[Advaita-l] Some thoughts on the nature of bliss

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Tue Feb 28 07:18:28 EST 2017

Namaste SadAji,

<<In that case in the same spirit one we can also equally says he being the
swarvantaraatma also  - suffers (figuratively)  - when the local BMI and
other BMIs suffer. >>

I would slightly differ from this view - yes, it is true that both
experiential viShayAnanda and dukha are mithya. However there is a
fundamental difference between the two. viShayAnanda is ultimately a
reflection of the self's svarUpAnanda in the mind upAdhi, so while the
experience is mithyA, what is experienced is ultimately one's own svarUpa
(it is another matter that out of ignorance one attributes that happiness
as being born from the object, whose arrival seems to trigger the
experience of happiness). However, dukha has no place in the self
whatsoever - it is an attribute of the kshetra, never the kshetrajna. It is
born out of ignorance of this fact, fuelled by attachment to anAtma and
sustained by the delusion created by the separation from anAtma.

Therefore, while one can figuratively say the jnAni claims everyone's joy
as his own, the shruti pointedly does not say that everyone's tragedy is
the jnAni's. shankara bhagavatpAda also refutes this very question by the
pUrvapakshi in the bhAshya quoted in the last mail.

I remember Swami Paramarthananda quoting Swami Dayananda in one of his
talks - whenever someone is sad, we tend to ask "why are you sad", but when
someone is happy, we never ask "why are you happy?". If we think about
this, the reason is that when someone is happy, that is a natural state of
existence, and we never think to question it. However, misery is an
unnatural state, and therefore we seek to enquire into why that came to be.

Another place where shankara bhagavatpAda takes up the topic of misery is
the bhAshya to BrihadAraNyaka 1.4.7.

advaitin (A) : देहावयवविशेष्यत्वाच्च सुखदुःखयोर्विषयधर्मत्वम् happiness and
misery are related to the parts of the body, therefore they are attributes
of the object.

pUrva pakshi (P) तार्किकसमयविरोधादयुक्तमिति चेत्, This can't be true
because it goes against the system of nyAya philosophy.

A: न ; युक्त्याप्यात्मनो दुःखित्वानुपपत्तेः । Not so, because even
logically, misery can never belong  to the self  न हि दुःखेन
प्रत्यक्षविषयेणात्मनो विशेष्यत्वम् , प्रत्यक्षाविषयत्वात् । misery, which
is an object of perception cannot be an attribute of Atma, because Atma
itself is not an object of perception.

P: आकाशस्य शब्दगुणवत्त्ववदात्मनो दुःखित्वमिति चेत् , Well, why can't misery
be an attribute of Atma, just as sound is an attribute of space (which,
like the Atma, is not an object of perception)?

A: न ; एकप्रत्ययविषयत्वानुपपत्तेः । No, because Atma and misery cannot be
objects of the same consciousness. न हि सुखग्राहकेण प्रत्यक्षविषयेण
प्रत्ययेन नित्यानुमेयस्यात्मनो विषयीकरणमुपपद्यते । The consciousness that
perceives happiness and serves as the subject of perception and is ever to
be inferred (according to nyAya matam), cannot objectify consciousness
itself. तस्य च विषयीकरण आत्मन एकत्वाद्विषय्यभावप्रसङ्गः । Because
consciousness being only one, if consciousness itself were to be
objectified, there would be no subject left.

P: एकस्यैव विषयविषयित्वम् , दीपवदिति चेत् , Why cannot the same
consciousness serve as both subject and object, like a lamp?

A: न ; युगपदसम्भवात् , आत्मन्यंशानुपपत्तेश्च । No, this cannot
simultaneously occur, and besides, Atma does not have parts (for one part
to serve as subject and another to serve as object)
एतेन विज्ञानस्य ग्राह्यग्राहकत्वं प्रत्युक्तम् । Because of this, the same
consciousness cannot serve as subject and object.

प्रत्यक्षानुमानविषययोश्च दुःखात्मनोर्गुणगुणित्वे न अनुमानम् ; Further, this
would contradict your own matam (nyAya) because on the one hand you say
dukha and Atma are the objects of perception and anumAna, and on the other,
you say dukha is the attribute of Atma.

दुःखस्य नित्यमेव प्रत्यक्षविषयत्वात् ; रूपादिसामानाधिकरण्याच्च ; Because,
misery is always an object of perception and it inheres in a substance (the
body), which has form and colour.

मनःसंयोगजत्वेऽप्यात्मनि दुःखस्य, सावयवत्वविक्रियावत्त्वानित्यत्वप्रसङ्गात्
। If as the vaisheShika philosophers say, dukha is born when the Atma comes
in contact with the mind, this will lead to several fallacies - it would
necessitate the Atma having parts, being changeable and being non-eternal.

न ह्यविकृत्य संयोगि द्रव्यं गुणः कश्चिदुपयन् अपयन्वा दृष्टः क्वचित् । No
attribute is ever seen to come into a substance or go from a substance
without making a change to the substance.

न च निरवयवं विक्रियमाणं दृष्टं क्वचित् , अनित्यगुणाश्रयं वा नित्यम् । A
partless entity that changes is never seen, nor does an eternal entity
possess transitory attributes.

न चाकाश आगमवादिभिर्नित्यतयाभ्युपगम्यते । You cannot cite the example of
space as something which is eternal and possessing transitory attributes,
because that would be contrary to shruti, which says that even space is
born न चान्यो दृष्टान्तोऽस्ति । There is no other example to prove this.

P: विक्रियमाणमपि तत्प्रत्ययानिवृत्तेः नित्यमेवेति चेत् , What if I say that
a thing can change, but its identity stays the same and thus it is eternal?

A: न ; द्रव्यस्यावयवान्यथात्वव्यतिरेकेण विक्रियानुपपत्तेः । No, because a
change in a substance implies that its parts change (from what they were
before the change to something else after the change)

P: सावयवत्वेऽपि नित्यत्वमिति चेत् , A thing with parts can be eternal too.

A: न ; सावयवस्यावयवसंयोगपूर्वकत्वे सति विभागोपपत्तेः । No, because a thing
with parts came into being by the combination of parts, therefore it can
break up into those parts again.

A: वज्रादिष्वदर्शनान्नेति चेत् , That need not necessarily be true, in the
case of thunder for example.

P: न ; अनुमेयत्वात्संयोगपूर्वत्वस्य । No, because we can infer the thunder
was preceded by a combination.

A: तस्मान्नात्मनो दुःखाद्यनित्यगुणाश्रयत्वोपपत्तिः । Therefore, the Atma
has no transitory attributes such as misery.

P: परस्यादुःखित्वेऽन्यस्य च दुःखिनोऽभावे दुःखोपशमनाय
शास्त्रारम्भानर्थक्यमिति चेत् , If the self has no misery, and there is no
other entity other than the self, then what purpose do scriptures serve?
For scriptures are for the removal of suffering.

A: न ; अविद्याध्यारोपितदुःखित्वभ्रमापोहार्थत्वात् — आत्मनि
प्रकृतसङ्ख्यापूरणभ्रमापोहवत् ; कल्पितदुःख्यात्माभ्युपगमाच्च ॥ Not so, they
serve the purpose of removal of the false notion of suffering which is
superimposed on the self due to ignorance. The self imagines itself as
miserable, and scriptures serve to remove that error, like the teacher
helps get rid of the failure to count (the tenth man).

Thus, while the above bhAshya covers several other issues not necessarily
relevant to our discussion, it does serve to say that misery in particular
has been excluded in the self as something which is unnatural to the self.
One can question why should happiness not be thus excluded - and the answer
is yes, experiential happiness should be excluded, but the reason for the
exclusion is different from why misery is excluded. Happiness is excluded
because the experience of it is mithyA, misery is excluded because misery
itself is mithyA.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list