NOTES ON BRAHMASUUTRA IIIC
k_sadananda at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 11 07:30:09 CDT 2000
Notes on Brahmasuutra IIIC
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)
In the last notes we began the discussion of Shankara's shankhaa
samaadhaanam or response to the objections of the puurvapakshi that
aatma-anaatma adhyaasa is not possible since the four conditions required
for the adhyaasa are not met in the case of aatma-anaatma case. In response
to the objections, Shankara shows that the first condition is incorrectly
stated by the puurvapakshi and it should be prakaashhamaanatvam instead of
pratyaksha vishhayatvam. The second condition should be aamshika
aJNaatatvam instead of puurNa aJNaatatvam and this is fulfilled even the
aatma-anaatma case. The third condition is not universal and there are
exceptions and aatma-anaatma case falls in the category of the exceptions.
For the fourth condition involving 'samskaara' Shankara shows that it need
not have to be real snake to have previous samskaara, and even the samskaara
of a false snake can do the job. In the case of aatma-anaatma case also it
is the previous experience of false anaatma that leaves a samskaara, which
helps to project false anaatma on the aatma. The previous samskaara of
false anaatma occurs because of previous to previous samskaara of involving
false anaatma. The chain can go on. For the question of how did the very
first experience of false anaatma occurred. Shankara raises the issue that
one cannot ask about the beginning for the avidya. It is anaadi or
beginningless and it is similar to inquiring which is the first, chicken or
egg. It is anirvachaniiyam - naisargitoyam - it is inexplicable or
This above forms the first answer to puurvapakshi. This answer is
applicable to objectors that belong to both aastika and naastika camps. The
answer is given using the same laukika anumaana that puurvapakshi used in
There is a second answer which is a more important answer, which is an
offensive argument. This part is mainly for the aastika puurvapakshi-s who
also believe in the validity of Veda-s as pramaaNa.
Shankara claims that adhyaasa that is talked about is Veda pramaaNa. The
rope-snake example is given not for proving adhyaasa. adhyaasa is not
derived from the rope-snake example. This example is given only as an
illustration of the nature of adhyaasa. Hence one should not try to extract
more than what is intended for, from the rope-snake example. It is not
meant for proving aatma-anaatma adhyaasa. The proof for that comes from
Vedas, directly. Not realizing that many puurvapakshi-s and objectors
focused their attention on the rope-snake example and extracted rules to
apply for aatma-anaatma adhyaasa. Even if one can disprove rope-snake
adhyaasa, that does not affect our arguments about aatma-anaatma adhyaasa,
since it is scriptural based not on laukika anumaana, such as on rope-snake
case. Arguments based on laukika anumaana are not applicable to adhyaasa
aatma since it is scriptural based anumaana. (The reader is referred back to
Ch.II to see the limitations of laukika or worldly example for application
to inference about aatma). For this adhyaasa, shruti is pramaaNa. This is
the first aspect to be noted.
The second aspect is this adhyaasa involving aatma-anaatma should not be
questioned by puurvapakshi-s coming from aastika group, because the
puurvapakshi-s themselves have accepted, in one form or the other, adhyaasa
in their own systems of philosophies, which they themselves are not aware
off. Here we are referring to puurvapakshi-s of aastika darashhaNa-s that
is saankhya, yoga, nyaaya, vaisheshhika, puurvamiimaamsa. In all their
systems aatma-anaatma adhyaasa is already there, whether they recognize it
or not. For example these systems also talk about aatma and they all accept
based on Veda pramaaNa that aatma is nityaH or eternal. They accept Veda
pramaaNa, karmakaanDa, puNyam and paapam (merits and demerits), aatma
surviving the death, and reincarnation into next birth - all implying the
continuity of aatma. They are all aware that aatma refers to 'aham' or 'I'
the self. Hence all of them say that 'I" the self is immortal or nityaH,
based on Veda pramaaNa. In spite of this fact about aatma, which they all
agree, they are conscious also of the fact that our experience is 'I am a
human being' " I am a male', I am a female', I am a husband', I am a wife',
I am a father' etc. Since aatma is neither human being, nor male, female,
wife, husband, or father, the above statements, 'I am male' refers to
anaatma only. Hence even according to their systems, I am a human being or
I am a mortal when such statements are made, are they error or knowledge?
They have to accept, and they do accept, that they are erroneous statements,
since they believe based on Veda pramaaNa that the self that I am is eternal
and not mortal. The error is 'deha aatma buddhi' or manushhyatva buddhi or
mR^ityatva buddhi - I am the body, I am a man, I am mortal - these errors
It is an error accepted by all aastika systems. It is called 'sthuula
shariira adhyaasaH', superposition of aatma on the gross body. They have to
agree for this sthuulashariira adhyaasa. In case if they do not accept it
as an error, then their philosophies will reduce to that of Chaarvaaka
system of philosophy, which does not belief in the existence of aatma leave
alone its eternity. This is because 'dehaatma buddhi' will become a fact,
if it is not an error. To be classified under Chaarvaaka will not be
acceptable to any aastika philosophers, and therefore they have to accept
that dehaatma buddhi (dehe aatma buddhi) is an error or adhyaasa and not a
fact. Hence the second point is adhyaasa - stuulashhariira adhyaasa, is
already accepted by puurvapakshi-s even though they are not conscious of it
when they raise this objection.
Since stuulashhariira adhyaasa, superimposition of aatma on gross body, is
inherently accepted by the puurvapakshi-s, they have to accept the extension
of this error as aatma-anaatma adhyaasa. Therefore puurvapakshi has no
basis to raise the issue of fulfillment of the four conditions for adhyaasa,
since they have accepted the stuulashhariira adhyaasa without applying their
four conditions. Let us take, for example the first condition, the
'pratyakshatvam' requirement for adhyaasa. It is not applicable, since in
stuulashhariira adhyaasa that puurvapakshi has already accepted as an error,
even though the superimposed aatma is apratyaksham. Similarly the same
applies with respect to all other conditions that the puurvapakshi has
raised. What saad^Rishyam or similarity is there between aatma and
stuulashariiram, gross body? Yet it is accepted due to shruti pramaaNa that
says aatma is different from the inert gross body.
Hence puurvapakshi has no basis to raise the issue against aatma-anaatma
adhyaasa. Another problem with puurvapakshi's argument is he is bringing
conditions pertaining to laukika anumaana which are not necessarily valid
for aatma-anaatma adhyaasa, which is based on shruti that is accepted by
both advaitin as well as puurvapakshi as valid pramaaNa.
While aatma-anaatma adhyaasa is based on shruti, one can not question even
the rope-snake adhyaasa also with the four conditions, since that adhyaasa
or error is experienced by us. Hence puurvapakshi can explain, but not
question the anubhava based rajju-sarpa adhyaasa. Different philosopher
have different explanations for the rajuu-surpa or rope-snake adhyaasa, and
these are called khyaati vaada-s.
aatmakhyaatirasakhyaatiH akhyaati khyaatiranyathaa|
tathaa nirvachanakhyaatiH ithyetat khyaati panchakam||
The yogachaara Budhhists say it is aatmakhyaati, which is one type of
explanation. Maadhyamika Budhhists say it is asakhyaati.
Nyaayavaiseshika-s say it is anyathaa khyaati, miimamsaka-s say it is
akhyaati, advaitins say it is anirvachaniiya khyaati; thus explanation vary
for the snake-rope adhyaasa. Shankara says whatever be the explanation, one
cannot question the snake-rope adhyaasa since it is based on anubhava or
experience or pratyaksha pramaaNa. Similarly the aatma-anaatma adhyaasa
also cannot be questioned since it is based shruti pramaaNa. Everyone's
explanation for it may differ but adhyaasa cannot be denied.
3-10. Degrees of adhyaasa in aastika darshaNam-s
Now, the difference between the puurvapakshi and adviatin is concerning to
what extent this adhyaasa has taken place. It is not the existence of
adhyaasa but to the degree this adhyaasa occurs. Here the different
philosophers disagree. Let us take for example the adhyaasa related to 'I
am a mortal'( anityatvam), 'I am a doer' (karR^itvam), and 'I am an
enjoyer'(bhokR^itvam). A nyaayavaiseshhika says that mortality is not a fact
but is due to a superimposition or adhyaasa and the truth is 'I am
immortal', whereas I am a doer, karthaa and I am enjoyer or bhoktaa are not
errors but facts only. Thus according to these philosophers, the first one
only is adhyaasa and the other two are facts. Saankhya and yoga
philosophers, on the other hand, says 'aham anithyaH' and 'aham kartaa' both
are adhyaasa but 'aatma is a bhoktaa' is a fact and there is no adhyaasa in
that. An advaitin says all the three are adhyaasa.
naadatte kasyachitpaapam nachaiva sukR^itam vibhuH|
aJNaanenaavR^itam JNaanam tenamuhyanti jantavaH||
hantaat chenmanyate hantum hataschenmanyatehatam|
ubhoutou na vijaaniitaH naayam hanti nahanyate||
The first sloka is from Geeta (V-15) and the second one is from
kaTopanishad. Because one is not a doer he nether acquires merits or
demerits. Only because of ignorance born delusion one thinks that one is a
doer and enjoyer. One thinks one is a killer and the other one is killed,
neither one knows the fact, there is neither a killer (kaR^itvam) nor the
one who undergoes killing (bhokR^itvam). Hence in addition to anityatvam
the kaR^itvam and bhokR^itvam are also due to adhyaasa.
Hence there is no disagreement in agreeing that there is aatma-anaatma
adhyaasa. Only in the extent of the adhyaasa there is a disagreement
between different schools of philosophy. Hence aatma-anaatma adhyaasa is
possible and is there.
With this, the third and fourth of the six topics that is adhyaasa shankhaa
samaadhaanam and adhyaasa sambhaavana are completed.
Next we will discuss adhyaasa pramaaNam.
For those who are studying with me, here are the questions in Chapter III up
to this point. Try to answer and cross check the answers with the notes.
Questions on IIIA&B
1. What are the four mahaavaakyaas that provide shruti pramaaNa for advaita?
2. What is adhyaasa? what is the source for any error? What is the
fundamental error? What is its importance?
3. Why Shankara says there is no path other than knowledge? How does the
knowledge solve the problem? What role the other paths play?
4. In the rope/snake adhyaasa - why it is called satya anR^ita
mithuniikaraNam? What does that mean? And how is this definition applicable
to rope-snake adhyaasa?
5. How the above definition satya anR^ita mithuniikaraNam applies to aatma
-anaatma case? How is that relevant to you and to everyone else?
6. What are the three definitions of adhyaasa?
7. List the four conditions for adhyaasa that the puurvapakshi presents to
dismiss the aatma-anaatma adhyaasa. How they are applicable to the
rope-snake case but not to the aatma-anaatma case.
8. How does Shankara addresses each of the four requirements for adhyaasa
that the puurvapakshi presents?
9. Why Shankara brings anaadi and anirvachaniiyam to account for how the
very first experience of anaatma occurs?
10. Now a bonus question! anaadi or beginningless and anirvachaniiyam, the
inexplicable nature -are they valid answers to the problem or are they just
a clover way of escaping to answer the question? How do the other
aachaaryaas get out of the problem of answering the question of 'How did we
all got into this problem of bondage in the first place?' - Or to rephrase
it, how did this cycle of janma to karma to janma started in the first
place? Which explanation you think is more logical and why?
To give enough time for people to think and to catch up, there will not be
any notes posted next week. That helps me also since I will be out of town
and also will give me some time to catch up on my office work! I have to
show that your taxes are at work!
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