[Advaita-l] adhyAropa - apavAda in the Prashnopanishat

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Mar 28 07:24:41 CDT 2013

On Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 3:49 PM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>wrote:

> In the sixth chapter of the Prashnopanishat the first mantra is about
> 'where does the entity with 16 kalA-s reside?'  The second mantra is in
> reply: 'Here alone, in this body, does the puruSha (with 16 kalA-s)
> resides. The third mantra is about:
> 3     The Purusha reflected: "What is it by whose departure I shall depart
> and by whose staying I shall stay?"
> This mantra comes to specify(1)  that the sixteen kalA-s (parts) are
> created by a sentient being, the Purusha and (2) the order, krama, in which
> the 16 are created.
> 4     He created prana; from prana faith, space, air, fire, water, earth,
> the organs, mind, food; from food virility, austerity, the Vedic hymns,
> sacrifice, the worlds; and in the worlds He created names.
> Here the sixteen parts/components are enumerated:
> He created prana (1); from prana faith (shraddhA (2) , space, air, fire,
> water, earth, (five elements: 5+2=7) the organs (all sense/motor organs
> 10 put together 1 (8), mind (9), food (annam 10); from food virility (vIryam
> 11), austerity (tapas 12), the Vedic hymns (mantra 13), sacrifice (karma
> 14), the (worlds 15); and in the worlds He created names (nAma 16).
> Having said that the PuruSha 'creates' these sixteen kalA-s, the upanishad
> says in the very next mantra:
>  5     As these flowing rivers, bound for the ocean, disappear into the
> ocean after having reached it, *their names and forms being destroyed and
> are called simply the ocean*—*even so, these sixteen parts of the seer,
> whose goal is the Purusha, disappear into the Purusha after having reached
> Him, their names and forms being destroyed and are called simply the
> Purusha. He becomes free of parts and immorta*l. On this there is the
> following verse.

It would be useful to know why at all the Upanishad should resort to the
method of adhyAropa - apavAda.   Shankara says in the BhAShyam for the
mantra 6.2 herein:

//ihaiva antaHsahrIre hRdayapuNDarIka-AkAshamadhye hey somya sa puruSho na
deshAntare vijneyao yasmin (Purushe) etAH uchyamAnAH ShoDaSha kalAH
prANAdyAH prANAdyAH prabhavanti utpadyanta  iti ShoDaShakalAbhiH
upAdhibhUtAbhiH sakala iva niShkalaH puruSho lakShyate avidyayA iti
tadupAdhikalAdhyAropApanayena vidyayA sa puruShaH kevalo darshayitavya iti
kalAnAm tatprabhavatvamucyate | prANAdInAm atyanta nirvisheShe hyadvaye
shuddhe tattve na shakyo adhyAropamantareNa
pratipAdyapratipAdanAdi-vyavahAraH kartumiti kalAnAm prabhava-sthiti-apyayA
Aropyante avidyAviShayAH. chaitanyAvyatirekeNaiva hi kalA jAyamAnAH
tiShThantyaH pralIyamANAshcha sarvadA lakShyante.//

The translation of the above, from the book of Swami Gambhirananda:

//Here itself, inside the body, within the space inside the lotus of the
heart, O amiable one, that PuruSha exists and He is not to be sought
somewhere else, in whom originate these sixteen parts: prANa and the rest
that are being enumerated.  The Purusha who is partless appears through
ignorance to be possessed of limbs as a consequence of His association with
the sixteen parts that are His limiting adjuncts.  But this PuruSha has to
be shown as an absolute entity by eliminating, through knowledge, those
parts that condition Him.  That is why the parts are spoken of as
originating from the PuruSha.  Since no empirical pronouncement as to
attainability and the means of attainment can be made unless there be the
superimposition of prANa and the rest on the totally attributeless,
non-dual, pure principle, therefore, the origin, existence, and absorption
of the pats that are within the domain of ignorance, are superimposed (on
the PuruSha), for the parts are always seen to exist in identity with
Consciousness at the times of origin, continuation, and dissolution.//

The salient features of the above bhashyam are:

1. The Supreme Being, Brahman, called Purusha, is taught to be realized
within our body and not elsewhere.  This is a common feature of all
2. Since that Being is free of all attributes, it would be impossible to
teach us the 'nature' Its nature.
3. Therefore, with a view to 'identify' It, the upAdhi-s are to be
'attributed' to It.
4. When the upadhis are attributed to It, it is possible for us to know
that such an Entity exists.  Otherwise even Its existence is either denied
or doubted.
5. Once the existence is admitted, it becomes necessary, and easy, to deny,
negate, remove, through knowledge/intellect, those superimposed upAdhis.
6. It would, however, be impossible for anyone, to deny/negate the
Existence, which is none other than one's own Existence, nay, oneself.
7. We have, through the words of GaudapAda, too, heard that the statements
in the Upanishads as to the creation of the universe along with the
examples of fire, clay, gold, etc. are only means, a tactic, upAya, for the
enabling of understanding/realizing the One Conscousness Principle.
8.  Here too, in this Upanishad, as in the MAnDUkya, the various (sixteen)
parts/components (three states in the mAnDUkya) are taught by the Upanishad
itself as being produced/available and later denied/negated in order to
hold out the undeniable Atman/Brahman/turIya.
9.  Thus it is a pattern across the Upanishads to specify the
parts/states/the entire created world as coming from/originating from the
Supreme and denying them/apavAda while teaching the realization part.

10. The creation, sustenance and dissolution of parts or the whole
universe, is shown always in association with the Supreme Consciousness
Principle, where the created, etc. is insentient.

11. There is a depended upon and a dependent relationship between the
Consciousness and the created.

12. While the depended upon, is svatantra, the dependent is paratantra.

13. Just as the clay products cannot /do not originate, exist and dissolve
independent of clay, the paratantra cannot originate, exist and dissolve
without the svatantra as its basis.

14.  The ONLY example for such a situation is the rope-snake.  The
superimposed snake cannot originate without the rope being there a priori.
It cannot exist, as long as the error, bhrama, persists, without the rope
being there.  Of, course, for this snake to go away, disappear, the rope
knowledge/support is essential.  We can't say, at any point of time, that
two objects exist here: the rope and the snake. At all points of time, only
one object can be counted and that is the rope.  The snake cannot be
counted as a second entity at any point of time.

15. Thus, it is quite logical for the Upanishad to adopt the method of
adhyAropa and apavAda since what is superimposed and negated is after all
the insubstantial; the only substance being the Atman. The goal of the
Upanishads is not to enable us realize the created universe but only to
help us realize the Creator Principle.  No Upanishad teaches that there is
freedom from samsara by knowing the created universe.  In fact the
kshetram, the knowable, is taught to be differentiated from the Kshetrajna,
the Knower, so that the kShetrajna is realized for mokSha.


// A king had 17 elephants. Then the king died. He had three sons.
According to his will, the first son was entitled to one-half of the number
of elephants, the second to one-third, and the third to one-ninth. The size
of the share couldn't be changed. As 17 is an odd number, and difficult to
share among the three, they were unable to find a solution to the
challenge. Fortunately for them, a wise man was passing through their
country. He was an old friend of their father's as well. The young men
described their predicament and asked for his help. The wise man asked them
not to worry and set about solving the problem immediately.

He added his elephant to the 17 elephants; they were now 18. He separated 9
elephants or one-half of 18, and gave them to the first son. The second son
was given six elephants or one-third of 18. Lastly, the third son was given
two elephants, two being one ninth of 18. The total number of elephants
given away was 17 (9+6+2). The eighteenth elephant left was that of the
wise man who took his elephant back and left, with everybody happy and
satisfied. The last elephant is like maya: it came to solve a problem, and
having solved it, it removes itself from the scene, leaving no trace of its
previous presence.//

That is the purpose/method of the adhyAropa - apavAda in Vedanta.

Om Tat Sat


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