[Advaita-l] Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 24
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 29 09:40:21 CDT 2008
We are discussing Vedanta ParibhASha of Dharmaraja Advarindra, based on my understanding.
Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge – 24
In the conclusive part of the section on perception, VP summarizes the essence of the perceptual knowledge. First, perceptual knowledge is direct and immediate. There are two types of perceptual knowledge. One is based on the sense input forming the attributive content of the vRitti, which gets illuminated as it forms by the witnessing consciousness. All the objects that are external are perceived through the sense input of their attributive content. The five senses, consisting of the sense of sight, the sense of sound, the sense of smell, the sense of taste, and the sense of touch, provide their input to the mind in the form of vRitti. Each of the five senses, having its field of operation specific, is connected to its respective sense organ. Thus eyes can only see and ears can only hear, etc. The world is seen through these five senses hence it is called in Sanskrit, pra-panca. The second kind of perception that was discussed by VP corresponds
to the internal perceptions in the mind. Mind, however, is not a sense organ, in the Vivarana advaitic tradition. The mental imaginations or intuitions may be considered as part of the sixth sense, but those do not come under direct perceptual processes. The internal perceptions include the pleasures and pains, emotions of anger, love, jalousie, etc., which are also perceived and cognized as direct and immediate, as they rise in the mind. The attributive contents of these emotions or internal perceptions are not from sense input, although sense input could give rise to these internal perceptions. For example, I may see an object of my love or hate in front of me, by perceptual process. However, that object may raise emotions of love or hate due to my attachments, and these emotions constitute internal perceptions, since the attributive content of the these emotions are not based on sense of vision, but on emotional attachments that I have. The
vRitti that is formed with attributive content of emotions are immediately illumined by witnessing consciousness as it rises in the mind. Perceptuality condition is met when the existence of these emotions is united with the consciousness of the subject.
VP also states here that the sense of smell, sense of taste, and the sense of touch apprehend their respective objects while remaining where they are. The sense of vision, the sense of sound have wider capacity to travel to the objects that are away. We have already pointed out that, as per the current understanding of the science, the sound and light do travel by wave propagation and received by the eyes and ears forming the attributive content of the object. Without the loss of generality, we can say that eyes and ears do have a wider vision, where the objects do not have to be in contact with the sense organ like the case of the taste and touch. The objects of smell are somewhat tricky in the sense that we smell the fragrance emitted by the object out there away from the nose, but the emitting fragrant molecules from that object have to reach the nose for one to perceive the attributive smell of that object. However, in all cases, the vRitti that
forms should have the attributive content from the sense input for direct perception of the object that is external to the mind. Here we are using the mind as the reference for defining what is external and what is internal.
vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika
We would like to make a distinction between the two aspects of perception before we go into other forms of pramaaNa, since VP has discussed about the perception of objects in the dream. The creation can be broadly classified as Iswara sRiShTi and jiiva sRiShTi or creation by the Lord and creation by an individual. Creation by the Lord constitutes the total mind and creation by an individual constitutes the individual mind, macro cosmic world and micro cosmic world, respectively. The two can also be stated from an individual perspective as ‘it is there; therefore, I see it’ and ‘I see it; therefore, it is there’. In both cases there is a common theme – ‘I see it’, that is, ‘it’ is established or its existence is established by my perception. This is similar to the two descriptions of the creation; sRiShTi dRiShTi and dRiShTi sRiShTi. Vidyaranya says in Pancadasi that what is out there is Iswara sRiShTi and what I experience (of what
is there as well as what I project) is jiiva sRiShTi. Experience is at subject level and what is there is objective world of plurality which is nothing but Iswara sRiShTi. We need to understand the interrelation between the two that plays a role in the perceptual process. The confusion can arise, as in many western philosophies, resulting in incorrect philosophical positions, if we do not separate the two entities involved in the perception.
Let us examine the macroscopic universe. Iswara is defined by all religions as ‘jagat kartaa IswaraH’, the creator of this entire universe or ‘The Cause’ for the whole universe, himself being a causeless cause or unborn (ajo nityaH shAsvatoyam purAno ..). Most of the religions stop with that description of the creator as pertaining to the intelligent cause for the universe. Vedanta goes one step further to define that Iswara is not only intelligent cause or nimitta kAraNa, but upAdAna kAraNa or the material cause as well. We have thus an improved definition for Iswara as ‘jagat kAraNam IswaraH’, where kAraNam or cause involves undifferentiable intelligent and material cause (abhinna nimitta upAdAna kAraNa). By defining that the material cause of the universe is also Iswara, and since material cause has to pervade the effects (just as gold pervades the ornaments), Vedanta puts Iswara not up in the skies but right here as the whole universe
of objects. Thus Iswara pervades the universe as the very substantive for it. Ontologically, the cause and effects have different degrees of reality; Iswara is sentient and world is insentient. With this, Vedanta provides a third definition for Iswara, to the contemplative students, as ‘sarva adhiShTAnam IswaraH’, that is, Iswara forming the substantive for all the sentient and insentient entities in the universe. Implication of this in the perceptual process is very profound and is captured by Advaita Vedanta. This forms the basis for the objective knowledge as attributive knowledge, since substantive for all objects being Iswara, who is imperceptible. (I was listening to Swami Paramaarthanandaji talks on Saddarshan of Bhagavan Ramana this morning, where Swamiji clearly endorses the above statements that Iswara (Brahman) is the substantive and because of this fact, all objective knowledge is only attributive knowledge, since sense cannot gather
substantives). Because of the non-substantive or only attributive knowledge of the objects, errors in perception can also occur at an individual level due to incomplete attributive knowledge of the objects perceived by the senses due to adventitious defects, such as poor illumination, etc. Because of the lack of substantive knowledge by the senses, the fundamental error that ‘what I see (the world of objects) is real’ also occurs. Even at a relative level, error in perception occurs by the same reason. I take for granted that the silver that I see is real based on the attributive silvery-ness gathered and due to lack of the substantive knowledge of nacre. Thus the error both at relative level and at absolute level is due to lack of substantive knowledge of the object.
In addition, Iswara being substantive for all objects, objects do not have substance of their own. They also lack inherent quality that defines them uniquely and precisely as their swaruupa lakshaNam (necessary and sufficient qualification that defines the object uniquely to differentiate it from the rest of the objects in the universe). They are only names for forms or attributive content. For the objects constituting the universe, the attributes of the objects that differentiate one object from the other also come as part of their creation, starting from the primordial cause – maayaa. The blue prints for the creation of universe of objects are provided by the karmas of jiivas in the previous cycle; and for the previous cycle previous to previous cycle; thus the creation becomes beginningless. Maaya is defined as the force which makes one to appear as many, with each apparent object differentiable from others by its attributive content. Any force
is always defined or recognized only by its effect, as illustrated by the Newton’s laws of force. Newton, for example, defines the force as that which moves an object at rest or that which changes the magnitude or direction of a moving object. Or conversely, the force is recognized or defined by the changes in the movement. Similarly maayaa is defined that which causes one to appear as many, similar to gold appearing as many ornaments. Locus for the force is Iswara, himself. Thus Vedanta provides the definition for maayaa as prakRiti (maayantu prakRitim vidyaat) that projects the world of plurality of movables and immovables, starting from one, under the direction of Iswara. Thus Iswara sRiShTi at the absolute level is nothing but Iswara himself appearing as many objects, with varieties of attributive content. Since senses cannot grasp Iswara, the substantive of all, they gather the attributive content of the objects that are within the reach of the
senses. Since attributes are not the objects per sec, it appears that in the perceptual process the attributes are getting separated from the substantive. Attributes cannot exist without substantive. Since Iswara is all pervading or infinite and being substantive, attributes cannot be separated from the infinite, either. In the relative plane, each of the five senses measure the attributes of the objects ‘out there’ depending on their capabilities, and the measured attributes gets locussed in the image ‘vRitti’ that forms in the mind. Thus object ‘out there’ with the attributes and the associated vRitti’s in the mind with sense-measured attributes are inter related as the later is the image of the former created by the individual jiiva, in his own mind. We can consider that the objects ‘out there’ are Iswara sRiShTi and image in the mind that forms is jiiva sRiShTi, although the mind of the jiiva and the capacity of the mind to
create come from Iswara only. Thus perceptuality condition is stated by VP as the existence of the object out there is imaged as the existence in form of the vRitti. This existence now in the form of vRitti is united with the consciousness of the subject, for the subject to be conscious of the vRitti. Thus, through the vRitti, conscious of object ‘out there’, with the attributes of the object that the senses could gather, becomes perceptual knowledge of the object. The vRitti replicates in a subtle form the object out there, only to the degree that the senses could capture the attributive content of the object perceived. The errors can therefore arise if the attributive content of the vRitti do not completely replicate the original object. The reasons could be defects in the senses or defects in the auxiliary causes such as insufficient light, or some other obstructions, etc. Therefore what I see as the world is limited by my senses.
At the individual level, jiiva also does exactly the same in the creation of the dream world, at micro cosmic level. He becomes Iswara for the creation of the dream world of plurality. The intelligent and the material cause rests with jiiva for the dream. We can broadly define the vyaavahaarika satyam or transactional or transmigrational reality corresponds to Iswara sRiShTi and prAtibhAsika as the individual mental projection of the world of plurality. When jiiva goes to sleep, the mind of the jiiva, supported by the same witnessing consciousness, now forms the basis for the projection of the dream world of plurality. Interestingly, mind not only projects the inert objects, but even the sentient entities in the dream world along with jiiva now localized as a separate subject who is experiencing the dream world of plurality. That jiiva in the dream is awake and has his own body, mind and intellect separate from the beings that have their own bodies,
minds and intellects. Thus the analogy between the dream world as the jiiva sRiShTi and waking world as the Iswara sRiShTi is exact. For the dreamer jiiva (who is actually awake in the dream) the dream world is real just as the waker jiiva in the waking world sees the waking world as real, while concluding that the dream world that he saw in his dream was not real since it is sublated. This conclusion is by a waker not a dreamer. For a dreamer the dream world is as real as the mind that sees and feels. Considering the dreamer subject, he perceives the objects of the dream world in front of him, through his senses, similar to the process in the waking world- so states the ManDukya Up. In fact the Upanishad uses a parallel statement for dream as in the waking world with ‘ekona vimshati mukhaH .. etc, describing the dreamer’s outlook of the dream world in parallel to the waker’s out look of the waking world. The perceptuality condition has to be
satisfied in the dream world too. The dream world is external to the dreamer. His mind may project internal perceptions and vRittis in his mind – which are different from the minds of the other jiivas in his dream world. What is external and what is internal is now defined from the point of the dreamer’s tiny mind. The waker’s mind that went into sleep is now all pervading and forms the material cause for all the objects and beings, including their body-mind-intellect assemblies. Thus we have vyaavahaarika and prAtibhAsika in the dream world too where vyaavahaarika is defined as Iswara sRiShTi and prAtibhAsika is jiiva sRiShTi. The relative planes have shifted relative to each other – The systems otherwise are exactly parallel. What is real and what is unreal in these projections therefore depends on the reference plane. The absolute reality independent of any frame of reference, as ManDukya declares in mantra 7 as turiiyam and is the pure
existence-consciousness which is advaitam, one without a second. That alone is the absolute truth. In all other planes of reference, the limiting existence-consciousness manifests as the relative knowledge through the perceptual process. The declaration of the scriptures is - you are that. When one is conscious of the object, the consciousness that beams through as the reflected consciousness as knowledge of the object is nothing but pure consciousness alone, as declared by VP in the very introduction to the topic of perception. Every perception of object is therefore soaked in my consciousness for me to be conscious of the object. Hence Bhagavan Ramana says in his Upadesa saara:
dRisya vAritam cittamAtmanAH|
citta darshaNam tatva darshaNam||
In the perception of every object (dRisyam) there is existence-consciousness reflected on it. Hence if we remove the attributive content (or look beyond the attributive content) what is there in every dRisyam is the pure existence-consciousness alone. The existence of the object is united with the consciousness of the subject to cause perceptual knowledge. The substantive for both the object and the subject is pure existence-consciousness alone. Ramana states that understanding of the substantive forms the inquiry of the nature of the reality of the jiiva-jagat or subject-object duality.
Hence VP statement in the beginning – pratyakshapramaa ca atra caitanyam eva – knowledge of perception as ‘conscious of the object’ is nothing but pure consciousness alone - is justified by the detailed analysis of the perceptual process. Shifting from the attributing content of the vRitti to the illuminating consciousness that forms the basis for the knowledge of the object – forms an essential saadhana to recognize that the substantive for the whole world of objects is nothing but consciousness alone. The scriptural declaration - Sarvam khalu idam brahma - all this is nothing but Brahman - becomes evident through the inquiry of the perceptual process. When the objects are perceived with the attributive contents, along with the attributive knowledge which is represented as ‘form’, naming has to take place representing the knowledge. Naming is knowing, and perceptual knowledge therefore leads to name and form constituting the world of
objects, since the substantive is Braham, which is beyond the name and form. Hence object is nothing but Brahman with name and form. The statement also implies that world is as perceived by a conscious entity establishing its existence with names and forms. Hence world is established by the knowledge its existence. Without a conscious entity, world cannot be independently established.
We will now take up the analysis of Inference as pramaaNa.
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