[Advaita-l] Some questions on 'khyAti vAda-s' - Theories of/on Error

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Apr 17 13:07:56 CDT 2010

Namaste Anand ji,

Thank you for a brief and informative presentation.

This position of the Madhva system:

//JayatIrtha clarifies, in his PramANa paddhati, that  what is meant is
atyanta asat, a completely false entity , "atyanta-asadrajatAtmanA
pratibhAtItyAchAryAH" . //

and the refuting reason given by the BhAShyaratnaprabha:

 // If it is shUnya or void or asat (as claimed by the mAdhyamika school or
the mAdhva school), then it is not possible for it (silver) to be perceived.

seems reasonable.  How can one 'recognize' or 'cognize' even in a
bhrama-sthala an atyanta asat (vandhyAputra, hare's horn, etc) ?  For, to
recognize something now, I must have seen it before and have formed a smriti
in me.  But with reference to such atyanta asat vastu-s, we have not seen
them in our non-bhrama states and therefore no smriti of such a thing is
available in our mind.  Such being the case, how is it possible to get the
cognition: 'this is that?' about a shUnya, atyanta asat padArtha? . I can
see a (false) man in a distant pillar, but I can never see a vandhyaputra in
that pillar as  adhyasta.  I cannot even imagine, in a manoratha, a
vandhyAputra playing cricket with me.  The moment I visualize a boy of 18,
tall, dressed in whites, etc. I am imagining only a normal man, not a
vandhyAputra.  It is impossible to have any kalpana with regard to an
atyanta asat vastu.

Best regards,

On Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 9:30 PM, Anand Hudli <anandhudli at hotmail.com> wrote:

> V Subrahmanian wrote:
> >AtmakhyAti - YogAchAra Bauddha (VijnAnavaada)
> >
> >asatkhyAti - MAdhyamika Bauddha (shUnyavAda)
> >
> >akhyAti - PrAbhAkara mImAmsA
> >
> >anyathAkhyAti - NyAya, Vaisheshika and BhATTa mImAmsA
> >
> >and anirvachaneeya khyAti - Vedantins (Advaita)
> >
> >to describe the phenomenon of error, adhyAsa.  The adhyAsa bhAshya
> contains
> >a reference to some or all of these vAda-s.
> Here are my notes on this topic. I have tried to explore the common ground
> among
> different khyAti vAdas and shown that anirvachanIya khyAti is the most
> suitable of
> them.
> There are a few others that one can add to the list:
> sadasatkhyAti of sAMkhya, satkhyAti of the vishiShTAdvaita, and
> abhinava-anyathAkhyAti
> of dvaita.
> Each school has its own theory about illusion, for example, the
> shukti-rajata, the illusion
> of silver in nacre or rope as snake. A nacre is mistaken for a piece of
> silver. A rope is
> mistaken for a snake. Shankara says regarding adhyAsa, "atasmin.h
> tadbuddhiH", cognition
> of one thing as another. This is the common ground among all schools, as
> far as illusion
> (bhrama) is concerned. If A is mistaken for B, where A is the substratum
> and B is the
> illusory object superimposed on A, then we have the following
> possibilities:
> 1) both A and B are unreal, 2) A is real, but B is unreal, 3) both A and B
> are real,
> 4) A is real, but B cannot be defined as real or unreal or both, 5) A is
> real, but B is both
> real and unreal. Here "real" is sat and "unreal" asat.
> In the asatkhyAti of mAdhyamikas, both the substratum of the error or
> illusion and
> the object of illusion are unreal (asat). The YogAchAra school holds that
> both the
> substratum (nacre) and the illusory object (silver) do not exist apart from
> their
> subjective cognitions, i.e., they are ideas in the mind. This is called
> AtmakhyAti.
> In early sAMkhya, for example, as expounded by Ishvarakrishna, there is no
> theory of
> perceptual error. Later contributors such as Aniruddha and VijnAnabhikShu
> put forth the
> theory of sadasatkhyAti. Aniruddha explains the silver-nacre illusion in
> his
>  sAMkhyasUtravritti -
> इदं रजतमिति पुरोवर्तिविषयतया सत् अबाधनात्, रजतविषयतया तु असत् बाधात्,
> तस्मात् सदसतो तत्त्वम् ।
> In the cognition, "this is silver", the thing before (the observer),
> the "this", is real (sat) because it is never sublated, (even after the
> illusion ends).
> The silver is false (asat), because it is sublated. Therefore, illusion or
> erroneous perception is the cognition of  both the sat and the asat.
> The PrabhAkara school of mImAMsA says there is non-apprehension (hence the
> name, akhyAti) of the distinction between the illusory object (silver) and
> the
> substratum (nacre).  Hence the illusion.
> शुक्तेश्चक्षुषा ग्रहणं रजतस्य च स्वातन्त्र्येण स्मरणं, "इदं न रजतं" इति
> भेदग्रह्स्याभावश्च
> त्रितयं कारणम् । The apprehension of nacre with the eye, the independent
> recollection of
> silver, and the absence of apprehension of the form "This is not silver" to
> differentiate
> (the thing in front from silver), - these three are jointly the causes.
> The nyAya school puts forth the theory of anyathAkhyAti. Here, the silver
> that was
> perceived at some other place at some other time is now perceived in nacre.
> This is
> made possible by something called a jnAna-lakShaNa-sannikarSha. Both the
> silver
> and nacre are real, but the silver that is being perceived was actually
> perceived at
> some other place at some other time. "sarvathA .asatve
> pratItyanupapattestatraiva
> sattve vA bAdhAnupapattiriti" - If the silver were completely false, it
> would not have
> appeared (before the observer). If it were present right in the place where
> it was
> perceived, there would be no sublation (of such a perception).
> The mAdhva theory of abhinava anyathAkhyAti says that the silver is false
> and the
> post-illusion experience "the false silver appeared" shows this. Unlike the
> naiyAyikas,
> the mAdhvas hold that silver, the illusory object, never occurs anywhere at
> any time.
> Cognition of a false (nonexistent) object in a substratum (adhiShThAna) is
> admitted in
> this system. Madhva holds that one cannot deny that a false object can be
> cognized
> even in illusion.
> न च असतो भ्रान्तावपि प्रतीतिर्नास्तीति वाच्यम् -विष्णुतत्त्वविनिर्णयः
> In fact, he explicitly denies what is cognized in an illusion is
> anirvachanIya, as the
> advaitins claim, and goes on to say that what is cognized in the illusion
> is asat.
> JayatIrtha clarifies, in his PramANa paddhati, that  what is meant is
> atyanta asat, a
> completely false entity , "atyanta-asadrajatAtmanA pratibhAtItyAchAryAH" .
> The following from the
>  विष्णुतत्त्वविनिर्णय of Madhva makes the definition of illusion or bhrama
> clear:
> असतः सत्त्वप्रतीतिः सतोऽसत्त्वप्रतीतिरित्यन्यथाप्रतीतिरेव भ्रान्तित्वात् ।
> The cognition of a
> nonexistent (false) entity as existing and an existing entity as
> nonexistent is called bhrama or illusion. This kind of cognizing one thing
> as another is illusion.
> The Kannada commentary by Shri Vishvesha Tirtha, Mathadhisha of the Pejawar
> Math clarifies this further:
> ಅಲ್ಲಿ ನಮಗೆ ತೋರಿದ ಬೆಳ್ಳಿ ಎಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ತೋರದೇ ಇರುವುದುರಿಂದ ಅದು ಅಸತ್ಯವೆಂಬುದರಲ್ಲಿ
> ಸಂದೇಹವೇ ಇಲ್ಲ.
> ಆದರೂ ಭ್ರಮೆಯ ಸ್ಥಿತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಮಗೆ ಅದು ತೋರುತ್ತದೆ.
> The vishiShTAdvaita theory of satkhyAti is also called yathArthakhyAti.
> According to
> this theory, all perceptual knowledge, whether it be of an illusion or
> otherwise, is
> valid. "satkhyAtirnAma jnAnaviShayasya satyatvam.h." This is the theory of
> satkhyAti
> which holds that the content (object) of a cognition is real. It recognizes
> bhrama or
> illusion only by virtue of the fact that there can be no meaningful
> activity with regard
> to the "illusory" object. The silver that is perceived in nacre is real but
> it cannot be part
> of any activity, such as picking it up. Therefore, the silver is bhrama.
> viShayavyavahArabAdhAt.h bhramatvam.h. How can silver possibly be really
> present
> in nacre? पञ्चीकरणप्रक्रियया पृथिव्यादिषु सर्वत्र सर्वभूतानां
> विद्यमानत्वात् । अत एव शुक्तिकादौ रजतांशस्य
> विद्यमानत्वात् ज्ञानविषयस्य सत्यत्वम् । By the process of panchIkaraNa,
> every element occurs in every element such as the earth. Therefore, the
> cognition of silver in nacre is true, since there is a (small) portion of
> silver (actually) in the nacre. If the silver in nacre is real, then it
> cannot be called illusory silver but real silver! However, this real silver
> occurs in a such a small quantity as to be practically of no use. तत्र
> रजतांशस्य स्वल्पत्वात् तत्र न व्यवहार इति तत् ज्ञानं
> भ्रमः । Because, the amount of silver (in nacre) is very small
> (infinitesimal) there cannot be any activity involving it.The theory of
> satkhyAti has its basis in
> the shrI-bhAShya statement by Ramanuja - "yathArthaM sarvavijnAnamiti
> vedavidAM
> matam.h"
> Finally, the advaita theory of anirvachanIyakhyAt holds that the illusory
> object, silver,
> cannot be categorized as sat or asat or both sat and asat. It cannot be
> sat, because
> it is sublated upon perceiving the substratum as it is. It cannot be asat,
> because it
> was perceived as existing during the illusion phase. An asat entity cannot
> be perceived
> even in an illusion. GauDapAdAchArya says (mANDUkya kArikA  3.28):
> असतो मायया जन्म तत्त्वतो नैव युज्यते ।
> वन्ध्यापुत्रो न तत्त्वेन मायया वाऽपि जायते ॥
> There can be no birth of a purely nonexistent thing either through mAyA or
> in reality.
> A barren-woman's son cannot be born either through mAyA or in reality.
> Therefore, by implication, the thing that is illusory and superimposed,
> e.g. a snake
>  on a substratum, e.g. a rope, cannot be asat or nonexistent, because a
> nonexistent
> thing is never cognized as occurring in a substratum. If it is not asat,
> then can it be
> sat? It cannot be sat as explained above. Therefore, it must be different
> from both sat
> and asat, i.e. anirvachanIya or something that cannot be described.
> This anirvachanIyatva concept is derived from Shankara's statement in the
> adhyAsa
> bhAShya, considering all views on adhyAsa (superimposition): "सर्वथापि
> त्वन्यस्यान्यधर्मावभासतां
> न व्यभिचरति".  Among all these views, what is common is the appearance of
> attributes of
> one thing in another. For example, nacre appears to have attributes of
> silver. A rope
> appears to have attributes of a snake.
> The bhAShyaratnaprabhA explains:
> एतेषु मतेषु परत्र परावभासत्वलक्षणसंवादमाह - सर्वथापि त्विति ।
> अन्यथाख्यातित्वादिप्रकारविवादेऽप्यध्यासः परत्र परावभासत्वलक्षणं न
> जहातीत्यर्थः ।
> शुक्तावपरोक्षस्य रजतस्य देशान्तरे बुद्धौ वा सत्त्वायोगात्, शून्यत्वे
> प्रत्यक्षत्वायोगात् ,
> शुक्तौ सत्त्वे बाधायोगात् मिथ्यात्वमेवेति भावः ।
> In all these views (of adhyAsa, illusion), the common characteristic is the
> appearance
> of one thing in the place of another thing. This is indicated in the
> bhAShya as "in all
> ways". Even the khyAti vAda's of other schools, such as anyathAkhyAti of
> nyAya, the
> characteristic of one thing appearing in the place of another is never
> given up. (However,
> the khyAti vAda's of other schools are defective.) In the illusion of
> silver in nacre,
> the silver is directly perceived in nacre and therefore it is not a
> suitable explanation to say
> that the silver was perceived in another place or it exists only as a
> (subjective) cognition
> or only in memory. (This refutes the theories of anyathAkhyAti of nyAya,
> the AtmakhyAti
> of YogAchAra, and the akhyAti of prAbhAkara mImAMsA.)
> If it is shUnya or void or asat (as claimed by the mAdhyamika school or the
> mAdhva
> school), then it is not possible for it (silver) to be perceived. If the
> silver really exists in
> nacre (as claimed by the satkhyAti of the vishiShTAdvaitins), then its
> sublation is not
> possible (when the illusion ends). (Also, it cannot be sadasat, as claimed
> by the
> sAMkhya school because that would be a contradiction.) (Since the khyAti
> vAda's of
> other schools are refuted), what remains as the correct khyAti vAda is that
> of
> mithyAtva or anirvachanIyatva.
> Anand
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