[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 20

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 4 19:25:48 CDT 2008

We are discussing Vedanta ParibhASha of Dharmaraja Adhvarindra, based on my understanding.

                  Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge – 20

In the last post, we have introduced some fundamental concepts of advaita based on Vedanta pramaaNa. We will continue here some aspects this in understanding the perceptual knowledge in relation to the absolute knowledge.  The truth is; Brahman is absolute undifferentiable, infinite existence-consciousness.  From the Brahman point or absolute reference there is nothing other than Brahman. This is called paaramaarthika satyam.  If and when I see the creation consisting of various objects and beings, we are coming down to vyaavahaarika satyam or transactional reality where creation, creator, yoga, yogi, self-realization, saadhana, jnaani and ajnaani as well as perception of plurality along with mistaken notion that what is perceived is real, etc., including Vedas, all appear to exist.  Since scripture says Brahman alone is real, the vyaavahaarika satyam is mithyaa; that is, it is neither real nor unreal. It is apparently real but not really real. Hence
 scriptures say – there is nothing apart from Brahman- neha naanaasti kincana.  Therefore all the objects that I see, as well as the seer that I am, are nothing but Brahman, sarvam khalu idam brahma. Note the word ‘idam’ meaning ‘this’ which refers to an object that is perceived and which, by the above declarative statement of the scripture, is nothing other than Brahman.  Looking closely, ‘idam’ has a reference only when there is idam that is separate from aham.  But ‘idam’ by definition is inert, and by the use of the word ‘is’ it implies that it is existing.  Brahman is consciousness and by ‘is-ness’ associated with it (as ‘Brahman is’) it is also existence. If everything is Brahman, as the statement ‘sarvam khalu idam brahma’ ascertains, and since idam is inert, we conclude that Brahman expresses in the ‘idam’ as existence only.  Thus Brahman whose intrinsic nature is existence-consciousness expresses in
 everything fundamentally as ‘existence’. It expresses as both existence and consciousness in the conscious beings. 

In addition, ‘idam’s existence, or existence of ‘this’ is recognized by a conscious entity only. In the very recognition, involving knowledge of ‘this’, the perceptuality condition is met, wherein the limiting existence in the form of ‘this’ becomes one with the subject’s limiting ‘existence-consciousness’ in the form of ‘I am’ – to have the knowledge of -‘this is an object’ –and- ‘I am a knower of  this object’. This is true for all objects that are perceived via the mind and the senses. Hence in the perception of ‘this’, the ‘existence’ expressed as the limiting adjunct in ‘this’ is linked with consciousness that ‘I am’, to establish the knowledge of ‘this object is’, and cognition of that knowledge as ‘I know this object is’. In essence, consciousness-existence of the subject-object expressed as in the limiting adjuncts of ‘I am’ and ‘this is’ are involved in the perceptual
 knowledge involving perceiver and perceived.  Knowledge of every object therefore involves unity of the existence-consciousness, which is of the nature of Brahman, in the form of subject-object relation.  Hence Yagnyavalkya says to Gaargi in Br. Up. 3-8-11, ‘naanyadatosti draShTRi, naanyadatosti shrotRi, naanyadastosti mantRi, naanyadatosti vijnAtre..’ Without consciousness-existence present, there is nothing other to see, there is nothing other to hear, there is nothing other to think and there is nothing other to know. 

Hence Brahman is the substantive for everything including ‘this’ that is seen and ‘I am’ that is the seer.  Creation is only apparent or mithyaa. Seer-seen duality is also part of that mityaa.  Mithyaa is defined as sat-asat vilakshaNam – that which is neither sat nor asat – neither real nor unreal.  Real is that which does not undergo any transformation and unreal is that which has no locus for existence at any time.  Since the world of objects continuously undergoes mutations they cannot be absolutely real; and since they are there to experience, they are not unreal. Hence they come under mityaa, or as apparent.  

>From the point of Iswara, the power by which one can become many is defined as maayaa. It forms the basis for creation.  Creation being apparent and maayaa being apparent they are at the same degree of reality.  Thus the apparent cause and the apparent effects are of the same degree of reality – and this type of transformation is defined as pariNAma in VP.  From the point of substantive Brahman, the existence-consciousness, there is no transformation or it is only apparent transformation appearing as many yet remaining as Brahman only. This transformation is called vivarta.  Having defined both, VP now addresses the ontological status of the silver that we see, in fact, the status of any object that we see.  

Since we see an object ‘out there’, it is apparent that there is an object ‘out there’, which appears to be there for us to see.  Here seeing includes all sense perceptions.  We see an object – the associated vRitti that forms in the mind, which in-turn is seen in the reflected light of illuminating consciousness, saakshii.  Nothing can appear in this universe without having a substantive to support that appearance.  Hence, any appearance must have a substantive, which in-turn cannot be another apparent, since any further apparent-one should have again its own substantive that is not apparent.  The only substantive that is non-sublatable is Brahman – existence-consciousness.  Existence itself cannot undergo any transformation or pariNAma.  Hence VP says, when I perceive silver as ‘this is silver’ – there are two types of transformations involved in that perception. There is an object, prameya, as ‘this’; and there is a subject,
 pramaata, the knower, I am – resulting in the knowledge and cognition of that knowledge – as ‘I know this’. 

The perceptuality requirement involves therefore two transformations; one at the level of prameya- this, and the other at level of pramaata, the subject I am.  The perception of silver, which is mithyaa, by sense input of its silvery-ness is transformed into vRitti as ‘this’, which is also mithyaa. The object ‘out there’, and the vRitti of the object as ‘this is’ that formed in the mind associated with that object, both are ontologically in par since both are mithyaa.  The existence, as the limiting adjunct in the object ‘out there’, is now existence as the liming adjunct in the object ‘this’ in the form of vRitti.  Since both are neither real nor unreal, both are of the nature of ignorance or nescience only, and in both cases substantive is not revealed.  This is called maayaa at the level of Iswara and avidyaa at the level of jiiva, since Iswara knows and jiiva does not know.  From both perspectives it is mithyaa only.  (Krishna
 says it is difficult to unlock His maayaa ‘daiviim eshaa guNamayii mama maayaa duratyayaa..’ – maayaa of mine is of divine origin and cannot be easily overcome. Only way to overcome is complete surrenderance – and that surrenderance occurs only with the knowledge of the substantive, Brahman.)  Hence, the transformation, as per the above definition, is pariNAma since ontologically same degree of reality of existence in the form of limiting adjuncts is maintained.  The substantive for the object ‘out there’ is Brahman as existence in the limiting adjunct of an object ‘is’. This is revealed by the scriptures by the statement ‘sarvam idam brahma’, all this is Brahman. Likewise, the substantive for the vRitti in the mind, as perception of the object as ‘this’, is also existence as the limiting adjunct of ‘this is’. Since neither the substantive knowledge of the object ‘out there’, nor the substantive of the object perceived as
 ‘this’ are known by perceptual process, due to ignorance or nescience coving both, the knowledge remain as knowledge of the object as ‘this’- not as the substantive existence-consciousness, Brahman. The ignorance of the substantive knowledge of the object out there is now transferred into ignorance of the substantive knowledge of ‘this’ when the vRitti is formed. All this verbiage really means is the Brahman that is the substantive of object out there and the Brahman that is the substantive of the vRitti in the mind – both are not know to have the vision of Brahman when the object is perceived via the mind. The substantive as though covered by ignorance or nescience is not perceived since objective knowledge is only attributive and not substantive at any time. Perception as a pramaaNa cannot uncover that ignorance or nescience. 

The important point to note is the when we perceiver an object out there we say it is an existent object not existence as object (it is like golden ring rather than ringly gold) – existence as substantive is not recognized in the object there.  Similarly when the object is perceived through the vRitti – the knowledge is ‘this is an object’ and again not as this object as existence but only existent object. Since knowledge involves consciousness – the subject existent-consciousness is united with the existence vRitti of the object as ‘this is’ for the perception to take place.  Ignorance of the substantive pervades in the object out there and the vRitti of the object as ‘this’ – although all the process are occurring on the unifying substantive – consciousness-existence of the subject-object.

Objection: According to the description above, perception of the object involves formation of vRitti which when identified with the consciousness of the subject; the knowledge that ‘this is silver’ takes place.  How can the silver that abides in the consciousness of the subject be identified as an object that is ‘out there’ in front expressed as ‘this is silver’?  Essentially, how can the silver in the conscious mind becomes the silver out there in the front? One is the subtle thought in the mind and the other is the gross object out there. How the subtle thought in the consciousness can form the basis to conclude that the object in front as ‘this is silver’?

Answer: Since the question is raised by Naiyaayikas, VP uses their own analysis of the perception of happiness to answer the question. He uses what is popular known as  proverb – what is good for the goose is good for the gander. First, VP differentiates the pure consciousness from the limiting consciousness. In the discussion of the jiiva, we have stated earlier that the jiiva is qualified limiting consciousness and jiiva saakshii as just the limiting consciousness (without qualification or identification) or upahita caitanya, and pure consciousness is unbound and infinite. According to Nyaaya, happiness abides in the soul. Yet, it is experienced as abiding in the body, since one experiences happiness at the body level, even though the soul is the substratum of the happiness, etc. Thus the substratum for happiness is different from where it is experienced.  If Naiyaayikas have no problem in accepting this, they should not have problem of the
 perceiving the silver abiding in the consciousness as an object silver ‘out there’ in front.  This answer is only to show that Naiyaayikas have no basis to raise this objection. 

VP next categorically states that unqualified pure consciousness is not the substratum of the silver but substratum only for the consciousness limited by the meaning of the word ‘this’ – that is for the limiting consciousness in the form ‘this’. ‘This’ is the vRitti that is formed, which is illumined by the witnessing consciousness; and therefore one is conscious of ‘this’.  Thus ‘this’ is in the consciousness, for one to be conscious of ‘this’.  The contents of ‘this’ is the attributive content perceived through the sense input, which in this case is the silvery-ness of the object. The substantive of ‘this’ is the limiting consciousness itself, established by the unity of the subject-consciousness with the object ‘this’ of the vRitti. Thus the cognition of ‘this is silver’ in the limiting consciousness is connected to  something object out there in front, which has silvery-ness as its attribute.  Since the whole
 universe is nothing but Brahman, because of nescience or maayaa the world appears to be out there for the senses to perceive.  The substantive of the silvery object out there is Brahman expressed as existence.  Through the formation of the VRitti, with the sense input attributive silvery-ness and its unity with the subject consciousness, the object is now one with the limiting consciousness that has the mind as its limiting instrument. The silver out there is now ‘as though’ superimposed in the consciousness limited which is just the illuminating consciousness of the saakshii. Thus, in essence, Brahman as an object out there is now the Brahman as an object in the mind.  There is an ignorance associated with the existence of the object ‘silver’ out there (since it is taken as silver rather than Brahman) is now transferred as the ignorance of the perception of silver abiding in the substantive consciousness.  The substantive of the object silver
 out there and the substantive of the vRitti of the object silver in the mind – both are not recognized. But the truth remains that without the substantive consciousness limited by the mind, one cannot be conscious of the vRitti in the mind and therefore conscious of the object silver out there. No other agency, other than limiting consciousness, can cognize the silver out there. Limiting consciousness is nothing but witnessing consciousness. Hence Yagnyavalkya’s statement to Gargi in Bru. Up. quoted above that other than the consciousness nothing else is there to see, to hear, to think and to know - ‘naanyadatosti draShTRi.. etc. 
We will take others objections raised by Naiyaayikas in the next post. 

Hari Om!

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