[Advaita-l] Sarvamukti - Sri Appayya Dikshita's doctrine

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 2 07:45:23 CST 2007

This is a longish mail seeking guidance on reconciling a) the general understanding that upon release, the soul attains Brahman, and b) the emphatic assertion of the great Appayya Dikshita that upon release the soul attains ISvara, and only after sarvamukti - release of all - is Brahman attained.

sarvamukti, he emphatically states is what Sruti, smriti, the sUtrakAra, and the bhAshyakAra teach. (He states so in siddhAntaleSasangraha and SivAdvaitanirNaya - and the learned editor of both works states that squaring of a given doctrine with sarvamukti is a test of Appayya's own attitude towards the doctrine being discussed).

(In the paragraphs below, I have put my understanding or opinion between asterisks; rest of it is paraphrasing of what accomplished authors say and should be reliable.)

* The main reason why moksha is said to be identity with Isvara is that Jivas are considered as reflections of Isvara in different media, such as a number of mirrors, water, sword, silver vessel etc. As and when the avidya associated with a particular Jiva is removed, it is as if the reflecting medium is removed whereupon the reflection merges with the original. Here, the original is considered as Isvara and not Brahman as avidyA is supposed to bind Isvara and Jiva, Brahman - the perfect entity - being free of any defect, including avidyA. This doctrine seems to acknowledge the validity of Sruti statements such as "the knower of Brahman indeed becomes Brahman" by suggesting that while that is ultimately true, a condition precedent is sarvamukti.*

Appayya Dikshita refers to four adhikaraNas, one in each of the four chapters of brahmasUtras to support his docrtine of sarvamukti. 

First reference is to the daharadhikaraNa wherein the daharAkASa is first said to be Brahman, and then the jIva, the apparent paradox being reconciled by stating the daharAkASa indicates the true, revealed nature of the jIva, wherein it attains pArameSvaram rUpam, the form of ISvara.

The second reference is to the amSadhikaraNa where it is postulated that jIva is a part of the ISvara, like a spark is a part of the fire; this draws an objection that in such a case ISvara will suffer the sum of all the miseries of individual jIvas, which is countered by saying that ISvara is the prototype, and the jIvas are the reflections and just like when the reflection of Sun in a vessel of water moves when it is disturbed but not the Sun, the miseries of jIvas do not attach to ISvara. To Appayya, this (and bhAmatIkAra's commentary of this) should logically lead to sarvamukti. * Why? Jiva = reflection of ISvara; remove the medium (nescience) and the reflection should merge with the prototype, which is ISvara. *

The third reference is to the sandhyadhikaraNa wherein the illusoriness of the dream world is established. Here, it is argued that jIva does not have the ability to create, because he is obscured by nescience, but that in some jIvas, due to the grace of God, the obscuring film is removed and certain properties like possession of purposes which come true etc. manifest. This, again logically leads to saravamukti, to Appayya. * The support seems to be on two counts: a) the multiplicity of nescience is acknowledged, and b) in the released state the jIva is not pure consciousness, as identity with Brahman would imply, but in possession of certain ISvara-like powers.*

The final reference is to the brAhmAdhikaraNa, wherein the views of Jaimini that release is identity with saguNa brahman, and auDulomi, that it is consciousness alone, are reconciled by bAdarAyaNa by saying that even though the true nature of the soul is pure consciousness, the former is true from the empirical point-of-view, and is validated by the Upanishads. * To Appayya, this seems to mean that both are true in sequence: the first in ordinary course, and the second after the special condition of sarvamukti is fulfilled.*

* While studying the above, what struck me was that while bhagavatpAda never denied upAsana of saguNa brahman or that such upAsakas attain ISvaratva, the general understanding of advaita seemed to be that upon the removal of avidyA, one attains Brahman. Now, sarvamukti makes it different. For those who agree that the universe goes through cycles, at pralaya everything merges into Brahman. Whether you try for mukti or not, only at pralaya is the ultimate release possible.*

Actually, I am not sure I should have said the above: is it for me to criticise the emphatic conclusions of the great Appayya Dikshita, with my pretence of a study? However, I will let the above be, to reflect the internal disorientation about the understanding of Advaita, after reading sarvamukti. 

Could the learned members of the list show the right path through this?


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