kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 10 15:48:06 CDT 2006

Hari OM! PraNAms to everyone. 

We will resume the series after a long gap.  Meanwhile we had a two-day
spiritual camp on Mandukya Upanishad organized by Shree Ram Chandran on
behalf of Chinmaya Mission Washington Regional Center (CMWRC), where we
completed the Agama prakaraNa.  Starting from July 10, I will be taking
‘Gita Navaneetam’ talk series at CMWRC, thanks to Shree Ram Chandran
again.  The Mandukya Upanishad camp discourses (12hrs) will soon become
available in MP3 format, which can be obtained once they are ready. 
Shree Subbu brought to our attention the 8 CDs of H.H. Swami
Paramaarthanandaji’s on the Upanishad and karika.  I have listened to
the talks and they are worth the treasure.  My talks follow very closely
His discourses on the Upanishad as indicated in my introduction and the
basis for both is essentially the Chinmaya Mission teachings on the

We start our series now.  We present below some of the conclusions that
we have reached and also present additional points that are relevant
based on the discussions we had in the list(s). 
1. All objective knowledge is attributive knowledge, since senses can
only gather attributes and not substantive or substantial of the
objects.  That some daarshanikas state that senses also gather
substantive knowledge along with the attributes, but that is only an
assumption and not a fact.  The mind, however, makes an inference that
there is an object ‘out there’ with those attributes that the senses
have gathered.  It is true that this inference should be based on
‘vyaapti’ or a relation establishing the attributes and the object. 
This vyaapti is established as the child grows with the knowledge
involving transactions (hence, it is only transactional knowledge) not
only with the senses (jnaanedriyas) but also with organs of action,
karmendriyas.  Exactly an identical situation arises in the dream state,
as we shall see, and for this reason only the Mandukya is revered as the
most important upanishad.   It is similar to the fact that I transact
with the ring differently from the bangle or necklace without knowing
the substantive of the ring, bangle or necklace.  It is not that objects
do not have the substantives, if so the objects cannot exist.  What is
to be recognized is that the attributes that one gathers through the
senses do not truly belong to the substantive.  Hence, Krishna says

mayA tatam idam sarvam jagat avyakta mUrtinA|
mastAni sarva bhUtani na cha aham tEshu avasthitaH||
na ca mastAni bhUtAni pasyamE yOgamaishvaram|
bhUtabhRinna ca bhUtastO mamAtmA bhUtabHAvanaH|| 

I pervade this entire universe in an unmanifested form. All beings are
in me since I support them as the very material cause.  However, I am
not involved in their modifications and attributes.  In fact, if one
inquires further, they do not have any existence in me (since they are
only names and forms without any substantiality of their own). Arjuna
look at my glory. I myself providing the entire support for all the
beings, yet without directly involved in their trials and tribulations.
Those do not affect me. 

This is one of the powerful statements of Krishna, which appear to have
an inherent contradiction.  He says first that the beings are all in Him
and in the very next sloka, He appears to contradict His own statement
by saying that they are not in Him.  This is the essence of adyArOpa
apavAda that advaita emphasizes.  It is similar to gold says first that
all ornaments are in me as I pervade this entire universe of
gold-ornaments.  However, the attributes, trials and tribulations of
these ornaments do not belong to me (na ca aham teshu avasthitaH). The
ring’s attributes, its date of birth or date of death are different from
those of bangle and necklace. These changing attributive knowledge do
not belong to the gold, which remains as the substantive in all their
changes without getting unaffected by these changes or avasthas. Once
one is settled with that understanding, Gold can declare further, for
those who want to inquire more deeply, these rings, bangles and
necklaces do not even exist in me.  Essentially, I remain all the time
as gold without any rings, bangles and necklaces in me and gold as I
was, gold as I am and gold I will be.  In fact, I have never transformed
myself into rings, bangles or necklaces.  Look at my glory, I remain as
gold, but appear to exist in varieties of forms with varieties of names.
 This is what is called transformation less transformation or
creationless creation or as Shree Goudapaada comments as ajAti vAda. 
Hence, Ch. Up.  says creation is just like gold becoming into ornaments
- ‘vaachArambhanam vikaarO nAmadhEyam’.  The samanvaya or coherency is
obvious to those who are keen in knowing the truth of advaita that
Krishna is emphasizing through the apparent contradictions. 
Thus, from Vedas we learn that  Brahman is the substantive for all
objects, nay, for the world itself. (sarvam khalvidam brahma). Mandukya
matra 2 reinforces this statement.  Braham being substantive, it is not
available for knowledge by the senses, reinforcing our conclusion
independently that objective knowledge can only be attributive

2. Scriptures define Brahman using converse statement ‘prajnAnam
brahma’,‘satyam jnaanam anantam brahma’ etc, which makes them as
necessary and sufficient ‘qualifications’ for brahman  or swarUpa
laxaNas for Brahman. Swaruupa laxaNas are necessary and sufficient
qualifications for any object. 

3. Brahman being infinite cannot have attributes since attributes
differentiate one object from the other or to put this in more general
form, Brahman does not have sajaati, vijaati, swagata bhedas.  Hence
even the swarupa laxanas that are discussed are only used by the
scriptures as ‘upaaya’ for Upadesha or means of communicating that which
cannot be communicated. Mandukya is going to reinforce this with the
statement that turiiyam is  avyapadesyam, indescribable.  

4. Only objects have attributes, and are known only through the
attributes since substantive is Brahman.  Conversely, that which has
attributes is only an object that is finite.

5. Subject ‘I’ also cannot have attributes, since it is a subject and
not an object. Subject cannot be objectified.  Hence, there can be only
one subject in the universe and everything becomes an object of
knowledge for the subject ‘I’. Subject has to be a conscious entity and
being ekam eva advitiiyam (one without a second), the identity of
subject I, which is sans attributes, and Brahman, which is also sans
attributes, is again established.  Samanvaya or self-consistency is
again obvious. 

SwarUpa laxaNa of an object:  SwarUpa laxaNa is the same as the
necessary and sufficient qualification of an object that differentiates
the object from all other objects in the universe.  On critical
analysis, we will find an object cannot have swarUpa laxaNa since its
swarUpam, which is the same as its substantive, is nothing but Brahman.
Taking the example of sugar we showed the sweetness is only a necessary
qualification but not sufficient qualification.  There is no particular
qualification that can be identified as its swarUpa laxaNa.  One can say
collective qualifications together define the sugar as different from
other objects, but none of them can be necessary and sufficient
qualification to define sugar.  One can says sugar is that which has
sugariness which is different from saltiness of the salt. But this is
only a circular definition since we have to define sugariness as that
which sugar has; and sugar is that which has sugariness. (In the tarka
shaastra, cow is used as an illustrative example. Cow is that which has
cow-ness (gotvam) and cow-ness is that which cow has.) This ambiguity in
defining any object arises again from the fact that the object has no
substantiality of its own.  When we analyze naama and naami (name and
the object the name stands for), or padam and padaartham (word and its
object) in the discussion of Om-kaara, we will bring this issue again. 
For transactional purposes (vyAvahArika satyam), we can define sugar as
C12H22O11 as its swaruupa, but we recognize that it is nothing but an
assemblage of different elements, without having a substantive of its
own.  There is no sugariness left if we separate the carbon, hydrogen
and oxygen to examine the substantive of the sugar further.  Even these
elements have no substantive of their own as we try to examine further
they are assemblage of more fundamental particles; electrons, protons
and neutrons.  We are yet to find the fundamental particles of matter
since we come to a deadlock at quantum level as the very investigation
to find the answer affects the system being investigated.  Other than at
transactional level where sugar differs from salt, the fundamental
differences in term of substantives dissolve.  Sugar is different from
salt, even though both are made of the same fundamental particles,
electrons, protons and neutrons.  Ring is different from necklace, even
though both are made of the same substantive, gold.  The properties
belong to the assemblage but not to substantives. The luminosity of the
ring and bangle comes from gold. It is borrowed luminosity from its
substantive.  Similarly world exists and its existence comes from its
substantive, Brahman – essentially a borrowed existence.  Hence ring can
cease to exist when it is melted to form a bangle. But existence
persists in and through the changing names and forms.  In fact, errors
in perception are possible only because the knowledge of objects are
only attributive and substantive.  We now analyze the errors in
Error in the perception: 

Errors can occur in the cognition and recognition process when the input
data from senses are incomplete or inadequate.  The incomplete data from
the senses could be due to defectiveness of the senses (for example
color blindness), or inadequate environment for senses to operate to
their full potential (ex. inadequate illumination).  The recognition
based on partial data can result in erroneous conclusions about the
object that is perceived.  Hence, partial data can give rise to
erroneous cognitions. (Mandukya is important only because it takes total
human experience rather than partial experience of waking state to
arrive at the truth).  Perceiver may not recognize the error in his
perception and thus in his knowledge, unless the defects in the
perception are recognized or unless he learns from others (Apta vAkyam)
who could perceive the object correctly.  For learning to take place, he
should have the faith or trust in their knowledge.  Some aachaarayas
claim that in gathering attributes by the senses, senses gather the
substantive also.  That this is only an assumption is obvious when one
perceives a snake where there is a rope. In the perception of the snake
where there is a rope, what senses have gathered are all the attributes
that are common to both rope and snake but not those that differentiate
the two.  Here the defect is due to incomplete knowledge of the
attributes of the object, which are sufficiently deterministic to
distinguish the object from an elephant or tiger but not sufficiently
deterministic to differentiate a snake from a rope.  Error therefore
arises since senses only bring in attributes and not substantives; and
mind is making a judgment call about the object perceived, based on the
limited attributes that the senses have gathered.  

Thus, perception of a snake ‘out there’ where there is a rope is an
error or adhyaasa.  Here, it is a subjective error about the object
perceived.  Let us call this as subjective objectification.  Those who
knew the truth that it is a rope and not a snake, also knew that the
other person’s cognition of a snake and therefore his knowledge based on
partial data is erroneous or adhyaasa, and is bhrama and not pramaa. 
However, from the reference of the person who is seeing a snake, he has
a valid knowledge or pramaa of the snake ‘out there’, since he has no
reason to suspect that it could be a rope and that his cognition is
bhrama.  He may die with that knowledge that it was a snake, if he has
no further input that is trust worthy, to negate his knowledge of the
snake.  From his reference, the object out there is a snake, period. 
>From his reference, is it pramaa or bhrama?  From his reference, snake
knowledge is a valid knowledge, since he could see that it is five feet
long and when he accidentally stepped on it, it was soft like a snake. 
Thus, the sense of sight and sense of touch, both confirmed that it is a
snake.  It is most likely to be a snake since it is in the middle of
forest where the snakes roam around.  Thank God, it did not bite him. 
However, the fear and the anxiety that arose because of that knowledge
are as real as the object itself that he perceived.  If he is a high
blood pressure patient, he could have died out of that shock.  If he had
concluded that it is rope instead of snake, he would have lived equally
happily with that knowledge, irrespective if whether the object is
really a snake or a rope.  From his reference, whatever knowledge he has
gained is valid knowledge until it is contradicted by another experience
related to that object.  We conclude therefore that without
contradictory experiences, the knowledge (of snake or rope) remains as a
valid knowledge. There is no other validation process available for him
other than contradictory experience from another pramANa (for example,
such as aapta vAkyam). 

>From this, we arrive at several important conclusions.  First, the
objective knowledge is relative, since it is only an attributive
knowledge without any substantive knowledge.   Second, when there is
incomplete or defective information about the attributes of the objects,
there could be an error in the recognition of the object.  The erroneous
knowledge is taken as valid knowledge and it is not recognized as
erroneous unless additional trustworthy information or datum is
available.  Without such additional information, the knowledge remains
as valid in the mind of the perceiver.  Third, this knowledge is
subjective since error arises due to incomplete input from the senses of
the perceiver, the subject.  Therefore, the error exists in the mind of
seer of the snake and not in the minds of the seers of rope.  For the
seer of the snake the snake is real, while for the seers of the rope,
the rope is real. Interestingly, the error is recognized as an error
only when the two minds, the seer of the snake and seer of the rope
interact.  Otherwise, both have relatively valid knowledge from their
references.  Relativity in the valid knowledge comes from the fact that
the mind is involved in the formative knowledge.  Without the mind,
there is no knowledge of the object ‘out there’.  

In both pramaa and bhrama, the relative reality of the object is
established by the attributive knowledge, and not by the
object-knowledge per sec.  A magician is successful with his show only
because the knowledge of the object is based on the attributive
knowledge than the substantive knowledge.  By distorting the attributes
that the audiences perceive, he can manipulate their sense input to
provide a false image of an object.  

In the case of snake perception, the error lies in the seer of the snake
and not with the seer of the rope.  We call this as subjective error or
praatibhaasika just to differentiate from relatively more objective
errors.  In the case of subjective error, the factors responsible for
the error are limited to the individual.  This is in contrast to the
perception of the mirage water where the factors responsible for the
error are outside the individual mind.    When the seer of the snake
gets additional data and confirms by subsequent perception that it is a
rope, the relative knowledge of the snake is replaced by a more valid
knowledge of a rope.  Once one recognizes the error and sees the rope as
a rope and not rope as a snake, the snake vision is eliminated since the
creation of the snake is subjective.  Thus, praatibhaasika errors are
limited to the individual.  The dream objects and dream world come under
this category, as we shall see when the upaniShad discusses the dream

Error therefore occurs whenever we do not perceive the substantive of an
object as it is, but we know there is an object out there based on the
attributive knowledge gained through sense input.  In the case of the
subjective error like snake, we do not see the substantive rope and
therefore project, based on the attributes that senses have gathered,
that there is a snake out there.  GoudapAda points out that some may see
the rope as a snake or crack in the earth or a water streak on the
floor.  In principle in this subjective objectification or
praatibhaasika, depending on one’s samskaara, the projection of
appropriate superimposed object such as snake, crack or steak of water
occurs.  The knowledge of each of these objects is relative knowledge
relative to the perceiver of those objects. The cause for projection for
these objects or cause for error is the lack of correct or complete
attributive knowledge of the substantive (called as adhiShTAnam). 
Non-apprehension or ignorance of the rope as a rope is the causes for
misapprehension of the rope as snake or crack or streak of water.  Here
ignorance is not some positive quantity capable of projecting the snake
or crack.  Here ignorance is the absence of correct knowledge of the
truth of the object due to defective or incomplete sense input.  As
discussed before, whatever the sense input the mind has collected is
integrated by forming an image of the object in the mind and the
cognized image is compared with the images stored in the memory that
have similar attributes (sAdRisyam) for recognition of the object as a
snake or crack or streak of water.  There has been extensive research
that is being done to evaluate how the mind selects images from the
memory whether it is by series or by parallel processing.  For example,
for a word ‘pit’ – several meanings for the word are possible.  When we
hear the word ‘pit’, mind has the capacity to select the meaning
depending on the context the word is used or the familiarity in the use
of the word for a given perceiver.  For the one who digs holes all the
time, the word ‘pit’ would bring in the image of a hole in the ground,
while for a fruit seller ‘pit’ would mean a seed in the fruit.  The
reader of a story may select different meanings for the word depending
on the context it is used.  The point is the projection and recognition
is done by a mind supported by the conscious entity.  The image
projected depends on mental ‘samskaara’ at that time, which includes
both the habitual thinking and contextual thinking.  Hence, error is
related to partial ignorance (hence partial truth also), which forms a
root cause for the mind to project an object, a snake, a crack, or a
streak of water, where the rope is.  The substantive or material cause
for the snake-projection is rope only, at the out set.  However, in
reality, it is the mind supported by conscious entity.  Without the mind
present, there is neither a snake nor a rope. If the senses can bring
all the attributes of the object correctly then the errors in
recognition of object are minimized.  If there is no sense-input at all,
no attributive knowledge, that is complete ignorance, there is no
knowledge of existence of any object.  Then also, there is no
deterministic error, since there is no deterministic perception.  We
will discuss this aspect also when the upaniShad addresses, the deep
sleep state. 

Even when one sees the rope as a rope, there is still an error, since as
it was pointed out that it is an objective error rather than subjective
error.  Since rope is seen as a rope by everybody, we call this
relatively more objective than the subjective error involved in the
perception of snake.  Error, we said, arises when we have incomplete
information about any object.  Because of the partial ignorance and
partial knowledge, mind makes a judgment call about the object based on
the information currently available. In the perception of the rope as a
rope, incomplete information arises because of different type of sense
limitations.  Here the limitation of senses is related to their
incapacity to provide the substantive knowledge but only providing an
attributive knowledge, since substantive of the rope is Brahman, which
cannot be perceived by senses.  Since everybody sees the object as a
rope, the limitation of the senses in each individual is Universal
limitation, and the error that arises because of the lack of correct
substantive knowledge of the object, we call it as vyaavahaarika satyam.
 It means a transactional reality.  The praatibhaasika satyam pertains
to individual mind while the vyaavahaarika satyam pertains to all minds
collectively.  This classification is only relative but the errors in
both cases are somewhat similar, taking something for something else,
atasmin tat bhudhiH, which Shankara calls it as adhyaasa or a
superimposed error.  In the case of a snake vision, it is the
superimposition of the knowledge of the snake where the rope is. In the
case of rope, it is the superimposition of knowledge of rope where
Brahman is.  The farmer is called subjective error and the later is
called objective error. One has limited transaction, where the snake
perception causes fear in the mind of the perceiver who acts
accordingly.  If many people are seeing the rope as a snake, the snake
knowledge will remain in the minds of each one of them until each mind
is convinced that it is a rope and not a snake.  Those who are convinced
will take the rope as rope, while those who are not yet convinced, will
still take rope as a snake.  Similarly, in the vyavahaara satyam, the
rope knowledge will remain as rope until those that are seeing rope have
the vision of the substantive, Brahman.  Here the knowledge of the
substantive is not perceptual but through Veda PramaaNa, since Brahman
cannot be perceived.  Here the error is universally based, just as the
case of the vision of mirage.  Hence, even after knowing that it is not
real, one can see the mirage but one knows that what is seen is not real
but only mithya.  Similarly even gaining the knowledge of Brahman, the
attributive knowledge of objects can still remain as long as the mind
and senses are operating, but there is no confusion that what is seen is
real.  Whatever is seen is taken as false or mithya.  Thus for an
ignorant person, the false is taken as real while for jnaani false
remain as false while the substantive of the false is recognized as
Brahman which is real. 

Thus, just as the ignorance of rope causes the mind to create the snake
in the mind of the perceiver, the ignorance of Brahman causes the mind
to create the perception of the objects as real in the minds of the
perceiver.  The former is an error at microcosm level while the later is
an error at macrocosm level, which will be explained later.  The
realities, however, are relative in both cases.  The snake is real for
the perceiver of the snake, rope is real for the perceiver of the rope,
and Brahman is real for the knower of Brahman.  The first is called
praatibhaasika, the second is vyaavahaarika and we can call the third as
paaramaarthika.  All are valid knowledge in their plane of reference,
but only difference is the Knowledge of Brahman alone is absolute
knowledge since Brahman alone is absolutely real based on Veda PramaaNa.
 Just as praatibhaasika knowledge is negated at the vyaavahaarika level,
the vyaavahaarika knowledge is negated at the paaramaarthika level.  We
noted that the knowledge of the snake remains as valid, until a doubt
arises about its validity when the perceiver of the snake is exposed to
the perceiver of the rope.  When he investigates further using
appropriate means (such as using a torch light) because of the faith in
the word of his preceptor (the knower of the rope), he discovers that
what he is seeing is not a snake but a rope.  Similarly, the knowledge
of the rope as valid or real remains unless one is exposed to a teacher
who is aware that what is seen is not really a rope but Brahman only. 
With that faith in the teacher, if he investigates using appropriate
means, that is using Vedanta PramaaNa, he discovers that what he is
seeing as the world of objects is nothing but Brahman only.  We reach
another important conclusion; at any level, the perceived objects and
thus the perceived world are taken as real until the reality of the
perceptions are investigated using appropriate means of knowledge,
Hari Om!

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list