[Advaita-l] Can a mithyA-vastu produce an effect? असत्यवस्तुनः अर्थक्रियाकारित्वम्

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri May 20 13:05:09 CDT 2011

2011/5/20 Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com>

> Namaste
> But they both are not happening at the same time. First Jnana this is
> silver happens before and second Jnana this is not silver happens at
> later time. The first Jnana is not false because there was experience
> of silver at earlier time. Nobody can say there was no experience
> earlier. The second Jnana will say this is not silver but it cannot
> negate the first experience. It is like this. A man may enjoy a woman
> in dream and  has a climax.  A boy may see a tiger in a dream and wet
> his bed. When he wakes up can he say I know the woman was unreal.
> Nothing happened to me?  The woman was unreal and there was no real
> experience? How can he say nothing happened to him and to his body?
> How can the boy say I saw  unreal tiger and nothing happened to me
> because I know the tiger is unreal. The silver is unreal but both
> Jnanas this is silver and this is not silver are real but not at the
> same time. There is no confusion.

Shankaracharya in the Shatashloki 36 has used the example of an intercourse
with a woman in dream:

The translation of the AnandajnAnchArya commentary on the verse is:

Even though the world has its source in  the sad-asad-vilakshana avidya, it
is experienced as 'sat'.  Everyone experiences the world as 'it is'.  To
prove this Shankara takes the example: In a dream the man is real (in the
sense that the one who dreams thinks that the male is he himself) but the
woman is unreal. [ This is because, even if it is a known, real woman named
X, the man, if he tries to verify upon waking, whether that X did have the
intercourse with him on that dream night, she would definitely deny it (even
granting that she was lying beside him, on his waking bed, when he had the
dream).  But there is no such a doubt about himself as he knows that he did
have an intercourse.]  Yet, with this union between a 'real' male and an
'unreal'  female, there is the proof of a 'rati' in the form of soiled
clothing in the man who is dreaming lying on the bed.  The commentator
concludes:  Thus, Atma, the Purusha, is satya and mAyA, the stree, is
asatya.  Yet, their union called samsara is experienced.  Just as the dream
intercourse is undoubtedly mithyA (because the 'female' part is definitely
mithyA) despite the kArya being seen in the waking in the clothing, samsAra
is mithyA even though it is experienced.

The verse also proves the fact that from unreal union a real samsara is
experienced.  In fact this has a basis in the adhyAsa bhashya itself where
Shankara says the mutual adhyAsa has to be really an impossibility, मिथ्येति
भवितुं युक्तम्.  Yet He continues, तथापि.......नैसर्गिकोऽयं लोकव्यवहारः’.
So, from an unreal, impossible, adhyasa, arises a lokavyavahara that is
experienced by all.

When you say 'the silver is unreal', what is the point in also asserting
that 'there is real silver in a shell?' Maybe the person's thinking that it
is 'silver only' is the error and that is set aside when the truth that it
is after all a shell is known.

> This whole discussion has a purpose of making only real vastu cause
> real effect but unreal vastu cannot cause real effect.

Advaita does not claim that 'no effect takes place from a mithya vastu
darshana'.  'Bhaya kampAdikam after a rope-snake or dream-tiger experience
is admitted.  In fact it does prove the fact that out of an unreal vastu a
real bhaya kampaadikam comes about.  Shankara has said in BSB : 'even
shankAviSha, a suspicion that one has been fed with poisoned food, can
result in death.'  This He has said only at the time of giving instances of
'unreal vastu can cause a real effect.'  There are stories that upon hearing
a false news about the death of a dear one, the hearer faints or even dies.
All these are examples of a mithyA vastu resulting in a real effect.  In
fact there is one thing called 'samvAdi bhrama' where for example, a person,
from a distance, sees the bright light glowing emanating from a costly jewel
but thinks it is an oil lamp.  When he goes near he gets to possess the
jewel itself.  This is a case of a mithyAjnAna resulting in a favourable

> Here the Sribhashya Page 120 has arguments for actually silver-ness in
> a shell.  In Purva Mimamsa they say when Soma plant is not available
> Putika sprouts can be used Somaabhave Putikagrahanam Sruticoditam
> because in Putika there are parts of Soma plant in Putika
> Somavayayavasadbhavaditi Nyayavido Viduhu. Like this there is silver
> in shell. This is known from Sruti only.  Suktadau Rajatadesca Bhavaha
> Srutyaiva Bodhitaha.  There is actual silver in shell. But it is small
> part. There is large part Bhuyastva of shell.

We would like to know which shruti says that.  I have heard that someone
(Dr.Anantha krishna Sastri ?) has retorted:  'We shall give you a cartload
of shell and pl. extract just a few grams of silver from it for us.'

Does the shell-contains-silver logic hold good even to rope-snake error?
Does the rope contain a snake in some subtle form?  Does the mirage contain
any quantity of water?


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