[Advaita-l] FW: Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 31

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Thu Jun 11 09:11:45 CDT 2009

Posting on behalf of Sri Kuntimaddi Sadananda

-----Original Message-----
From: kuntimaddi sadananda [mailto:kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 9:20 PM


We are discussing the Vedanta ParibhASha of Dharmaraja Adhvarindra,
based on my understanding- Continuing the series after a long gap. The
previous posts can be obtained from achieves or from the website -
www.advaita.org.uk. where the numbering system in the website is
slightly different. 

Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 31

In the previous two posts we have reviewed the basic concepts of Navya
Nyaaya that are applied by VedantaparibhAShaa to establish that the
world is mithyaa. Taking the example of silver seen in nacre, and using
the language of Navya Nyaaya, VP says that silver, where nacre is, is
mithyaa.  Mithyaavtam or falisity of silver is established by the
recognition of its counterpositive absence at the locus, nacre.  It is
recognized that silver is absent at any time or at all times, even
though the dominant attribute of silvery-ness perceived through the
senses motivated further action in terms of picking up the object
thinking that there is real silver there. The counterpositive absence of
silver is recognized when the object was examined closely, when along
with the attributive silvery-ness other attributes that are
contradictory to the silver but those belonging to nacre are perceived. 

Several conclusions are in order. First, objective knowledge is only
attributive and not substantive. If it had been substantive also then
senses could have grasped the substantive nacre along with its attribute
of silvery-ness and no error could have been committed. Errors arise
during perception because knowledge is not substantial knowledge.  The
dominant attribute, silvery-ness of the object, alone was perceived and
not the substantive nacre or absentee silver. Therefore theories that
depend on perceptual knowledge as substantial and not just attributive
are incorrect. In fact Upanishad declare that the substantial knowledge
of the world is knowledge of Brahman as Brahman is the substantive of
the world. 

Second, further transaction along with perception of additional
attributes related to nacre established the fact that the object is
nacre and not silver. Thus attributes establishes the knowledge of the
existence of the object, provided the attributes perceived are
sufficiently specific to identify the object without any ambiguity,
while subsequent transaction will establish the transactional reality to
the object or vyaavahaarika satyam.  Without relevant transaction or
vyavahaara, the attributive knowledge of any object will only establish
a possibility of the existence of an object (ex. that the perceived
object may be silver) but not its transactional reality, since silver is
counterpositive absent at the locus it is perceived.   Implication is
that both jnaanedriayas, the sense organs and karmedriyaas, the organs
of action, together are required to establish the transactional reality,
as the word itself indicates.  Without the transactional reality,
 the object perceived could be a subjective reality, or to be more
accurate, praatibhaasika satyam.  Hallucinations also come under the
same category. 

In the perception of an object, there is cognition followed by
recognition. Cognition occurs by sense input that forms the vRitti of
the object (form, color, etc) and recognition occurs by matching from
memory objects with similar attributes. Naming involves knowing. In the
past the object must have been known based on the attributive content,
dominant attribute dominating the perception. In the present example,
the objects that have silvery-ness are normally made of silver has been
established by perception and transaction in the past. That is, the
transactional reality that silver has silvery-ness has been established
in the past. Even though silvery-ness is necessary qualification of the
silver (tarnished silver only means the silver is covered by its oxide
that does not have silvery-ness), the attribute silvery-ness alone is
not sufficient to define the silver. When silver is recognized as
counterpositive absent in the nacre, it is also recognized  that
silveryness is not sufficient qualification to determine that the object
is silver. That proverb that 'all that glitters is not gold' is an
outcome of the same phenomenon. 

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 the action to pick it up.  What
is falsified is the 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 Siddhi. 

We can apply now to the world seen. Whatever 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 when we say
that the 'world is', it means the world exists - just as the
silvery-ness of the object provided the notion of existence of real
silver as silver is there at the locus perceived.   Since the object
exists at the transactional level and therefore world exists at that
level. Hence all the worldly transactions; and samsaara or the resulting
suffering associated with the notion of reality to the world follow.
Scripture says I am not what I think I am, but I am the very substantive
of both the subject, the perceiver, and the object i.e. the perceived
world.  When I realize that I am not 'this that I thought I am' but I am
that Brahman, the substantive of 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 is, it is only attributive
knowledge as in the case of attributive silveryness and there is no
substantive world just as there is no substantive silver in the
attributive silver that I perceived.  Absolutely real is only Brahman
that I am, which is ever present or eternal and never changing and
infinite-existence-consciousness. All perceptions therefore involved
existence expressed in the attributive forms of the objects joining the
consciousness of the subject to establish the consciousness of the
existence of the world. This is the basis of the perceptuality condition
stated earlier. Hence, in the very introduction to perceptual knowledge
we pointed out the following: "....Dharmaraja Advarindra makes a
revealing statement that baffles the intellect. 'Pratyaksha pramaa ca
atra  caitanyam eva' - atra, meaning in the direct perceptual knowledge,
what is really revealed as the knowledge is the pure consciousness
itself. (He used the word 'eva', meaning consciousness alone).  We may
need to meditate on the statement to understand the significance, but
what the statement says is direct and immediate perceptual knowledge is
the Brahman- Actually we see that there is really no need to meditate
since meditation is mediate and not immediate.  This is a daring
statement since Brahman cannot be perceived, yet he says what is
perceived is Brahman." - Just as what is perceived is actually nacre but
it is mistaken as silver since one gets carried way by the cognized
attributive content of the object perceived i.e. such as silveryness
rather than nacre-ness in our example. Similarly, when we perceive the
world, we are getting carried away by the attributive content of the
objective world and not the substantive content, which is  Brahman;
although the existence of the world is perceived by being conscious of
the existence of the world. Thus perceptions really reveal the existence
in the form of the objects and the consciousness in the form of subject,
as both fundamental sat chit aspect of Brahman, justifying the
introductory statement of DA. Thus the perceptuality condition
establishes the Vedic statement - sarvam khalvidam brahma - all this
(perceived) is indeed Brahman. 

The false world that is seen is falsified or recognized as false in the
realization of Brahman. Falsity of the world is established only with
the realization of the reality of the world and its perception, namely
it is existence and consciousness combined in the perceptuality
condition. 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 it is nacre, the perceptual objective world remains with the
attributive content while one recognizes the substantive sat-chit nature
of the world in all perceptions. Thus mithyaa attribute of silver
remains without assigning substantive reality to the silver. It is also
understood that there the absence of silver is counterpositive absolute
absence at all times 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 nacre, now or

With this we have completed the discussion of perception as the pramANa.

Hari Om!

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list