the concavity of the space (talatvam) and its niilatvam
(blueness) and also malinatvam (space pollution) are all falsely
superimposed on space.  When such an error or adhyaasa takes place what kind
of saadR^isyam or similarity one can attribute between aakaasha or space and
the superimposed blueness or pollution or concavity? In fact aakaasha is
never similar to anything else - there is beautiful statement to this effect
in RaamaayaNa.

        gaganam gaganaakaaram saagaram saagaropamam|
        raama raavaNayor yuddham raama raavaNa yoriva||

There are no other similar things to compare, for space other than with the
space, ocean other than with the ocean and similarly the Raama-RaavaNa war
other than with Raama-RaavaNa war.

Therefore aakaasha is not similar to anything and therefore no saadR^isyam'
is possible.  However aakaasha adhyaasa is every body's experience.  Thus
adhyaasa seems to take place even with out having a similar object and
therefore the third condition saadR^isyam is not compulsory.  In the
rope-snake case, it is applicable but in the case of blue sky or
aatma-anaatma adhyaasa it is not applicable.  Hence the third condition for
aatma-anaatma case is invalid.

The forth condition of the puurvapakshi is related to the mixing up of satya
and asatya or anR^ita vishaya.  Such a mixing up is possible as in the case
of rope-snake case if one has prior experience of real snake before.  That
is prior samskaara of the real snake exists in the mind for one to project
it on the rope in front.  Thus a false snake is possible due to experience
of a real snake before.  Such samskaara is not possible for aatma-anaatma
case since there is no real anaatma for one to have that experience or
samskaara.  This is the objection of the puurvapakshi.  This objection is
answered by advaitin as follows.  Samskaara is required and it comes from
previous experience and up to this part, it is acceptable.  But we differ
from objector's statement that the previous experience of a real snake is
required for adhyaasa to take place.  Previous experience of a snake is
required all right, but it need not have to be a real snake.  One can have a
previous experience of a false snake and that experience of false snake or
samskaara can create an impression, which can produce another false snake.
For example if I have never seen a real snake but experienced a false snake
in a movie (if it is real snake, no body will remain in the theater) which
created samskaara for me to project a snake on the rope, and I experience
the fears associated with seeing a snake.  People project ghost on a post
without having seen a real ghost in their life.  Concept of a ghost in book
is sufficient to create a samskaara for adhyaasa to take place.

Similarly the adhyaasa in the case of aatma-anaatma is possible by the
previous samskaara of unreal anaatma.  How did this previous experience or
samskaara of unreal anaatma occur?  That again is due to adhyaasa involving
previous to previous unreal anaatma. And for the previous to previous
adhyaasa there is previous to previous to previous unreal anaatma.  This can
go on.  Then how did the very first unreal anaatma experience occur?
Shankaraachaarya says - 'naisargitoyam lokaH vyavahaaraH' - it is anaadi
adhyaasa.  We never talk about the beginning of adhyaasa.  It is naisargitaH
(uncreated or beginning-less or anaadi) - puurva puurva adhyaasaH, uttara
uttara adhyaasasya kaaraNam (previous previous adhyaasa is responsible for
the following and the following adhyaasa). anaadi avidyaa vaasanaya - the
beginning-less ignorance based samskaara.   Therefore real anaatma is not
there and is not required for adhyaasa to take palace.  Previous experience
of unreal anaatma is there which is the cause for adhyaasa.

Hence all the four conditions are effectively fulfilled.  The first
condition is fulfilled in a modified form - prakaashhamaanatvam instead
pratyaksha vishayatvam that is it should be evident rather than directly
perceivable in front.  The second condition aJNaatatvam is fulfilled since
aatma is indeed partially known and partially unknown.  The third condition
is not compulsory  and the fourth condition is also fulfilled since
samskaara is there not of real anaatma but of unreal anaatma, which is
sufficient to produce adhyaasa.  Therefore aatma-anaatma adhyaasa is

This forms the first answer to puurvapakshi.  This answer is only a
provisional or temporary answer.  This is a defensive argument. This above
answer is applicable to both objectors that belong to aastika and naastika
camps.  The answer is given using the same laukika anumaana that
puurvapakshi used in his objections.  Thus Shankara first shows using the
same language of the objector that it is not adhyaasa that is wrong but his
objections against adhyaasa are based on wrong postulates. In the process he
provides the correct postulates too and shows that adhyaasa is possible.

Since the objectors are mostly aastika-s a more complete answer is provided
in the next post.

Hari Om!

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

Share information about yourself, create your own public profile at

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