[Advaita-l] Dvaita Vaada - Vadiraja Teertha's Nyayaratnavali Slokas 231-242 Law of Karma Part 1

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sat May 30 11:20:05 CDT 2015

श्रीत्रिविक्रमाय नमः॥
This is one of the enigmas posed by those who have not fully understood the
upanishad-based philosophy of advaita. If Brahman cannot be tainted by
karma and its results and if jIva is a mere reflection of Brahman in an
inert antaHkaraNa, then who is the kartA and who is the bhoktA? It sounds,
not suprisingly, similar to another enigma - Whose is this avidya? In a
sense, these questions are not valid questions, since notions of kartRtva
and bhoktRtva arise from avidyA and nothing else. And avidyA itself is not
ultimately real! However, from a vyAvahArika point of view, advaitins have
provided answers that can be justified within the framework established by
the prasthAnatraya.
What exactly is a jIva? This question finds various answers among
advaitins, but to be consistent with the vivaraNa school which accepts the
pratibimba theory, we accept here the definition provided in PanchadashI
चैतन्यं यदधिष्ठानं लिङ्गदेहश्च यः पुनः।
चिच्छाया लिङगदेहस्था तत्सङ्घो जीव उच्यते॥
(Based on the commentary of Ramakrishna) jIva is a collection of three
things- Consciousness which is the substratum, the subtle body (linga
sharIra or sUkShma sharIra) which is imagined in Consciousness, and the
reflection of Consciousness in the subtle body, chidAbhAsa.
Further, the subtle body itself has seventeen components, PanchadashI 1.23
बुद्धिकर्मेन्द्रियप्राणपञ्चकैर्मनसा धिया।
शरीरं सप्तदशभिः सूक्ष्मं तल्लिङ्गमुच्यते॥
The subtle body, sUkShmasharIra, also known as the linga sharIra, consists
of seventeen components- the five sense organs, (jnAnendriyas), the five
organs of action (karmendriyas), the five vital airs (prANas), the mind,
and the intellect.

It is clear that the jIva who undergoes transmigration following the law of
karma must be a kartA, a doer of actions, as well as one who experiences
the results of karma, a bhoktA. Since the jIva is really a complex
consisting of three "parts", which of these three parts is affected by
karma? This is a legitimate question. We can find the answer by a simple
process of eliminating unlikely candidates. First, Consciousness cannot in
any way be associated with karma and avidyA. Second, the subtle body, which
is an inert entity, cannot be a kartA or a bhoktA. This leaves us with only
one option- the chidAbhAsa. The reflection of Consciousness in the subtle
body, chidAbhAsa is indeed the kartA and bhoktA. If one objects, saying
that the reflection is only an appearance and hence not real, it is to be
noted that even kartRtva and bhoktRtva have an apparent reality! So it is
appropriate that the chidAbhAsa, an apparent reality, is associated with
kartRtva and bhoktRtva, of the same level of reality. Besides, the dvaitin
has no grounds to object to this assertion of the advaitin, particularly
because he (dvaitin) also agrees that kartRtva and bhoktRtva belong to the
jIva, who is a reflection (pratibimba) of the Lord
(bimba-pratibimba-bhAva). In fact, Madhva derives the Bimba-PratibimbabhAva
from the "rUpaM rUpaM pratirUpo babhUva..." mantra of the Rigveda (6.47.18).

Although on the surface the chidAbhAsa is similar to the pratibimba
(reflection) jIva of the dvaitins, the two are quite a bit different. The
reflection, according to them, has a nirupAdhikasambandha with the bimba,
the original. This means there is no *external* reflecting medium which
houses the reflection, unlike the advaitins' theory which does have such a
reflecting medium. And, of course, the advaitins led by the vivaraNa
AchArya hold that the reflection is non-different from the original, the
bimba. This leads us to the discussion of the bheda or otherwise of the
reflection and the original, which should be a topic of a separate post.


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