[Advaita-l] adhyAsa - I

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 8 12:12:32 CDT 2003

The Basics

The knowledge of the existence of the Atman requiring
no authority outside of itself, is said to be
"Self-revealed" or "Self-luminous" (svyaM-jyoti). As
Shankara notes in the preamble to the Brahma sUtra
BhAshhya (BSB), "Everyone feels that his Self exists,
and he never feels,'I do not exist'." 

The Self constitutes the subject "I" of ALL knowledge.
Therefore, everyone forms the judgment in the case of
knowledge as "I know such-and-such." The distinction
between the "I" that is the subject of perception and
"such-and-such" that is the object of perception is as
light and darkness - one being conscious and the other
unconscious - and they can NEVER have any similarity,
let alone identity. 

Problem Definition

Nevertheless, it is commonly observed in this world a
confusion between the conscious and unconscious - a
mixing up of the properties of the unconscious object
with the conscious Self. So we hear people saying, "I
am fat" or "I am tall", thus superimposing the
properties of the body (that is JaDa - inert or
unconscious) on the Self. This is analogical to the
snake-in-the-rope phenomenon, whereby one mistakes the
rope for a snake owing to an error in perception. This
error of superimposing the properties of one object on
another is termed "adhyAsa" or superimposition. Or
adhyAsa could be defined as the absence of
discrimination between two entities. 

Next, we'll discuss how adhyAsa is related to VedAnta,
and how its removal constitutes moksha or liberation. 

(To be continuted)

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