[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 10

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 16 06:42:46 CDT 2008

 We are discussing Vedanta ParibhASha(VP) of Dharmaraja Adhvarindra - as I
               10. Questions related to Perceptuality

VP established that the criteria for perceptuality is that the subject
consciousness is the same as the object. Object is nothing but consciousness
(Brahman) with name and form, i.e., attributes of the object. Perceptuality of
the object in the mind then is when the consciousness underlying the subject
becomes one with the consciousness that is substantive of the object, the
attributes of the object being only superimpositions on the substantive,
consciousness. That ‘I am conscious’ is direct and immediate knowledge as no
means is required to know that I am a conscious entity. Criterion of
perceptuality therefore demands the unity in the consciousness of the subject
and that of the object. We can say that perception of an object is direct and
immediate since substantive of both the subject and the object in the mind is
consciousness alone, playing a duality- a unity at substantive level and
duality at the transactional level. 

Additional requirement and implication of the criteria of perception are
illustrated using question and answer format. 

On Dharma and Adharma:

Q. If the criterion for perceptuality is that the subject consciousness is the
same as the object, then one should perceive righteous and unrighteous (dharma
and adharma) instead of inferring them based on the good and bad results that
they generate. The criteria for perceptuality have been met since the
consciousness limited by them is not different from the subject consciousness
and existence of righteousness etc is not apart from that of the subject.
A. That is not so.  Here the VP reminds us besides the above criteria at
substantial level, there is also a requirement at transactional level that the
mental mood should have attributes as its contents.  In fact, to put more
exact, the attributes of the mental moods should be perceptible attributes. 
For righteous and unrighteousness the attributes are imperceptible as was
discussed before. 

Hence we can restate the criteria of perceptuality of an object. The criteria
involve both at substantial level and at transactional level (object has to
have attributes at transactional level which are superimposed on their
substantive Brahman).  At the substantive level, the consciousness and
existence of the subject should not be different from the object. At
transactional level the mental mood or vRitti that corresponds to the object
should have contents – attributes of the object.  The complete perception of an
object involves - Brahman + the attributes of the object. Brahman is
substantial and attributes are superimpositions or adhyaasa. VP establishes the
criteria for perceptuality in terms of both. In the case of dharma and adharma,
righteous and unrighteous, the attributes are imperceptible. Even if we meet
the substantial part, the transactional part is not met.  Because of the
imperceptibility of their attributes the knowledge of dharma and adharma is
difficult and has to be known only through shaastras. 

Can perception of one attribute cause perception of the other? 

Q.  If an object has two attributes say color and size, the perception of one,
say color, should also lead to perception of the other, the size. Since both
attributes are locussed on one object, the substantive, the limiting
consciousness is the same for both.  When mind through senses perceive one
attribute and VRitti is formed.  We are meeting all the criteria for
perception; the consciousness and existence of the knower, subject, is the same
as that of the object and object has perceptible attribute. Since object is
meeting all the perceptuality criteria, one should perceive the object with the
color and the size. Hence, perception of one attribute should lead to the
perception of the other.
A. No. when one perceives only one attribute, say color, the vRitti associated
with it will have only that attribute.  The consciousness and the existence of
the subject with the object only extend to that attributive existence. For
perception of the size, the VRitti has to have the associated attribute, the
size – for perception of the size of the object. Perception of one does not
lead to the other. A vRitti associated with other attributes have to be formed
for complete or unambiguous cognition of the object. 

What is implied in the perceptuality criteria is the perception is limited to
the vRitti of the object formed. If the sense data is incomplete, the object
perception is also incomplete to that extent. We defined object as limiting
consciousness-existence (Brahman) + A +  B + C + D + 
. attributes. For
perceptuality, the limiting consciousness-existence of the subject extends to
the limiting consciousness-existence of the object + whatever attributes the
senses have gathered up to the point, say A and B but not C and D. Then the
immediate and direct knowledge of the object involves object with A and B
attributes but not with C and D. If C and D are imperceptible for different
reasons, the object devoid of C and D are perceived. In the subsequent
recognition process if A and B are not sufficiently discriminative to recognize
the object from other similar object based on memory, then knowledge could be
erroneous.  Hence VP says the definition of perceptuality is not wrongly

Perceptuality of internal perceptions: 

Q. If we accept the perceptibility criteria as stated above then we cannot
extend this to internal perceptions. If we extend it to internal perceptions
involving mental states then we may run to infinite regress of mental state
having a mental state. Since that is not admitted, the perceptuality criteria
cannot be validated for internal perceptions.  The internal perception involves
having a mental state itself as an object of perceptions.  For perceptuality,
object should be the same as the consciousness-existence of the subject,
knower, with a vRitti consisting of attributes of the object. vRitti is a
mental state and the situation for internal perception reduces to mental state
having a mental state as an object and thus it leads to infinite regress. 
A:  That is not so, says VP.  Even though we avoid infinite regress by not
admitting a metal state to be an object of another mental state, mental state
is allowed to be its own object. Hence the object is not separate from the
mental state itself.  We have consciousness-existence of the subject not
different from the object, which is consciousness-existence as a mental state. 
The contents of the mental state are the attributes of itself as an object –
such as, happiness, anger, compassion, etc. The mental state itself is the
object of perception and there is no need of a separate object. Either way the
end result is the same. Subject or knower perceives these emotions directly and
immediately as these mental moods arise in the mind. VP states that the
criteria for perceptuality are validated even in internal perceptions of
emotions; happiness, anger, love, etc. 

Further explanation about the mental states:

Here VP extends the definition of a mental state. Up to now we have considered
a mental state is vRitti, a perturbation in the mind which has its substantial
content as existence and consciousness of the knower and its transactional
content, the attributes of the object. One can think of vRitti as wave in the
ocean which when it rises is illumined in the light of consciousness of the
sAkshI.  The reflected light of consciousness from the illumination is the
knowledge of the vRitti or the mental state. Hence all mental states are
illumined by sAkshI, witnessing consciousness and known because of the
reflection, in analogy of light falling on a body and the reflected light
revealing the object. We have extended next the mental state to include
internal perceptions, the contents of the vRitti being emotions such as
happiness, anger, etc. Mental state itself is an object of perception since
unlike in the external perceptions there is no object external to the mind. 
This concept is now extended further to include even the mind with its
attributes as an object of perception. 

The mind, as we know, is matter and thus an inert entity.  It is not
self-effulgent to know itself. For it to be known, it has to be illumined by
the light of illuminating consciousness of the sAkshI and the reflected light
of consciousness forms the knowledge of the mind.  Hence mind itself is an
object of knowledge.  Thus mind is a peculiar entity – which acts as both the
subject as well as an object. (Because of this reason only there is lot of
confusion, particularly in the western philosophies, to consider mind as the
conscious entity, a subject, at the same time considering it as an object for
analysis by both philosophers and psychologists).  Mind can act both as a
subject and an object.  When I say I know my mind or I changed my mind, I am
treating the mind as an object that I know and that I can change. Thus the mind
and its attributes are directly illumined and cognized as such.  VP says in
considering the mind with its attributes as objective knowledge, we can
consider the mind as though it is also a mental state with its attributes as
the contents. Hence, perceptuality criteria can now be applied in the cognition
of the total mind and its attributes, thus the definition of perceptually is
quite broad or is not narrow. 
Mind as a subject:

In perceptuality of objects, we stated that once perceptuality criteria are
met, the objects are known directly and immediately.  We can ask the question,
‘who is that ‘I’, the subject or the knower, who comes to know the objects,
this and that’?  It is the experience of everyone that he, the individual, is
the knower.  ‘I am a knower’ – pramAta - is also appears to be a mental state
that arises when the knowledge of ‘this’ takes place. It involves a vRitti that
tries to own that knowledge that has taken place (called pramANa phalam or
fruit of the knowing process). Thus we have two mental states – ‘this is a pot’
followed by ‘I know the pot’. They are called idam vRitti and aham vRitti,
‘this thought and I thought’. Thus mind itself seem to act as though it is both
a subject and an object.  But we know that mind is a matter and cannot be the
subject, knower, since knower has to be a conscious entity. The
consciousness-existence that is all pervading ever present is SAkshI or
witnessing-consciousness.  In advaita Vedanta, witnessing consciousness does
not play any active role, even witnessing that includes witnessing of vRittis
that arise in the mind.  It is self-shining ever present entity; yet in whose
light all things get illumined or witnessed or become known.  Hence, it does
not do any witnessing action but in its light things get witnessed. Thus, mind
and its attributes are known because of the light of consciousness from sAkshI
that illumines them. When the illuminated consciousness gets reflected by mind
and its attributes, they become known. Hence Krishna says – under my
presidentship, the prakRiti manifests itself as the whole creation – I am not
the doer but things are done in my presence – It is in that sense witnessing is
implied for sAkshI, as witnessing consciousness. 

Therefore, when I say ‘I know this’, I am the knower; the knower ‘I am’ is not
the sAkshii the witnessing consciousness, since knowing is a process that
involves modification and sAkshI does not or cannot (being infinite) undergo
any transformation. Before the knowledge took place, I was ignorant of ‘this’;
and now I am knowledgeable of ‘this’. Ignorant individual has been transformed
into a knowledgeable individual (with reference to ‘this’). That constitutes a
modification or vikaara. Hence subject or knower, ‘I am’ can not be the sAkshI,
since sAkshI cannot undergo any modification.  At the same time, knower has to
be a conscious entity, since unconscious entity cannot know. Then who is the
knower? A short answer is it is jiiva or ego who is the knower, since it is
that who claims as ‘I am the knower’, ‘I am a doer’ and ‘I am an enjoyer’, etc.
 Then the next question is who is jiiva or ego, in relation to the mind and its
moods.  According to Advaita Vedanta, jiiva or ego is also a mental state that
arises constantly, particularly in the waking and dream states. It is
consciousness-existence that I am, identifying with reflected limiting
consciousness in the mind called cidAbhAsa is jiiva.  Generally, when any
mental mood arises, it is immediately illumined, and the reflected illumination
constitutes the consciousness of the mood or knowledge of the mood (We are
using mental mood and metal state interchangeably). The contents of the mental
mood is ‘this’.  That  is, ‘this’ can be variable depending on the mental mood
that arises at that time – it could be intellect or mind or the body. 
The reflected consciousness with the identification of the mental mood as ‘I am
this’ – constitutes cidAbhAsa or ahankaara or Ego, or the one who takes the
role of the subject in relation to an object.  Thus ego always manifests in
relationships – Otherwise it is pure reflecting consciousness in the mind – as
knower, I am. This is called ‘aham vRitti’ – a mental modification of ‘I am’.
It is a vRitti, mental mood, but rises in the mind which is illumined directly
and immediately by sAkshI as the knowledge of the object vRitti takes place. 
Here the whole mind is considered as mental state, in contrast to object
generated mental states. Illumination of the whole mind by sAkshI is like
general light falling in the room everywhere or stage lights illuminating the
whole stage.  As long as the mind is functioning, mind as mental mood is
continuously present and it gets illumined in the presence of witnessing
consciousness. The reflected consciousness (same as knowledge) of the mind as
mental state takes the form as ‘I am’ – as existence-consciousness, since that
is the substantive for everything in the universe.  The subject ‘I am’ cannot
just remain without having a tangible object that it can identify with - that
is mind cannot remain without thinking.  Other mental states that arise in the
mind are like actors coming and leaving the stage who also get illumined by the
stage lights as well as the reflected light from the stage. When other vRittis
start associated with intellect, or subjective feelings of emotions or physical
body along with physiological function etc, the general reflecting
consciousness in the mind as ‘I am’ now identifies with ‘this’ – this being
related to vRittis that are locussed on objects starting from intellect,
emotions, memory, and to gross physical body. These translate as ‘I am this’,
‘I am this’, ‘I am this’, etc where ‘this’ keeps changing, or ‘this is mine’,
etc, since perceptuality criteria involves unity in the existence-consciousness
of the subject with object. This constitutes the formation of ego, where ‘I am’
is the general reflecting consciousness in the mind (which can be considered as
vRitti itself as an object) now identifying with particular vRittis generally
associated BMI (body, mind and intellect). 
In the language of VP the reflected consciousness of the Vritti is the
knowledge of myself as ‘I am this’.  That ‘this’ can be starting from the
intellect, the emotional mind or physical body – to all that contained in the
pages and pages of one’s autobiography or bio-data.  Thus, when mind and its
attributes get directly illumined by sAkshI chaitanyam, cidAbhAsa or reflected
limiting consciousness that is formed is ahankaara or jiiva or the ego.  The
reflected light of illumination can illumine subsequent objects just as the
reflected light from the moon can illumine the objects.  Because of its
capacity to illumine further ahankaara or Ego also assumes that it is the
knower or subject, although it is actually ‘borrowed light of consciousnesses
from the sAkshI.  

Self Realization:

We can now appreciate what is meant by self-realization involving the mind. 
Self or sAkshI does not need self realization since it is ever shining all
pervading pure consciousness.  Mind being inert cannot have self-realization,
yet without mind there cannot be any self-realization. As VP says mind itself
can constitute a vRitti.  All vRittis are illumined by sAkshI and the reflected
light of illumination is knowledge that includes self-knowledge. Hence
self-knowledge is due to reflection of the pure consciousness by the mind. The
general reflection of the light of consciousness in the mind is knowledge of ‘I
am’. When the mind is ignorant, it identifies ‘I am’ vRitti, which is more
permanent, with other vRittis which are variables, whose contents keep changing
with BMI, body or mind or intellect. Hence a combined (united reflected
consciousness of subject and object) mental state ‘I am this’, which is needed
for all transactions, forms the current understanding of I am, since I am
ignorant of my true nature.  When Vedanta teaches – you are not ‘this’ –‘neti –
neti – not this, not this’ guiding us to drop the identification of ‘I am’ with
‘this’. What is involved is not dropping ‘this’ by going into ‘this-less state
such as nirvikalpa samAdhi or deep-sleep’, but by dropping identification with
‘this’. When the identification is dropped, what is left then is pure
reflecting consciousness or knowledge of I am. This ‘I am’ is pure reflected
light of consciousness without any identifications, that is, the reflection of
sAkshI, the all pervading consciousness. Hence self knowledge is the knowledge
(in the mind) that the reflected light is nothing but pure light alone. This is
similar to knowing that the reflected sunlight in the room from all corners is
nothing but sunlight only. That reflected light of consciousness includes not
only the general reflections all around in the mind but even the localized
reflections by vRittis that keep forming due to perception of the world of
objects, involving ‘this’, ‘this’ and ‘this’. That is the unity in the
consciousness of the subject with the object, which is a criterion for
perceptuality.  Realization, therefore, is an understanding that I am not only
sAkshI but sAkshyam too, that is I am not only the witnessing consciousness but
witnessed reflected consciousness also. That is I am beyond both sAkshI and
sAkshyam that ever present pure consciousness that I am. This knowledge takes
place in the mind only as reflected consciousness. Interesting aspect is we
need a reflected consciousness to recognize that I am not the reflected
consciousness but the pure consciousness that is getting reflected because of
the presence of upAdhis. That is we need a mind to say I am not the mind. We
need body to say I am not the body. We need speech to say I am not the speaker.
Thus we need upAdhis to say I am not the upAdhis. Without the upAdhis there is
no realization – since without upAdhis who is there to realize what? Hence VP’s
declarative statement in the beginning itself that all perceptual knowledge is
nothing but pure consciousness alone. 

As long as the mind is there, the reflection will be there. Hence for a jnaani,
who has understood that I am that light of consciousness beyond any reflections
(that understanding is by the reflected consciousness only like reflected room
light realizing that even while reflection is occurring I am actually the
original light without which no reflection is possible), can still enjoy all
the reflections and uses upAdhis identifying with them, for the purpose of
transactions. Hence jnaani, even while identifying with upAdhis does not take
himself to be the upAdhis – that is identifying with the intellect knows that
he is not the intellect, identifying with the mind and its emotions knows that
he is not the mind and the emotions, and identifying with the body knows that
he is not the body with its problems. He is considered as JIvan mukta,
liberated while residing in the limited upAdhis. The upAdhis drop out due to
exhaustion of even the prArabda karma, when there is no compelling reason to
maintain them. Since that includes the subtle body, which is mind with all its
components, all transactions cease including jiiva-hood. There is no more cause
for transmigration or rebirth. He is now pure consciousness itself even without
any reflections – that is called videha mukti. We will address this issue again
when we discuss about jiiva and jiiva sAkshI.
Coming back to the mind, VP states here that the mind and its attributes
including the ego can be considered as mental states, which are illumined and
the reflected limiting consciousness forms the knowledge of these states. The
perceptuality criteria can be applied by considering the mind and its
attributes also as vRittis.  Just because we are considering the mind and its
attributes are also vRitties with associated attributive objects for the
purpose of direct and immediate perception, we are not contradicting our
assumption that they are directly illuminated by sAkshI chaitanyam.  To be
cognized by direct illumination by sAkshI chaitanyam does not mean that the
objects of witness cannot be vRittis or mental states. It only means that for
their cognition we do not need help from any sense organs. In addition, it also
means that the other means of knowledge such as inference is not needed since
cognition of the mind and its attributes are direct and immediate.  Hence VP
says that the advaitic masters have admitted ego or cidAbhAsa as a mental state
which can be cognized directly and immediately, since the criteria for
perceptuality are met. 

Application to illusions: 

The question next addressed is concerning the prAtibhAsika objects – such a
snake where there is a rope or silver in a shell. Because of the limited data
from the senses, the attributive knowledge of the object is not sufficient for
correct cognition of the object.  The perceptuality condition of the object are
met and therefore even when there are errors in the cognition, the cognized
object is recognized based on the attributes available for the mind. The error
occurs in the recognition process from the memory. Cognitive condition or
perceptuality criteria have been applicable even in the case of illusory
perceptions and therefore VP says they are not restrictive or narrow. 
Hence in summary, an object is said to be cognized by perception, when  (1) it
is cable of being perceived, (2) it has no independent existence apart from the
consciousness associated with the subject or knower, and (3) which has the
limiting adjunct a mental state or vRitti in the form of the object
(attributive content of the object). 

In forming the vRittis or mental states Nyaaya philosophers have considered
various other relations between the substantives and the attributes, and how
the sense organs relate to these in grasping and forming mental states.  We
have discussed already some aspects of these, such as samyoga and samavaaya.
Additional relations are considered such as samyukta-tAdAtmya, samyukta
abhinna-tAdAtmya, sannikarSha, etc.  These are involved in the production of
mental states of objects with attributes that are revealed by reflected
consciousness.  From advaita point all are superimpositions on the all
pervading conscious existent entity, Brahman.

Next we will consider the components of the mind.

Hari Om!

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