[Advaita-l] Advaita Siddhi series 017 - tritIya mithyAtva vichAra: (part 1)

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Fri Nov 17 06:46:22 EST 2017

We had previously considered two definitions of mithyAtva by the
panchapAdikAkAra and vivaraNakAra. Now we look at the third definition of
mithyAtva, also proposed by the vivaraNakAra. - jnAna nivartyatvam. That
is, mithyAtva is the sublation of an object by knowledge.

ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वं वा मिथ्यात्वं | mithyAtvam alternatively is the
sublatability of an object by knowledge.

We will first consider the nyAyAmritakAra's objections to this definition:

******problems with the third definition of mithyAtva******
ननु - उत्तरज्ञाननिवर्त्ये पूर्वज्ञाने अतिव्याप्ति:, This definition would
lead to over-extension in the case of the sublation of one thought by a
successive thought.

When an object is seen, a thought objectifying that object arises in the
mind. When another object is then seen, the thought objectifying the first
object is destroyed, therefore the object is not seen. So the subsequent
thought is the cause of destruction of the previous thought. This is true
for all objects, even if they are not mithyA. Thus there is ativyApti
doSha, or over-extension of the definition here.

मुद्गरपातादिनिवर्त्ये च घटादाव्याप्ति: - the objects of the world such as
pots are destroyed not be knowledge, but by things such as the blows of a
hammer. The advaitin holds all the objects of the world to be mithyA, but
none of them are in fact destroyed by knowledge. Thus this definition does
not apply to any tangible object in the world.

ज्ञानत्वेन ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वविवक्षायामप्ययं दोष:,
Even if the definition is limited to the instance of the sublation of an
object by jnAna as jnAna (ie it is only a cognition that sublates), this
defect exists. According to nyAya, jnAna (cognition), rAga, dveSha, sukha,
dukha etc are all properties of the Atma. The replacement of a previous
thought by a successive thought is not limited to cognition alone - any
Atma guNa can be a cause for the sublation of the previous cognition.
Therefore, jnAnatvena jnAna nivartyatvam is too narrow, it ought to be
AtmaguNa vishesheNa jnAna nivartyatvam.

अधिष्ठानसाक्षात्कारत्वेन निवर्त्ये शुक्तिरजतादौ च ज्ञानत्वेन
ज्ञाननिवर्त्यभावात् साध्यविकलता, if the sublatability of a mithyA object is
due to knowledge, then in the case of the shell-silver, mere knowledge of
the shell is not sufficient for the sublation of silver. Only the direct
perception of the shell sublates the silver. For example, if a person hears
from someone else that the shell-silver they are seeing is not real, that
shabda jnAna, knowledge generated by verbal testimony, in itself is not
enough to sublate shell-silver. Its only when the seer directly perceives
the shell that the sublation occurs. Therefore the definition of mithyAtva
as jnAna nivartyatvam is not applicable in the case of shell-silver. If the
example of mithyAtva does not have mithyAtva, then the jagat mithyAtva
anumAna based on the example will be flawed - leading to the defect of
sAdhya vaikalyam.

Therefore to accommodate this, the advaitin can refine the definition such
that the word jnAna means the direct perception of the substratum,
adhiShThAna sAkshAtkAra. sAkshAtkAratvam (vyApya) is a specialised form of
jnAna (vyApakam). Therefore the advaitin can refine the word jnAna in the
definition of mithyA to refer to sAkshAtkAram by the use of the term
jnAnatva vyApya dharmam instead.

ज्ञानत्वव्याप्यधर्मेण ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वविवक्षायां if jnAna in jnAna
nivartyatvam refers to jnAnatva vyApya   (i.e. refers to sAkshAtkAra)
ज्ञानत्वव्याप्येन स्मृतित्वेन ज्ञाननिवर्त्ये संस्कारे अतिव्याप्ति: as
memory also is a specialised form of jnAna, it leads to the over-extension
of mithyAtva to refer to samskAra, latent impressions.

When we experience something, that experience creates latent impressions.
When the latent impressions are activated at a later time, they create a
recollection of the experience. There are some schools within nyAya that
argue that when the recollection occurs, the latent impression is
destroyed. The recollection creates newer, stronger latent impressions
which become the basis for future recollections of the same experience.
Thus each recollection destroys its cause and creates a seed for future
recollection. Not everyone within nyAya accepts this, but the
nyAyamritakAra uses this paksha to argue that as recollection is a special
form of jnAna, it has a jnAnatva vyApya dharma, and therefore as samskAra
is jnAnatva vyApya dharmeNa nivartyatvam, it leads to the classification of
samskAra as mithyA. However, samskAra is not mithyA because no one
considers memory to be unreal. Therefore, this is a case of over-extension.

******siddhikAra's reply - what is jnAna nivartyatvam?******

Now the siddhikAra commences his reply
- इति चेन्न ; If this is the objection, then, not so.

An object has two forms - svarUpa, an essential nature, and kAraNa, a
causal form. A pot exists as clay before it is created. This is termed
satkAryavAda. A naiyyAyika does not agree with this, because he holds that
the pot does not exist before it is created.

satkAryavAdins, like the advaitins, cite the ChAndogya mantra 'sadeva somya
idamagra AsIt' as a basis to hold that "all this" was existing in a causal
form in the beginning, ie before its creation.

Therefore, according to advaita, a pot exists in its kAraNa rUpa, causal
form, before it comes into being. Once a pot is created, it exists both
causally and physically. After destruction, it exists only in its causal
state. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of destruction - niranvaya
vinAsha (when an object is completely destroyed, leaving no traces behind)
and sAnvaya vinAsha (when there are some remaining traces left behind after
destruction). The advaitins believe in sAnvaya vinAsha.

When a pot is broken by the blow of a hammer, it's physical form is
destroyed, but its causal form is not. Only when brahmajnAna occurs will it
cease to exist both in its causal and physical state. This is termed as
avasthiti sAmAnya viraha by the siddhikAra - the basic absence of an object
in all states.

ज्ञानप्रयुक्तावस्थितिसामान्यविरहप्रतियोगित्वं हि ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वं | this
definition, jnAna nivartyatvam, means the absence of every aspect of the
object, ie  avasthiti sAmAnya viraha pratiyogitvam, the counterpositiveness
of the absence of the object in all its aspects.

अवस्थितिश्च द्वेधा, स्वरूपेण कारणात्मना च; There are two kinds of
avasthiti, physical and causal   सत्कार्यवादाभ्युपगमात् Because we hold on
to satkAryavAda, the creation of a pre-existing thing.

तथाच मुद्गरपातेन घटस्य स्वरूपेणावस्थितिविरहेऽपि
कारणात्मनावस्थितिविरहाभावात् In the case of destruction of a pot due to a
hammer blow, even though the pot physically breaks, it continues to exist
in its causal form. ब्रह्मज्ञानप्रयुक्त एव स इति नातीतघटादावव्याप्ति: its
(causal state's) sublation is by knowledge of Brahman alone. Therefore,
even pots that have already been destroyed are included within the
definition of mithyAtva, and thus the charge of avyApti (under extension)
is not applicable.

There can be a doubt here. In the case of a pot that is broken, it has
already lost its physical form. When brahma jnAna arises, only its causal
form gets destroyed. Therefore, the siddhikAra's definition of jnAna
nivartyatvam as jnAna prayukta avasthiti sAmAnya viraha pratiyogitvam, will
not apply in such cases, because jnAna is not a cause of both kAraNa
avasthA and svarUpa avasthA. It is the cause of nivritti of only the kAraNa
avasthA. Thus objects whose form has been destroyed would not be mithyA.

This is not true because the third definition of mithyAtva does not require
that every form has to be destroyed by knowledge. All that is required is
that no form of the object exists after jnAna arises.

By sAmAnya viraha, the siddhikAra means sAmAnyA abhAva, the absence of any
object that belongs to that object's class. To explain, when we say that
there is no blue pot on the ground, it is a vishesha abhAva, it is the
absence of a specific blue pot. However, when we say there is no pot on the
ground, it is sAmAnya abhAva, no object endowed with potness (ghaTatvam) is
present. To postulate sAmAnya abhAva of an object, there is no requirement
that the seer should have prior knowledge of all objects belong to the same
class. To say that a pot is not present, one does not require the prior
knowledge of all pots everywhere, at all time. All he needs to verify is
that there is an absence of ghaTa sAmAnya dharma in that place.

Therefore there is no requirement that jnAna has to sublate every form of
the object for us to claim its sAmAnya abhAva, all that is required is that
neither the physical nor the causal form of the object is in existence
after knowledge arises.

अत एवोत्तरज्ञाननिवर्तये पूर्वज्ञाने न सिद्धसाधनं therefore, while the
subsequent cognition destroys the physical form of the previous cognition,
the charge of ativyApti levelled by the nyAyAmritakAra is not present here.
The term ativyApti is used in the context of defects in lakshaNas, when it
is described in terms of sAdhya, the equivalent defect is siddhasAdhana.

नवा वियदादौ ब्रह्मज्ञाननाश्यत्वेऽपि तद्वदेव मिथ्यात्वासिद्ध्यार्थान्तरम् ;
The nyAyAmritakAra could argue that arthAntara is present -  that is,
instead of proving mithyAtvam, all that is proven is the destruction of the
object. Even though the world consisting of space, etc., is destroyed due
to brahmajnAna, why does this imply the world's mithyAtvam?  Just like how
the mithyAtva of the previous cognition is not proven by its destruction by
a subsequent cognition, the world does not become mithyA because it gets
sublated by brahma jnAna.

The siddhikAra says, while the former is true, the latter is not - the two
cases are different. In the case of the previous cognition's destruction by
subsequent cognition, its causal state is not destroyed, whereas when
brahma jnAna arises, the world's physical and its causal state are
non-existent. It must be noted that this does not establish the reality of
cognitions as a result  - all that is said is that the destruction of
cognition by another thought is not sufficient to prove its mithyAtva. In
order to establish the mithyAtva of an object, after jnAna arises, no trace
of it should be left. This condition is met for the world, but not met for
the pUrva jnAna's nivritti due to uttara jnAna.

उत्तरज्ञाने लीनस्य पूर्वज्ञानस्य
स्वकारणात्मनावस्थानादवस्थितिसामान्यविरहानुपपत्ते: | because while the
subsequent cognition will only destroy the physical form of the previous
cognition, it continues to exist in its causal state (as samskAra).
Therefore its jnAna prayukta sAmAnya viraha pratiyogitvam is not
established. This is not a case of mithyA, whereas no aspect of the world
remains after brahmajnAna.

A question may occur - why is there a requirement for the words "jnAna
prayukta" in the definition, "because of jnAna"? It is to differentiate
mithyA from asat.

शशविषाणादाववस्थितिसामान्यविरहेऽपि तस्य ज्ञानप्रयुक्तत्वाभावान्नतिव्याप्ति:
| asat is also absolutely absent in any form, however its absence is not a
result of jnAna. Therefore, by adding the qualification "because of jnAna",
asat is excluded from the definition. The total absence of an object
(avasthiti sAmAnya viraha)  has to be established because of jnAna (but as
we saw earlier, there is no requirement that the absence of each state
is established by jnAna).

Only then it can be called mithyA. Therefore, the definition does not
suffer from ativyApti due to asat.

The nyAyAmritakAra had argued that the shell-silver, the driShTAnta for
mithyAtva, itself is not included in such a definition because the
destruction of shell-silver is not by jnAna as jnAna (ज्ञानत्वेन
ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वं), but by a specialised direct cognition of the substratum
of the illusion. The siddhikAra replies:

शुक्तिरजतादेश्चापरोक्षप्रतीत्यन्यथानुपपत्त्या प्रतिभासकाले
अवस्थित्यङ्गीकारान्न बाधकज्ञानं विना तद्विरह इति न साध्यविकलता | The direct
perception of shell silver is not possible without accepting that it exists
at the time of its appearance. It is not some other silver that is seen
here. It is also only present at the time of its appearance, not always.
Therefore, as the absolute absence of such a silver is not possible without
a sublating knowledge, the definition of mithyAtva does apply to
shell-silver and the charge of sAdhya vaikalyam (the sAdhya of mithyAtva
not being present in the driShTAnta) is not applicable.

To be continued.
Originally posted on 17th November, 2017.


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