[Advaita-l] Knowledge and The Means of Knowledge - 30

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 1 20:00:07 CST 2009

We are re-examining some of the VedantaparibhASha statements,
as was suggested by Shree Sastriji, in the light of Navya Nyaaya. Some
background of Navya-Nyaaya is being provided in the last and this post, based
on my understanding of D.H.H. Ingalls,’ Materials for the study of Navya-Nyaaya
Logic’, published by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.We are back to the series after a gap of several weeks.


Knowledge and the
Means of Knowledge – 30


We are discussing some of the concepts of Navya Nyaaya in
relation to Inferential knowledge.  In
the last post several Navya Nyaaya concepts are introduced starting from their
seven fundamental categories (padaartha-s). Of these, descriptions of substances
(dravya), generic character (jaati), ultimate difference (visheSha), and
absence (abhaava) were provided. Jaati is generic abstract qualifier that
inheres with the qualificand to make the qualificand to belong to a genus. For
example, pot-ness in a pot is abstract qualifier qualifying the pot so that the
pot belongs to a family of pots or pot-genus. Similarly, other examples are man-ness
in man, horse-ness in a horse or cow-ness in a cow.  In contrast to generic quality, there are
particular abstract qualities qualifying a particular specimen (vyakti) of a
genus. Thus in a statement ‘this is Devadatta’ – Devadatta has two qualifiers,
one a generic qualifier that is man-ness since Devadatta is a man, and the
other qualifier is Devadatta-ness. Man-ness will distinguish him to be
different from say animals or inert objects, and Devadatta-ness distinguishes
him from other men, who also have man-ness. The later is called relational qualifier.
The generic characters, man-ness, pot-ness, etc are arrived at after
observation of many men (and also many not-men) and many pots (and also many
non-pots). Similarly Devadatta-ness is also abstract quality arrived observing
him and his qualities in relation to other men who are not-Devadattas.
Particular qualifiers are specific to a given specimen (as in Devadatta-ness) and
require careful consideration in relation to other specimens of the same genus.
We have also discussed that ‘absence’ is also one of the fundamental category
of Navya Nyaaya.  We have mutual absence
(anyonyaabhaava) where identity is denied as in A ≠ B and vice versa, and
relational absence consisting of (a) prior absence (praagaabhaava) involving
absence of a thing before it is created, (b) posterior absence
(pradhvamsaabhaava) involving absence of a thing after it is destroyed and (c) constant
absence (atyantaabhaava) involving absence of a thing somewhere independent of
time (ex. there is constant absence of fire in the lake).  These absences are in relation to others.


Relations: Relation
involves two entities. There are many types of relations that can exist between
the two. The most common is ‘contact’ relation or samyoga, where A is in
contact with B.  Fire or smoke on the
mountain is a contact relation. Here fire or smoke is qualified by its contact
with the mountain which is its locus. It is a fiery or smoky mountain. The
other examples are pot which is on the table or table with a pot on it, where
qualifier and qualificand keep changing depending on the subject. The another
type of relation between two entities can be called samavaaya or relation of
inherence.  The generic characters,
jaati, have inherent relations with their loci. 
Ex. man-ness in man or horse-ness in horse, etc. These are inherent
characteristics that are not separable from their loci, unlike the case of
smoke and mountain. Taking the example of ‘fire on the mountain’ there are
several relations embedded in the statement. We have fire-ness in the fire,
mountain-ness in the mountain which inheres with their loci. In addition fire
and mountain have contact relation since fire is in contact with the mountain;
they do not inhere with each other. Similarly the relation between smoke and
fire, but in this case one is dependent on the other. Existence of smoke
depends on the existence of fire (not the other way), even though smoke does
not inhere with the fire. Every object, being made up of parts, inheres in its
parts. Thus cloth inheres on the threads, threads inhere on the cotton, and
cotton inheres in its molecules, etc. Ultimately, according to Nyaaya, the
atoms are self-dependent, and have ultimate qualities that differ for each


relations:  Another important
technical terms in Navya Nyaaya are limited (avacchinna) and limiter
(avacchedaka). All relations are limiting relations, because of which one locus
can be differentiated from the other. Consider a generic qualifier, pot-ness.
Obviously pot-ness is present in all pots but it is limited to only pots.  Similarly the particular qualifiers like
Devadatta-ness are limited to Devadatta, because of which Devadatta can be
recognized from other men. 


Adjunct (pratiyogi)
and subjunct (anuyogi):  The
relations are expressed in terms these two terms – adjunct (pratiyogi) and
subjunct (anuyogi). Adjunct normally means something addition to substantive.
In contact (samyoga) relations, adjunct is one wherein the relation is
expressed as one is in or on the other. The superstratum is adjunct (pratiyogi)
and the substratum is termed subjunct (anuyogi). In the case of smoke with
fire, smoke is the adjunct and fire is the subjunct. For fiery mountain, fire
is the adjunct and mountain is the subjunct. In the case of non-contact
relations, the qualificand is adjunct and the qualifier is subjunct.  The word pratiyogi is also used for absence,
and since absence cannot be called contact, its meaning in that case will be
different. Adjunct and subjunct are used to express relations while
superstratum and substratum are expressed in contacts. The superstratum is
called in Sanskrit as adheya and substratum is called adhaara. In the case of
pot and clay, clay is adhaara and pot is adheya. In this case the relation is
not of contact.  Vidyaaranya uses these
terms to denote the ontological difference between the two. Ontologically clay
is more real than pot since pot can change while clay remains as
changeless.  In Navya Nyaaya it is expressed
as pot inheres in clay as it is made up of clay. In the analysis of inference
connecting hetu (smoke) to saadhya (fire) Navya Nyaaya is very specific in
terms of the relations between the two. For example, in the conclusion that the
mountain possesses fire because it possesses smoke, it is to be understood that
the relation between smoke and fire is not of inherence but only of contact.
The smoke and fire have limiting relations in term of contact only. Similarly
the relations between the smoke and mountain and fire and the mountain are
limited by contact. On the other hand the relations between smoke-ness to smoke
and fire-ness to fire and mountain-ness to mountain, as well as pot to clay and
cloth to threads, etc are inherent relations. 


We discussed about the use of adjunct, pratiyogi, and subjunct, anuyogi, in
relations involving both contact (samyoga) and inherent (samavaaya) relations.
In the knowledge involving contact relation, ‘Fire is on the mountain’, fire is
adjunct and mountain is subjunct, anuyogi. The knowledge can be expressed in
negative format as in ‘there is constant absence of fire in a lake’ – the fire
may be called here as absential adjunct (abhaaviiya pratiyogi) since fire is
not there anytime in the lake – this is in contrast to presence of fire on the
mountain.  This constant absential
adjunct can be referred to as antyaataabhaava pratiyogini and can be called as
‘counterpositive adjunct’. Thus absence of fire in a lake is
counterpositive-ness of the fire in the locus, lake. In principle, any entity
which is negated in a locus by the absence x is a counterpositive of absence x
on the locus defined.  We use this example
later to state that absence of silver in nacre is a counterpositive of absence
silver in the locus, nacre that is there. Simply, it means negation of the
presence of silver in the shell in the past, present or future or its constant
absences independent of time, even though momentarily I mistake its presence
when I see from a distance. The mistake, of course, arises due to dominant
quality of silvery-ness present in the nacre since knowledge is based on
attributive content. The silvery-ness is necessary and dominant quality of
silver but that is not sufficient quality to define the silver – just as
sweet-ness is necessary quality of sugar but not sufficient quality to define
sugar. The reason is there are other objects that are not sugar but sweet like
sugar (ex. aspartame). Similarly when I pick up the object thinking that it is
silver based on the dominant attributive knowledge, I now gather other
attributes that are counter to silver, negating the presence of silver in the
object. This absence is counterpositive absence of silver (antyantaabhaava
pratiyogi) since silver was constantly absent (in the past, present and future)
in the locus, nacre.  


We have used the term ‘counterpositive-ness’ as an abstract
quality of fire in a lake or of silver in nacre. In general the
counterpositive-ness could be specific or generic absence of the thing in or on
the locus specified. It could be absence of specific fire or silver in the
locus specified or it could be generic absence of fire or silver in that locus.
Similarly the locus could be specific or generic as in particular lake or
particular nacre or in any lake or in any nacre.  Thus counterpositive-ness of absence of
silver-ness in any nacre-ness becomes generic statement that three is absence
of silver in any nacre at all times. The generic absences have the effect of
negating all particulars of given class. Thus the above generic statement
implies that ‘for all x, if x is a silver is not in any y, if y is any nacre’.
We should note that it is not the absence of silvery-ness in any nacre, but absence
of silver in any nacre. That is one can have silvery-ness without having silver
since silvery-ness as in sweetness is only one of necessary qualifications of
silver but not sufficient qualification of silver. That is it is not swaruupa
lakshaNa of silver. Thus by changing from specific to generic one can change
the limiting conditions for the counterpositive-ness – that is whether a
specific silver is absent at all times in a specific nacre, or silver in
general is absent in that particular nacre, or silver in general is absent in any
nacre, not necessarily in this particular one. 


As discussed before the negation of previous knowledge ‘that
there is silver’ occurs only after additional attributive knowledge of the
object perceived takes place – that is when I picked up the object thinking
that it is silver, I came to know that it is nacre and there is no silver
there. In fact the silver is counterpositive (absent at any time) in the nacre
and not that the silver that I saw was there before and now it disappeared. Similarly
the snake is counterpositive adjunct or atantaabhaava pratiyogini in the rope
that is there. This  knowledge I
recognize when I discover that it is rope. Likewise the world is
counterpositive adjunct on the Brahman as the scripture says, like a ring on
the gold. That is, there is never a world where Brahman is, even though I am
seeing it. 


With this background of Navya Nyaaya, we can reexamine now
the VedantaparibhASha statement.  


In the VedantaparibhAShA (VP) we are discussing how
inference can be used to prove that the universe is mithyaa that is it is
neither real nor unreal.   Whatever that exists other than Brahman, that
includes everything that can be objectified or perceived is mithyaa. We keep
the word mithyaa without translating it as illusion since illusion implies that
it is not real only, while mithyaa is both not real and not unreal.  It is not unreal also since it is experienced
unlike that of the son of barren woman. This aspect was discussed before with
the example of the perception of silver where there is nacre.  


VP defines mithyaa using the language of Navya Nyaaya that
the ‘mithyaa consists in something being the counterpositive of the absolute
nonexistence that abides in whatever is supposed to be in its substratum’ –
mithyaatvamca svaashrayatvena abhimata yaavanniShTA athyantaabhAva
pratiyogitvAt. In the case of the example of perception of silver where nacre
is, silver is mithyaa since its counterpositive absence of its existence is in
the place that it is seen, i.e. nacre. That is, there is absolutely no silver
at the locus at any time. When the object was seen for the first time, due to
dominant attributive silvery-ness of the object seen, it was cognized as
silver. It is not the cognition of real silver but it is cognition of false
silver, since cognitions are based on dominant attributive knowledge of
silvery-ness of the object not the substantive of the object. However, the
false or mithyaa silver is taken as real silver. Hence effort was made to pick
up that silver seen. When the object was picked up, the object was recognized
as nacre with the knowledge that ‘there is no silver here’. This understanding
involves not the absence of silver ‘now’, leaving a doubt that it was silver
before. It is absolute absence of silver all the times in the place where it
was seen. In the terminology of Navya Nyaaya, it involves existence of the
absolute non-existence of silver at all times in the place where nacre is. Hence
it is counterpositive absence involving constant absence independent of time
that includes even when it was originally seen as silver that prompted an
action to pick it up.  What is falsified
is the false silver but was taken as real at that time, since there is no real
silver at the locus at any time. This definition for mithyaa is effectively one
of the five definitions of falsity that MadhusUdana Saraswati uses in his Advaita


We can apply now to the world seen. What ever seen is
mithyaa but is taken as real just as silver is taken as real. The existence
part of the world provides the basis for the falsity of the world since 'world
is' meaning world exists – just as the silvery-ness of the object provided the
notion of existence of real silver at the locus.   Since
the object exists and therefore world exists. Hence all the worldly
transactions and samsaara or the resulting suffering associated with the notion
of reality to the world follow.  When I realize
that I am not ‘this that I thought I am’ but I am that Brahman, the substantive
for all, including the world that I see and transact with, the reality associated
with the world is falsified. It is recognized as mithyaa – that is counterpositive
of absolute nonexistence at any time at the locus where it is seen. Hence
reality of the world was not there, is not there and will not be there and what is there
always is Brahman that I am, which is ever present or eternal and never changing and infinite
existence- consciousness. The false world that is seen is falsified or
recognized as false. Just as the silvery-ness of the object nacre still remains
but the wrong notion that there is silver is gone in the understanding that is
nacre. Thus mithyaa attribute of silver remains without assigning substantive
reality to the silver. It is also understood that the absence of silver is
counterpositive absolute absence at all time that includes even in the past
when I thought that it was real silver in the object seen. Similarly when I
realize Brahman, the world is recognized as mithyaa and not real that I thought
it was. Hence mityaatvam (unreality or illusory nature, although not proper
translation) of the world is recognized only when I have the clear
understanding that there is only Brahman and I am that Brahman. Knowledge of
Brahman does not negate the world but negates the reality assigned to the world
just as appearance of silver is not negated in the knowledge of nacre but only
reality that this is silver is negated with the knowledge that there is no
silver here in the object. 


We will next take the objections also with the background of
Hari Om!Sadananda


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