[Advaita-l] अनिर्वचनीयख्यातिः (सदसद्विलक्षणत्वम्) in the श्रीमद्भागवतम् Part 1 (2)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Mar 12 04:37:45 CST 2011

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः

अनिर्वचनीयख्यातिः (सदसद्विलक्षणत्वम्) in the श्रीमद्भागवतम्
‘anirvachanIyakhyAtiH’ (sadasad-vilakShaNatvam) in the srImadbhAgavatam

In Advaita VedAnta the object superimposed is explained as
'sad-asad-vilakShaNam' - something that is distinct from both existent and
non-existent.  To elucidate this, this maxim is stated: सत् चेत् न बाध्येत,
असत् चेत् न प्रतीयेत (if it is absolutely existent, it would not get
sublated upon the knowing of the substratum.  On the other hand, if it is
non-existent, like a hare's horn, it would not have become an object of
experience, knowing.) Such a thing is called 'mithyA'.  One cannot say,
describe, account for, explain, such an 'object'; it is अनिर्वचनीयः. On the
analogy of the snake superimposed on a rope the Advaitin holds that the
entire universe is of such a category; neither falling under 'sat' nor under

In the srImadbhAgavatam (uddhavagItaa) we have a fine instance of this
phenomenon.  In the following verse (11.23.50) -

देहं *मनोमात्रमिमं** *गृहीत्वा ममाहमित्यन्धधियो मनुष्याः |

एषोऽहमन्योऽयमिति भ्रमेण दुरन्तपारे तमसि भ्रमन्ति ||

//Foolish men, coming to look upon the body, which is but a phantasm of the
mind, as 'I' and 'mine' and thinking erroneously, 'This am I but this other
man is different', wander in a limitless wilderness of ignorance.//

the word 'देहं मनोमात्रमिमं ' is what conveys the concept of
'anirvachanIyatvam'.  Something that is only in the imagination and not
available as an existent entity upon enquiry, and at the same time available
for experience unlike a hare's horn or a sky-flower, is what is termed
'manomAtram', a phantasm of the mind.

In the following verse too of the BhAgavatam (UddhavagItaa 17.55) -
अर्थे हि अविद्यमाने अपि संसृतिः न निवर्तते।
ध्यायतः विषयान् अस्य स्वप्ने अनर्थ आगमः यथा॥५५॥

//Even though the sense-world (of objects/subject and perceiving) is unreal,
अविद्यमाने अपि, the relative existence of a man who dwells on sense-objects
is never at an end, as troubles come in dreams. (Since dreams are admitted
to be effects of the impressions of the waking state.)//

the word अविद्यमानेऽपि  with regard to the objects is teaching the
'anirvachanIyatvam'.  For, though the objects are 'not there in reality',
they are experienced.  'mithyAtvam' is defined (also) as 'a phenomenon which
appears in a locus where it does not belong in all the three periods of
time'.  The word अर्थ: 'object' signifies the entire dRshya prapancha, the
observed, experienced, world.  These cannot be regarded as 'asat',
non-existent, for, they are experienced (असत् चेत् न प्रतीयेत). Can they be
held to be absolutely existent, 'sat'? No, for their sublation is also
taught by the bhAgavatam itself (सत् चेत् न बाध्येत):

आत्मानमेव आत्मतया अविजानतां
तेनैव जातं निखिलं प्रपञ्चितम् ।
*ज्ञानेन** **भूयोऽपि** **च** **तत्प्रलीयते**
*रज्ज्वां अहेर्भोगभवाभवौ यथा ।। 10.14.25

ātmānam <http://vedabase.net/a/atmanam> evātmatayāvijānatāḿ

tenaiva jātaḿ <http://vedabase.net/j/jatam>
prapañcitam <http://vedabase.net/p/prapancitam>

jñānena <http://vedabase.net/j/jnanena> bhūyo 'pi ca<http://vedabase.net/c/ca>
tat <http://vedabase.net/t/tat> pralīyate <http://vedabase.net/p/praliyate>

rajjvām <http://vedabase.net/r/rajjvam> aher
yathā <http://vedabase.net/y/yatha>

// A person who mistakes a rope for a snake becomes fearful, but he then
gives up his fear upon realizing that the so-called snake does not exist.
Similarly, for those who fail to recognize You as the Supreme Soul of all
souls, the expansive illusory material existence arises, but knowledge
(realization) of You (Your True Nature) at once causes it (the variegated
world of plurality) to *subside.*//
Thus, according to the BhAgavatam, the 'prapancha' that includes the
individual, body, the 'others' be they objects or other people, entities,
all belong to the category of 'अनिर्वचनीयः’ being सदसद्विलक्षणम्.

(To be continued and concluded in Part 2)

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