[Advaita-l] Function of Pramana

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian balasr at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 8 15:16:22 CDT 2004

--- kuntimaddi sadananda <kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com>

> Inherent in the discussion of ignorance and its
> analogy with darkness is
> the assumption about the nature of the knowledge;
> and the nature of
> knowledge in the format of the advaita, particularly
> during the post
> Shankra period.   Knowledge is considered as swataH
> sidhham and hence
> Rama’s reminder from bhashya- s that it is vastu
> tantra.  Here one is
> faced with the distinction of ‘knowledge of’ versus
> ‘knowledge’ itself.
> Knowledge of ‘a pot’ or any object for that mater –
> that it can be vastu
> tantram,  but ‘pot’ can not be swatah siddham  -
> hence it is
> puurvaabhaava patriyogini – counter to it’s previous
> non-existence. 
> Removal of darkness or ignorance does not
> necessarily imply the vision
> of pot unless the pot is preexisting, and then only
> it becomes vastu
> tantram as Rama rightly pointed out.  The removal
> darkness and
> simultaneity of the vision of pot in the light can
> occur for a
> pre-existing objects – which of course is implied –
> but for deeper
> analysis it has be recognized, otherwise objectors
> will jump on it.   
> Hence the vision of the pot although vastu tantram
> is not independent of
> pramana- This is inherent in any examples which
> involves
> objectification. 
>  The  pure knowledge( in contrast to ‘knowledge
> of..’) is swataH siddham
> since it is chaitanya swaruupam; and that is
> ‘aprameyam’ as no means of
> knowledge is required to know itself.  
> The confusion of the ‘knowledge of’ where a pramaana
> has to operate
> (even if it is vastu tantram) and self-knowledge
> which has ‘aparameyam’
> has in my opinion led to the confusion of ‘bhava
> ruupa aj~naana’ in
> contrast to ‘abhaavaruupa aj~naana’.
> Any thoughts on that?

You correctly point out the difference between
self-knowledge and other kinds of knowledge. But as
sha.nkara says in his upadeshasaahasrii (gadyabandha.h

pramaayaa.h nityatve anaityatve cha
ruupavisheshha-abhavaat | 

Knowledge, whether eternal (i.e., self-knowledge) or
non-eternal (i.e., of the transitory non-self) do not
differ in their fundamental nature. 

Namely, a pramaaNa merely destroys ignorance or
misconceptions. The "object" itself may or may not
undergo change before and after removal of the
obstruction (example a pot in darkness is covered with
light when the darkness is removed). 

A whole lot of confusion seems to stem from not
understanding the much maligned "two levels of
reality". Also many people think that shruti vaakya is
"more important" in advaita and somehow invalidates
our perception of a seemingly real world. Another
pitfall is understanding what is acceptable
"reasoning" and the *basis* for *classifying* types of
reasoning as either acceptable and un-acceptable. 

I hope to post a detailed article on this sometime
this year, comparing the reasoning advaita uses with
the vishishhTaadvaita. The spirit is not vaada
(argument), but rather to bring out the point that the
advaita method is so unique, it's pointless to argue
with schools such as vishishhTaadvaita. The basic
approach is completely different.


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