[Advaita-l] The eternal Witness to be recognized in two ways

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Apr 17 03:30:48 EDT 2017

The eternal Witness to be recognized in two ways

That there is an eternal consciousness, unchanging and always available to
the individual to experience, is to be recognized in at least two ways.

1. Every knowledge that arises owing to the contact of the senses and
objects (pratyaksha) or due to anumāna is revealed as 'this is known by me'
by the sākṣī. This revealing or illumining of the vṛtti is essential
because the vṛtti by itself does not constitute knowledge. The vrtti can at
best connect the mind to the object through the sense organ. The revealing
of this vṛtti culminating in knowledge is made possible by the sākṣī.

2. Another unique and definite way of appreciating the sākṣī is that one's
awareness of one's own ignorance of anything whatsoever is first
revealed/illumined by the sākṣī. This is because there is no vrttī-contact
with anything that results in 'I do not know...'. It is only *after* one
becomes aware of one's ignorance of anything that he attempts to dispel
that ignorance by various ways available like employing pratyakṣa, anumāṇa,
śabda, etc.  Thus such an exercise is preceded by the initial becoming
aware of one's ignorance and this is made possible only by the
revealing/illumining sākṣī.

Thus we have two ways to recognize and appreciate the unchanging eternal
witness-consciousness within ourself.  It is actually our true self but
owing to the body-mind adhyāṣa (association/identification) we place the
sākṣī as something other than us, witnessing the transformations of the

1. the consciousness  illumining every knowledge post-mind-sense-object
interaction: 'This is known by me.'

2. the one that reveals 'I do not know'.

In essence, it is the sākṣī that reveals both ignorance and knowledge.

This explanation was given by the eminent scholar Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal
in the course of the Advaita Siddhi discourse.

Shankara has said in the BSB 1.1.1:

 एवमहंप्रत्ययिनमशेषस्वप्रचारसाक्षिणि प्रत्यगात्मन्यध्यस्य तं च *प्रत्यगात्मानं
सर्वसाक्षिणं* तद्विपर्ययेणान्तःकरणादिष्वध्यस्यति । एवमयमनादिरनन्तो
नैसर्गिकोऽध्यासो मिथ्याप्रत्ययरूपः कर्तृत्वभोक्तृत्वप्रवर्तकः
सर्वलोकप्रत्यक्षः ।

Shankara says that the sākṣī is verily the pratyagāmā, the innermost self.

Om Tat Sat

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