[Advaita-l] Dvaita Vaada - Vadiraja Teertha's Nyayaratnavali Slokas 267-287 Pratibimba Vaada Part 1

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sun May 31 12:33:35 CDT 2015

Dear Shri Sadanandaji,

Madhusudana Sarasvati takes up this topic of "bimba-pratibimba-abheda" for
discussion in his advaita siddhi and defends the position of the VivaraNa
school, which holds that the jIva is a reflection of Brahman (jIvasya
ahaMkArasthapratibiMbatvam)  and that the jIva is non-different from
Brahman, just as the reflection is non-different from the original. The
objection by the dvaitin opponent begins with "nanu dRShTAnte nAbhedaH
saMpratipannaH caitratacChAye bhinne itivat caitratatpratibimbe bhinne
ityeva pArshvasthitena grahaNAt, svenApi svakaratatpratibimbe bhinne iti
grahaNAcca." Just as a person sitting beside Caitra sees Caitra and his
shadow as different, he sees also Caitra and his reflection (in a mirror,
for example) as different. Also, the person sees his own hand and its
reflection as different. MadhusUdana begins his reply thus:
iti cet na, ApApatato bhedapratItAvapi sayuktika-pratyakSheNa
bimbapratibimbayoraikya-siddhyA dRShTAntatvopapatteH| yathA
lakShaNAparijnAne bhedabhramavato.api bahiHsthitashcaitro
yatsvalakShaNakatvena pratipannaH, tato gRhasthe tathA bhAti tasmin caitra
evAyamiti dhIH, tathA grIvAsthaM mukhaM yatsvalakShaNakaM pratipannaM
darpaNasthamapi tathetyavadhArya tathaivedaM mukhamiti sa evAyaM kara iti
ca svaparasAdhAraNapratItirapyanubhavasiddhA|
What you say is not right. Although there is a cognition of difference
(between the original and the reflection) momentarily, by perception
combined with reasoning, the original and the reflection are established to
be the same. Hence, the example of the Sun and its reflection is
appropriate (in the context of Brahman and jIva). When a person sees Caitra
outside first and then (for a second time) in the house, there is
(momentarily) an illusion of difference (in the form "Is he the same Caitra
or not?") in the absence of an ascertainment of Caitra's characteristics.
However, (this cognition of difference is sublated by) the cognition "This
is indeed Caitra", upon (an ascertainment) of his characteristics.
Likewise, when one cognizes the characteristics of one's face above the
neck in the reflection in the mirror as "this face is exactly that" or (in
the case of reflection of a hand) "it is exactly this hand", such common
cognition of one's own characteristics or that of another (in the mirror)
is proved by experience.
Regarding the objection that the reflection in an unclean or partially
clean mirror does not reveal all the features of the original (and thus
does not appear the same as the original), Madhusudana replies that the
example of reflection is given considering only a clean mirror which makes
recognition of the original possible.
Further, there is a verse in the Manu Smriti (4.37) that is quoted to
indicate the identity between the sun and its reflection.
नेक्षेदुद्यन्तमादित्यं नास्तं यान्तं कदाचन।
नोपरक्तं न वारिस्थं न मध्यं नभसो गतम्॥ मनुस्मृ. ४.३७॥
One should not, at any time, see the rising sun, the setting sun, the
eclipsed sun, the sun reflected in water, and the sun at noon.

The mention of the sun reflected in water is to be noted here as indicating
that the reflection is non-different from the sun, since it does not make
sense to prohibit seeing something that is different from the sun in the
midst of other prohibitions that are specifically concerned with seeing the

What about differences such as lateral inversion, the fact that the
reflected face is turned to the west when the original face is turned to
the east, etc.? MadhusUdana says these are effects of the upAdhi, the
reflecting medium, but not natural or intrinsic differences between the
bimba and the pratibimba. pratyanmukhatvAdiviruddhadharmasya
upAdhikRtatvena svAbhAvika-viruddhadharma-anadhikaraNatvasya sattvAt. Nor
can it be said that the reflection is an illusion in the sense of the
illusory silver in nacre, because there is a negation of the bimba
associated with the upAdhi  "there is no face in the mirror" rather than
the negation "this is not a face", corresponding to the negation "this is
not silver." darpaNe na mukhamityeva upAdhisaMsRShTatayA niShiddhyate, na
tu nedaM rUpyamitivat naitanmukhamiti svarUpeNa.

The upshot of all this is that it is reasonable to say an object appears as
a reflection in a reflecting medium (upAdhi), such as a mirror, instead of
concluding that an object and its reflection are different. In other words,
there is no reflected "object", rather an object appears in a reflecting
medium, such as a mirror. Surely, there are no two objects here. In fact,
the cognition of an object directly and the cognition of its reflection,
ignoring the effect of lateral inversion, are exactly the same.

In addition, knowing what modern science has to tell us, the position of
the VivaraNa school can be justified considering an object and its image,
reflected or produced by a lens or some other instrument. For example, when
we see an object with the help of our eyes, what really happens is an image
is formed on the retina, the screen, with the help of the lens in the eye.
Although, the image formed on the retina is upside down, the brain corrects
it and interprets it normally. Now, when a person sees an object such as a
pot, he does not think that he is merely being aware of an image formed on
his retina, but not the pot itself. The image, which is an accurate
representation of the object "out there" (assuming a normal eye with no
defects), *is* considered as non-different from the object. In a similar
fashion, telescopes, microscopes, cameras, and other instruments provide
images of objects of varying sizes and at varying distances. Here too the
image is considered to be non-different from the original object. For
example, if a surveillance camera image shows a person stealing something
in a store, the thief cannot argue, "It is only an image. It is different
from me. I committed no theft!" In this case, undoubtedly, the image *is*
identified with the person.


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