[Advaita-l] abhinava anyathAkhyAti - 1(was: Some questions on 'khyAti vAda-s' - Theories of/on Error)

Anand Hudli ahudli at gmail.com
Thu Apr 22 23:29:30 CDT 2010

My last post on this subject seemed incomplete, since I ended it by saying
that more
details on the abhinava anyathA khyAti of the mAdhva school are to be found
in the
nyAyasudhA. Here is what I could find out from a few sources, with my

First of all, there is a fundamental difference in the very definition of
Reality in the two
schools - advaita and dvaita. In advaita, what is sat or real is defined by
in his famous PanchadashI as satyatvaM bAdharaAhityam.h which means that
truth is
that which  is not contradicted or sublated (at any time).

The main difference between the advaita definition and the dvaita definition
is as follows.
When we say something is not contradicted, we can ask the question: "Until
what time
is it not contradicted?" The definition of noncontradictedness is the main
between  the advaita and dvaita definitions. According to advaita,
means "not contradicted at any time." If some X is contradicted at some time
or the
other then it is not real, not sat. This does not automatically make X false
or asat!
X is real (sat) only if it is not contradicted at any time. If X never
exists, i.e., it is a purely
fictitious entity such as a hare's horn, it is called asat or unreal. If
X is cognized in a subtsratum
but is contradicted by sublating knowledge, for example, as in the caseof
an object of illusion
(snake) being sublated when the illusion terminates (awareness of the object
as a rope, not
snake), it is called anirvachanIya to indicate that it cannot be categorized
as sat or asat.

 Let us look at what the dvaitins mean by reality. Vyasatirtha says in his
   "त्रिकालसर्वदेशीयनिषेधाप्रतियोगिता सत्तोऽच्यते", meaning
   "not being the counter correlate (pratiyogin) of negation with respect to
    three periods of time and space is reality."  This is a technical
definition using nyAya
terminology. What it means in simpler terms is that if something exists in
*at least* one
of the three periods of time, past, present and future, then it is regarded
as real.
For example, a pot that exists now but is destroyed  later is regarded as
real. The
mAdhva says a thing may be real without being eternal. Temporarily existing
are to be considered real but not eternal.

What is also important is the remaining part of the above definition:
अध्यस्ततुच्छे तु तं प्रति प्रतियोगिनी । The superimposed and nonexistent
are counter correlates to such negation (niShedha) and therefore are unreal
or asat.
This means, in simple terms, what is superimposed or a fictitious entity
(chimera) is
absent in all three periods of time and at all places. A superimposed entity
is an
illusory object superimposed on a real object called adhiShThAna or
An example of a superimposed entity is silver superimposed on nacre or a
superimposed on rope. An example of a fictitious entity is a hare's horn or
man's horn,
something that is never known to exist. Both superimposed and purely
fictitious entities
belong the category of asat, unreality. Everything else is considered real
or sat!

Next, let us look at how the dvaitins come up with their theory of abhinava
khyAti by taking essential aspects from the asatkhyAti of the mAdhyamika
and the naiyAyika theory of anyathA khyAti. Says BNK Sharma, one of the
dvaita scholars:
"A careful examination of the various theories of error held by different
schools of Indian
philosophy shows that the ideas of asatkhyati and anyathakhyati constitute
greatest common measure of agreement. Madhva's theory of
combines these two elements of the theories of illusion in right proportions
and formulates
a balanced theory of error." - Philosophy of Madhvacharya, page 196.

As I had explained in my earlier note, abhinava anyathAkhyAti holds that the
object (silver) is completely and utterly nonexistent, reminiscent of the
theory. But the mAdhvas are quick to point out that their theory differs
from the mAdhyamika
position in that the substratum of illusion (nacre), is considered to be
The mAdhvas also introduce a new concept, i.e. that of a similar entity,
sadrisha, that
is a real entity, as explained below. What is to be noted is that unreality
is now of *two*
types - adhyasta or superimposed, and tuchchha or fictitious.

An example of the adhyasta type is the silver that is superimposed on nacre
during an
illusion or a snake that is superimposed on a piece of rope. An example of
the tuchchha
entity is, of course, a hare's horn (shashashringa), a chimera that never
exists. It is
important to note, right at the outset that according to Vyasatirtha's
definition, there
are *two* types of unreality (falsity),  namely the adhyasta and the
tuchchha (alIka).
So neither a superimposed object such as silver on nacre nor a hare's
horn exist at any
time at any place. They are both considered as asat.

One may ask: If both the adhyasta and tuchchha are asat, then what is the
between the two? The adhyasta, silver, differs from the tuchchha, a hare's
horn, in
at least two respects. First, the adhyasta silver is cognized in a real
substratum, nacre,
which is the adhiShThAna. Second, the adhyasta, silver corresponds to a
similar entity
called the sadrisha (सदृश) that is real. In fact, the ViShNutattvavinirNaya
अधिष्ठानं च सदृशं सत्यवस्तुद्वयं विना ।
न भ्रान्तिर्भवति क्वापि स्वप्नमायादिकेष्वपि ॥
Without the substratum and the similar entity (prototype), which are real,
there can be
no illusion (bhrAnti) anywhere, even in dreams and magical creations. What
is this
entity sadrisha? If silver is the superimposed object, then there has to be
a real piece
of silver that corresponds to the superimposed silver. This real piece of
silver that is
similar (sadrisha) to or prototype for the nonexistent silver is admitted as
i.e . seen earlier. The sadrisha rajata is not cognized in the real
substratum, but the totally
nonexistent silver is cognized, due to defects in the sense organ. This
sadrisha is the link
between the naiyAyikas' anyathAkhyAti and the mAdhvas' abhinava

 Even the naiyAyika, the logician, contends that in the silver-nacre
illusion, the silver
is real and seen elsewhere and at some other time. And the naiyAyika insists
that during
the illusion, that same real silver that was seen elsewhere and at some time
is now
erroneously cognized due to something called the alaukika-sannikarSha, the
contact between the sensory organ and the object, silver. The mAdhva 1)
agrees with the
naiyAyika to the extent that the silver in the illusion must correspond to a
really existing
object, 2) but parts company with the naiyAyika when it is also asserted it
is that
*very same* piece of silver that is cognized in the illusion. The mAdhva
says, the illusory
silver corresponds to a really existing object (sadrisha) or prototype that
is similar to the
illusory object, but the illusory object is completely asat (atyanta asat).
In short, the
illusory object is not the same as the prototype or similar object
(sadrisha). And this
illusory object is cognized in the real substratum, the adhiShThAna.

The description of illusion (bhrama) according to JayatIrtha is :
शुक्तिकासंनिकृष्टं दुष्टमिन्द्रियं तामेवात्यन्तासद्रजतात्मना अवगाहमानं
ज्ञानं जायते, स भ्रम इत्यङ्गीकारात् ।
   - न्यायसुधा
Due to the defective organ (eye) that is in contact with the nacre
(shuktikA), a
cognition of that same nacre as completely nonexistent silver is produced.
This is
accepted as bhrama or illusion.

JayatIrtha is critical of the nyAya view:

अत्र प्रतीतस्यैवान्यत्र सत्त्वे मानाभावात् । असत्त्वे कथं प्रतीतिरिति चेत्?

अन्यत्र सत्त्वेऽपि कथम् ? न ह्यन्यत्र सत्त्वम् अत्र प्रतीतेरुपकारि? -
There are no grounds for accepting that what is cognized (silver) is present
(You may ask:) If it (silver) is not present (elsewhere), then how is
cognition possible?
(We ask:) Even if it is present (elsewhere), how is cognition possible?
Here, the
(postulation) that it (silver) occurs elsewhere is certainly not going to
help the cognition!
In arguing against the nyAya theory that the silver cognized in an illusion
is the
same silver that was seen earlier, JayatIrtha says:
इन्द्रियार्थसन्निकर्षार्थं वा तदास्थेयं संस्कारसिद्ध्यर्थं वा ? नाद्यः ।
रजतान्तरानुभवमात्रेण भवतीति व्यर्था तस्यैवान्यत्रकल्पना । - न्यायसुधा
Is the contact with the sense organ (with the real silver seen elsewhere and
at some other
time) required to establish that (the real silver) is present (at the time
of the illusion) or
to merely for a mental impression (saMskAra) of silver? The first is not
possible. If it is
for generating a mental impression, then the mere fact of previous
experience of (real)
silver is sufficient. It is not of any use to think that the *same* piece of
silver is
cognized (in the illusion).

Instead of taking the naiyAyika approach of requiring the cognition of the
real silver
seen elsewhere at some other time, the mAdhva takes the approach of
requiring 1) a
prototype or similar object (sadrisha), a previously seen object, that helps
2) the utterly
nonexistent silver (atyanta asat) appear 3) in a real substratum
(adhiShThAna), the
nacre. This theory is called abhinava anyathA khyAti, the new or novel
theory of anyathAkhyAti,
(वक्ष्यामो ह्यभिनवान्यथाख्यातिम् - न्यायसुधा).

The mAdhvas have criticized the advaitins' use of the anirvachanIya category
that is said to be
different from sat and asat. However, in formulating the theory of abhinava
anyathA khyAti, the
mAdhvas themselves have divided the category of asat or nonexistence into
two, namely the
 adhyasta asat consisting of superimposed objects and the tuchchha asat
consisting of purely
fictitious entities. Further, the adhyasta asat category is similar, at
least in some respects, to
the advaitins' anirvachanIya category.

A comparison of the two concepts will be taken up in the next part.

(To be continued)


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