[Advaita-l] The deniability of perception

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Sat May 27 17:04:00 EDT 2017

The first part of this article can be found here:

In the last article on the subject based on a discussion in advaita siddhi,
we had looked at various conceptions of satyam that were mithyAtva
viruddha, but were not pratyaksha yogya. Now we look at various other
conceptions of satyam given by the pUrva pakshi that are pratyaksha yogya,
but as we will see, are not mithyAtva viruddha.

The siddhikAra says:
नापि सत्ता जातिरर्थक्रियाकारित्वमसद्वैलक्षण्यं वा ; You may say that sattA,
existence, is
1) a jAti, or species - the naiyyAyika says that every individual of any
kind belongs to a common species called jAti. All the creatures of a jAti
will have common features. His conception of the idea is that the moment
one sees an individual, say a cow (go:), automatically cowness (gotva) jAti
is perceived. The siddhikAra says, perhaps your (the pUrvapakshi's) view of
existence is that it is a jAti, so that every object that exists
automatically belongs to the sattA jAti. Such a sattA would be perceptible.

2) Alternatively, you may say sattA is that which has arthakriyAkAritvam,
i.e. some utility. Some kArya can happen as a result of sattA.

3) Alternatively, you may say sat is that which is other than asat.

All these happen to be perceivable, one way or the other. However, if this
is your conception of satyam, we will show there is no pratyaksha bAdha
(contradiction of perception) due to mithyAtva anumAna.

एतेषां मिथ्यात्वाविरोधित्वेन तत्प्रत्यक्षेण मिथ्यात्वानुमाने बाधाभावात् |
None of these contradict mithyA, and their perceptibility does not cause
the refutation of mithyAtva anumAna. If existence is a jAti, that is not
viruddha to mithyAtva, because mithyAtva could be a jAti too, and an
individual can belong to two jAtis - a cow can belong to gotva jAti and
pashutva jAti. Alternatively, if you say satyam is something that leads to
some action, even a mithyA object like shell silver impels people to pick
up shell thinking it is silver. If you say satyam is that which is not
asat, even mithyA is asat vilakshaNam.

4) नापि वेदान्त्यभिमतमिथ्यात्वाभाव: सत्त्वम्; Nor can you say that the
satyam is that which is not mithyA, as defined by vedAntins
 तुच्छेऽतिव्याप्ते: | because such a definition would be equally applicable
to asat, because even that is not mithyA, and one cannot say asat objects
have satyam.

5) नाप्यसद्विलक्षणत्वे सत्यनारोपितत्वम् ; Nor can you say satyam is that
which is different from asat, and at the same time has anAropitatvam. What
is this anAropitatvam? अनारोपितत्वं हि आरोपाविषयत्वम्, that which is not
the object of a superimposition (i.e. a wrong cognition).
तच्चासंभवि | However such a definition would suffer from asambhava doSha,
because every object is the object of a superimposition.
सर्वस्यापि क्षणिकत्वादिना आरोपविषयत्वात् | It is not just us that say it -
everything in the world is kshaNikam, is Aropitam, says the bauddha.

6) नाप्यस्तित्वप्रकारप्रमांप्रति कदाचित् साक्षाद्विषयत्वं, Alternatively
you may say, satyam is that which is sometimes the object of a correct
cognition having astitvam as its adjective. For example, in the cognition
"ghaTa: asti", "a pot is present", "astitva" is the prakAra, an adjective
of the visheShya, "ghaTa:". The existence that is inferred from such a
pramA can be satyam.

What is astitvam? अस्तित्वं च वर्तमानत्वम्, astitvam is that which is
present now.

नतु सत्त्वमतो नात्माश्राय:, by defining satyam thus, you are removing the
AtmAshraya doSha we identified previously. Earlier you had defined satyam
as that which has satyam as prakAraka, and here you have astitva (i.e.
vartamAnatvam) as prakAraka. Let us for one moment assume that it solves
the self dependency defect (AtmAshraya).

Further you may use this definition to argue that अतीतादिरपि कदाचिद्वर्तत
एवेति नाव्याप्ति, even the objects of the past would have existed at some
time, thus the definition would apply to objects that existed in the past

However, there is another defect with this definition. प्रमात्वस्य
सत्त्वघटितत्वेन चक्षुराद्ययोग्यत्वेन च पूर्वोक्तदोषात्, your definition of
pramA is already included within the definition of sattvam (sattva
ghaTitatvam). Therefore, it suffers from all the flaws of tying the
definition of pramA and satyam - to define pramA you need satyam and to
define satyam you need pramA, or anyonyAshraya.

Moreover, pramA is not something which is perceptible to the eyes etc. Why?
Your definition of pramA is tadvati tatprakAraka viShayatvam pramAtvam -
right knowledge is the knowledge of an object as it really is. You take any
object in the world - there are many things about it that one can see and
many things about it that one cannot see. So if you say pramA is knowing an
object as it actually is, it will necessarily mean knowing both the things
about the object that are directly perceptible and those things that are
not. Such a pramA is cannot be generated through direct perception,
therefore existence denoted by such a pramA is also not perceptible. If
this satyam itself is not perceptible, you cannot say that pratyaksha
satyatvam is contrary to anumita mithyAtvam.

वर्तमानत्वप्रकारकप्रमाविषयत्वेऽपि मिथ्यात्वाविरोधाच्च | If you argue that
satyam is existence of an object in the present  - Such a satyam is not
virodhi to mithyAtva. Why? Until brahmajnAna arises, we do not deny the
vyAvahArika existence of a mithyA object, therefore for an ajnAni,
existence in the present cannot be denied. Until he knows of a higher
reality,  everyday reality is all there is for him. However, mithyAtva is
not contrary to such an everyday reality, it is in fact the same thing.
That being the case, this definition of satyatva is not contradictory to

7) कालसंबन्धित्वं वा सत्त्वम्, or alternatively, if you say sattvam is that
which has some relationship with time - asat objects like a hare's horn do
not appear at any time and thus they would be excluded from this definition.

Further आरोपितं च कालत्रयासंबन्धित्वेन बाधेन बोधितमिति shell silver, which
is superimposed, has no relationship with time, because according to the
advaitin, after sublation has occurred, the shell silver does not exist in
all three periods of time. न द्वितीयलक्षणेऽतिव्याप्तिरिति वाच्यम् ,
therefore shell silver does not get caught in this definition of existence.
The world, on the other hand, is existent per this definition.

The siddhikAra says to this:
द्वितीयमपि न मिथ्यात्वविरोधि the second definition (kAla sambandhitvam) is
not virodhi to mithyAtva ,
शुक्तिरूप्यस्यापि प्रतिभासकालसंबन्धित्वात् because the shell silver has a
relationship with time when it is seen, बाधेन
| and when sublation happens, while the real relation (tAtvika sambandha)
of the shell silver with time is denied in all three times, an unreal
relation with time is not denied.

8) नापि तात्त्विककालसंबन्धित्वं तत् to correct for this, if you say satyam
is the tAtvika sambandha with kAla - ie possessing a real relationship with
time, तात्त्विकस्याद्याप्यनिरूपणात् then that also is not correct because
what is tAttvika has not been proved yet , निरूपणे वा शेषवैयर्थ्यात् and if
it is proved, you do not need to have kAla sambandhitvam in the definition,
as the definition of tAttvika or reality would be sufficient for a
definition of satyam |

9) ननु - भवन्मते यत् सत्त्वं ब्रह्मणि, तदेवेह मम | to this the objector has
enough and says - whatever you call as satyam for Brahman, that is the same
satyam I have for prapancha.

उक्तंहि - 'यादृशं ब्रह्मण: सत्त्वं तादृशं स्याज्जगत्यपि | तत्र
स्यात्तदनिर्वाच्यं चेदिहापि तथास्तु न: || ' इति |
The nyAyAmritakAra's sloka is quoted here: "Whatever is the existence of
Brahman, that is the same existence of the world. If you say that such an
existence is anirvachanIyam, then the world's existence is anirvachanIyam

The pUrvapakshi continues - the advaitin may try to find a fault with my
definition by arguing thus
नच - तत्रापरिच्छिन्नत्वं सत्त्वम्, तच्च न जगतीति - वाच्यम् - In the case
of Brahman, its limitlessness is sattvam, but the world does not have such
a limitlessness.

तुच्छस्यापरिच्छिन्नत्वेऽपि सत्त्वानभ्युपगमान्नापरिच्छिन्नत्वं सत्त्वम्, किं
त्वन्यदेव Such an objection is incorrect because asat also can be said to
have a kind of limitlessness (its non existence has no limits), but no one
will claim that asat has existence. Thus limitlessness cannot be the
defining factor for existence, something else must. What is it?
तच्च ब्रह्मणीव भ्रमाधिष्ठानत्वाच्छुक्तिकादेरपि भविष्यति It must be bhrama
adhishThAnatvam, being substratum for bhrama  - and that happens to be
common both for Brahman and the shell. Being both bhrama adhisthAnAs, why
can't we say the existence of the shell is the same as Brahman? The
existence of every object like the shell, and consequently, the existence
of the entire world therefore, is the same as the existence of Brahman

इति चेत्, This is the argument of the pUrvapakshi.

To this, the siddhikAra says:
नूनं विवाहसमये कन्याया: पित्रा निजगोत्रं पृष्ठस्य your stand is like the
prospective groom, who was asked by his prospective father-in-law at the
time of his wedding "what is your gotra?"
यदेव भवतां गोत्रं तदेव ममापि गोत्रमिति वदतो वरस्य भ्राता भवान्, to which
the young man replied, "whatever is your gotra sir, that is my gotra too".
You are like that groom's elder brother.

यतो जामातृश्वशुरयोरेकगोत्रत्वे विवाहानुपपत्तिवज्जगद्ब्रह्मणोरेकसत्त्वे
जगतोऽसत्त्वमेव स्यात् | like how the wedding of a groom belonging to the
same gotra as the father in law is not possible, saying the world has the
same sattA as Brahman is as good as saying the world has no sattA - because
this means that the world has no sattA of its own.

तथाहि - स्वप्रकाशाद्वितीयचैतन्यरूपत्वमेव ब्रह्मण: सत्त्वम् ; Ultimately,
according to us, Brahman's sattA is of the nature of self evident, non-dual

तदेव चेज्जडस्यापि जगतस्तदा रजतत्वविरोधिशुक्तिसत्तया रजतस्येव
जडत्वविरोधिस्वप्रकाशसत्तया जगत: स्वरूपतो मिथ्यात्वोपपत्ते: | if you say
that the inert world's existence is the same as Brahman's existence which
is nothing but self-evident consciousness, it is like saying the silver's
existence is the same as the shell's existence. However, as the shellness
is mutually exclusive with silverness, calling the silver's existence as
the same as shell's existence is in fact proving the silver's absence.
Similarly, the inertness of the world is viruddha, incompatible, with the
self evident existence-consciousness that is Brahman, therefore stating
that the world's existence is the same as Brahman's existence, only serves
to prove the mithyAtva of the world, and not its satyatva.

सर्वभ्रमाधिष्ठानत्वाभ्युपगमान्न भ्रमाधिष्ठानत्वेन
शुक्त्यादे: सत्त्वसिद्धि: | In fact, even the basis for comparing Brahman
and the shell - ie their common status as the substratum for all bhramas,
is incorrect. The shell is not the substratum of the silver. Only Brahman,
which is the object of primal ignorance, is the substratum of everything.
In the case of prAtibhAsika objects like shell silver, it is not shell
which is the substratum, but consciousness delimited by the shell, which
happens to be the substratum. In the case of vyAvahArika objects like the
pot, it is delimited consciousness that is the substratum. Thus, it is
Brahman, whether delimited or non-delimited, which happens to be the
substratum of all bhramas.

In this article, the siddhikAra considered 9 possible definitions of
satyatva that can be perceived in the world, and in each case, proved why
it is not contrary to mithyAtva anumAna.

We will conclude this analysis of pratyaksha bAdha, a major challenge to
siddhAnta, with one more article, hopefully in the next few days.


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