[Advaita-l] Problems in Rope-Snake Analogy

Ananta Bhagwat ananta14 at yahoo.com
Tue May 27 13:48:56 CDT 2008

----- Original Message ----

From: Suresh
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Subject: [Advaita-l] Problems in Rope-Snake Analogy

Rope-snake example is described by various Indic schools in different manner:

Rope is mentally connected with the image of the snake memorized in the mind due to error in cognition in the form of supernormal connection with snake (anyathA-khyAti of nyAya) or in the form of false externalization of subjective idea (Atma-khyAti of yogAcAra)

Prabhakara (akhyAti view of mImAMsA) holds that rope-snake confusion arises due to inability to discriminate between two types of cognitions. Prabhakara refuses to call any of them as erroneous cognitions.

mAdhyamaka (asat-khyAti) holds that non-real snake appears in place of non-real rope.

sAnkhya view (sadasat-khyAti) sees the 'same thing' as sat (rope) or asat (snake)...(view of kapila); or sees united cognition of real and unreal object ... (view of aniruddha).

Ramanuja (sat-khyAti) treats both rope and snake as real because snake has cognate elements of rope and falsity of perception lies not in the unreality of the object but in its failure to serve any practical purpose.

Finally, advaita subscribes to anirvacanIya-khyAti (IshTasiddhi of vimuktAtman in line with the general position mentioned by Sankara in adhyAsa-bhAshyA) where rope is empirically real (substratum) while the erroneous cognition of snake as indescribable or indeterminable.

All Schools tacitly assume that at the empirical level observer (jIva) has some previous knowledge of rope as well as snake to be able to identify them (erroneously or otherwise) by the respective name of rope and snake.

This example shows how various Indic Schools subtly differentiated their positions. This also shows that most of the schools consolidated their position through polemical discussions and as such they were competitors as well collaborators in spite of their name calling at times.



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