[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 19

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 1 10:46:45 CDT 2008

We are discussing Vedanta ParibhASha of Darmaraaja Advarindra, as I understand. VP addresses briefly the ontological status of pariNAma and Vivarta aspects of creation and then discusses the status of silver that is seen where nacre is.  Because of the importance of this topic, we provide some detailed analysis of creation as a transformation. 

                        Knowledge and the Means of knowledge -19

Creation as a transformation:

Vedanta says Brahman is one without a second – ekam, eva, advitiiyam.  One, alone, without a second, and Shankara comments on the use of these three separate words – ekam, eva and advitiiyam – to negate differences of any kind.  Three kinds of differences can exist; vijaati, sajaati and swagata bhedas and hence Shankara says three separate words are used by the scripture only to negate all these three types of differences. Differences between different genus (says trees different from stones – vijaati bheda), differences within the same genus or family (among the trees say mango tree is different from coconut tree, etc – sajaati bhedas) and differences within a unit or vyakti (in a tree the roots, branches, leaves, fruits, etc are different- swagata bhedas). The differences exist because all objects are made up of parts. In Brahman, since it is one without a second, there is nothing else to differentiate it from. Hence scriptures also call
 Brahman as agotram – meaning it does not belong to any family or genus since it is one without a second.   It is undifferentiated homogeneous mass of consciousness defined by Vedas as prajnaanam brahma.  We have discussed this before that it is a swaruupa lakshaNam of Brahman implying that consciousness is Brahman and Brahman is consciousness. Since consciousness has to exist, Brahman is also defined as pure existence.  Being one without a second Brahman has to be limitless or anantam which also means that it is of the nature of pure aananda swaruupam.  Implication of all this is that there cannot be anything other than Brahman, and therefore there cannot be anything other than pure undifferentiated infinite existence-consciousness. 

The question then arises as to how to explain the universe of things and beings consisting of many conscious and inert entities.  Brahman, a conscious entity without a second appear to transform itself into many things and beings as the Shruti says – bahusyaam, prajaayeya – let me become many and it became many.  How does one become many?  Here two prominent theories exist – one is pariNAma vAda and the other is vivarta vAda.  VP discusses the difference between the two. Advaita subscribes to vivarta vAda. 

PariNAma involves complete transformation of one thing to the other – like milk becoming a yogurt or curds.  In science, we call this as irreversible transformation – in this transformation of one thing to the other, the cause is destroyed in the formation of the product.  VP says in this kind of transformation, pariNAma, both cause and effects are ontologically in par – pariNAmo nAma upAdAna samasattAkakAryApattiH – the material cause, upAdAna kAraNa, ontologically has the same existence as the product.  Another example of pariNAma is when a ring is changed into a bangle.  Both ring and bangle has the same degree of reality.  VishishTAdvaita, following SAnkhya, subscribes to this type of transformation for creation.  In doing so one gives the product the same degree of reality as the material cause.  Hence jiiva and jagat become equally real as Brahman from which they form just as milk and the yogurt or curds.  

In contrast, vivarta involves a transformation of the cause into products without the cause getting destroyed during the transformation.  Hence, it is called an apparent transformation.  Scriptures give three examples to illustrate this transformation – just as clay becoming many types of clay-vessels, just as gold becoming many golden ornaments, just as iron becoming many iron-tools – Ch. Up 6-1-3. In all these cases of vivarta transformation material cause pervades the effects without itself undergoing any transformation. Hence VP says – vivarto nAma upAdAnaviShamasattAkakAryApattiH – in the production of a product, the upAdAna kAraNa or material cause has different degree of reality or existence than the product. That is, ontologically the cause and the effects are different. In the case of formation of a ring from gold, gold remains as gold and ring is produced by this vivarta or transformation-less transformation.  Is it gold or a ring?  We
 normally call it as golden ring.  But that is a misnomer as we are giving more importance to the name and form than to the substantive.  It should be rightly called ringly gold.  That is, it is gold with the quality of being in the ring form. Although the word ring is a noun, it has no substantive of its own. That is, ring cannot exist independent of gold while gold can exist independent of a ring.  These are expressed in anvaya-vyatireka (co-existence and co-absence) logic in tarka shaastra.  This logic is used to establish the relation between two entities that exist together, whether they are interdependent or independent of each other – that is their ontological status with respect to each other.  anvaya implies one is, the other is- that is, both exist simultaneously. Starting from a ring – ring is, gold is – implying that wherever ring is gold has to be there, without gold present ring cannot be there. At this stage we do not know which is
 independent and which is dependent. Now we apply vyatireka. vyatireka involves their absence – ring is not but gold is – that is even if ring is destroyed by melting, gold still remains. That proves the gold is relatively has more independent existence. Gold transforming into a ring is vivarta type. The material cause and the product, VP says, have different degrees of existence. One is more real than the other. 

Let us apply this anvaya-vyatireka logic to milk and yogurt.  Applying anvaya – milk is, yogurt is not. And vyatireka says milk is not, yogurt is.  Thus they both are independent of each other. In the language of VP they have the same degree of existence or reality. That is the nature of pariNAma.

Coming back to vivarta transformation - in relation to ring and gold – existence of ring is of lower reality since ring can be negated without gold getting negated by changing ring into bangle.  Gold remains as gold while ring can be changing from one form/name to the other.  With respect to gold, transformation is vivarta, but with regard to ring transforming into a bangle, it is pariNAma.  According to Advaita Vedanta all objects in the universe come under this category.  Every object is relatively more real than the other.  Relative realities are called vyavahaara satyam.  Absolute reality remains with Brahman as it is one without a second and part-less.  Also it remains as Brahman without undergoing any transformation during the creation of the universe, since it is infinite.  Infinite cannot undergo any transformation.  Just as gold appear to transform into ornaments without itself undergoing any transformation, Brahman transforms into
 space-air-fire-water-earth as per Vedantic declarative statement – let me become many and he became many. Because of vivarta or transformation-less transformation, Brahman remains as Brahman, while there are verities of products by their combinations and permutations. It expresses as existence in all, and only as consciousness and happiness also in subtle products depending on the subtleness or the purity of the objects.  Just as it is ringly gold, substantive of every object is Brahman only.  Hence the famous Gita sloka – brahmaarpaNam brahma haviH …everything is nothing but Brahman and there is nothing other than Brahman, neha nAnAsti kincana. 

Question: If Brahman is undifferentiated pure consciousness, how can one undifferentiable entity become many differentiable entities? In the creation of ring, bangle, etc, there is an intelligent cause, the gold smith, and instrumental cause; his tools which help him make intelligently the beautiful ring, bangle, necklace, etc, i.e. varieties of forms.  Similarly in the creation of universe of names and forms, there must be material cause and instrumental cause.  If these causes are separate from Brahman, then Brahman is not one without a second. If they are the same as Brahman then Brahman has internal parts – material, instruments and intelligent causes constituting Brahman. Either way the fundamental postulate that Brahman has no internal divisions is violated. 

Answer: Not so.  Since Brahman is without second, all causes rest in Brahman. Since Brahman is pure consciousness, there cannot be anything other than pure consciousness – Since there is a creation, advaita considers it as an apparent creation or transformation less transformation or vivarta.  The intelligent, the material as well as instrumental causes are also apparent for the apparent creation.  From the point of Brahman, there is really no creation from the absolute point, and one cannot count apparent entities as parts of Brahman since they are not real.  Ontologically they do not have the same degree of reality.  Ring, bangle, etc are different from each other but from the gold point there is no difference. It is ringly gold and bangly gold etc. Hence ontologically, gold has different degree of existence in relation to ring, bangle, bracelet, etc.  Ring, bangle, bracelet, etc are not parts of gold; they are gold that appears to have different
 forms.  Same way all objects in the universe are existence in different apparent forms with different names. From the point of existence, it remains as indivisible and undifferentiable and thus part-less in spite of differentiable attributive universe. 

Question: Even so, attributes of ring are different from attributes of bangle, etc. Since it is an intelligent and ordered creation, there have to be causes for these attributive differences in order for the objects to be created, even if they are apparent. Thus, even if there are no specific objects other than ringly gold, bracelety gold, etc, they are attributive and have sajaati, vijaati and swagata bhedaas, as rings are different from bangles etc and one ring differs from the other and within the ring inside is different from outside. Similarly each individual is different from one another and they are not randomly created. There must be some cause for this order. If that cause is different from Brahman we have a duality and if that cause same as Brahman then we have internal differences in Brahman. Since cause for each product is different, attributes are different. 

Answer: Yes, there are causes for the attributive differences in the products.  In the vivarta transformation theses causes are also of the same degree of order as the products. This source for all these causes, according to advaita Vedanta, is called mAyA. mAyA is defined as yaa maa saa mAyA, that which appears to be there but is not there. Creation is not random.  The attributive differences in the products of creation come from karma, the subtle impressions or samskAra reminiscent from the previous creation, which is also called vAsanas of jiiva’s from previous creation. The cause for the previous creation again comes from the previous to previous creation.  Thus, there is no beginning or end for this cycle of creation, sustenance and annihilation. Hence Krishna declares there is no reason for one to cry that some one is going to die as there was never a time the jiivas were not there (na tvevAham jAtu nAsam …). 

Objections: 1. There is no proof for introducing mAyA for the creation.  2. Scripture says that Brahman is that from which all beings are born, by which they are sustained and into which they go back – a). yatova imAni bhUtAni jAyante …Tit. Up  b). yat bhUta yonim paripasyanti dhIrAH –(Brahman is the source for all beings). Mun. UP.  c) janmaadyasya yataH (Br. Su.2). Finally, the whole doctrine is self-contradictory.  Brahman is infinite and part-less and at the same time there is a mAyA that is the cause for creation. mAyA cannot be separate from Brahman since it violates the infiniteness of Brahman – he can not be the same as Brahman.  MAyA has to be inert as it is different from Brahman since Brahman is defined as homogeneous mass of consciousness. MAyA cannot be conscious entity then we end up with two entities which are consciousness. Brahman cannot create even using mAyA then be becomes a kartaa.  The homogeneous all pervading consciousness
 cannot have mAyA, inert entity, either as separate or as an integral part. The whole philosophy seems to be based on shaky foundation.  

Answer: Several objections have been bundled together in the above. First, there is scriptural reference to mAyA – maayantu prakRitim vidyaat| Sw. Up. - ‘mayaa adhyaksheNa prakRitiH suuyate caraacaram’,Gita. ‘Know that mayaa is PrakRiti and prakRiti creates the whole universe of movable and immovable under my president-ship’. Hence mAyA is not advaitic interpretation. Brahman is consciousness as it swaruupam and by definition Brahman is infiniteness. Existence -consciousness has to be infinite by logic too.  Infinite cannot create since creation involves an action and therefore involves a modification. Yet there seems to be creation. Scripture also says that knowing Brahman one can know everything – this can be true only if everything is nothing but Brahman. And that Brahman you are – tat tvam asi – since you are a conscious-existent entity being swaruupa lakshaNam, by definition you are Brahman – aham brahaasmi is the absolute truth
 that the scriptures declare. Hence creation has to be looked at two different perspectives.  From absolute point, Brahman alone is – as pure homogeneous consciousness without any attributes, whatsoever since only finite objects can have attributes that differentiate them from other finite objects. MAyA can only be of the nature of mAyA, that is, it only an apparent factor that is the cause for the creation.  The wielder of mAyA or who is the adhyaksha is Iswara, as Krishna declares following the upanishadic statement – maayinantu maheswaram (Sw. Up.). Thus Iswara, a conscious entity, using mAyA as his shakti or power creates the world of plurality using karma of the precious lives of the jiivas as basis for creation. Since it is born of mAyA shakti, the product is also of the nature of mAyA – that is one cannot say it is real or it is unreal – similar to ring and bangle that are created out of gold. Is ring real – no it is actually gold. Ring
 can undergo destructive transformation in becoming a bangle but Gold does not change in this transformation – From gold point the transformation is vivarta and from the ring point which is of lower order of reality, the transformation into bangle is pariNAma. Hence scriptural statements – let me become many (bahushyaam) and became many (prajaayeya) (where prefix pra- as Vidyaaranya says implies a peculiar transformation involving mAyA keeping Brahman intact or untouched during the transformation) and sarvam khalu idam brahma – all this (that we see) is nothing but Brahman and nehanaanaasti kincana (there is nothing other than Brahman).  Hence the creation has to be of the vivarta from Brahman point preserving the absolute reality while the creation at apparent level can continue at transactional level.  Thus analysis of the scriptural statements self-consistent and indicates the absolute nature of the reality in spite of apparent plurality. Hence
 the truth is advaitam. 

we next take up VP's analysis of this as it pertains to perception of silver where nacre is.

Hari Om!

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