[Advaita-l] Advaita Siddhi series 018 - tritIya mithyAtva vichAra: (part 2)

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Fri Nov 24 11:18:52 EST 2017

In the previous post, we had looked at the third definition of mithyAtva
proposed by the vivaraNakAra - jnAna nivartyatvam. The nyAyAmritakAra had
cited certain exceptions to this definition, which in his opinion, rendered
it unfit to describe mithyAtvam completely (avyApti) or accurately
(ativyApti). The siddhikAra in each case had addressed the defects
identified by the nyAyAmritakAra.

In doing so, the true meaning of jnAna nivartyatvam was brought out as
jnAna prayukta avasthiti sAmAnya viraha pratiyogitvam - the general absence
of all the states of an object brought about by knowledge. The
nyAyAmritakAra may think that this is a refinement that the siddhikAra has
independently provided to the original definition. To refute such a
potential allegation, the siddhikAra now sets out to prove that this is the
intention of the vivaraNAchArya as well. He says:

अतेवोक्तं विवरणाचार्यै: - "अज्ञानस्य स्वकार्येण प्रविलीनेन वर्तमानेन वा सह
ज्ञानेन निवृत्तिर्बाध " इति | The same was said by the vivaraNAchArya -
sublation is the cessation of ignorance along with its products in their
physical state (वर्तमानेन = current, i.e. tangible state) and in their
causal state (प्रविलीनेन).

The words 'jnAnena nivritti' of the vivaraNakAra are equivalent to the
siddhikAra's 'jnAna prayukta', and the words 'pravilInena vartamAnena vA
nivritti' are equivalent to 'avasthiti sAmAnya viraha pratiyogitvam' of the

Not only the vivaraNakAra, the same has been said by sureshvarAchArya too.

वार्तिककृद्भिश्चोक्तं - "तत्त्वमस्यादिवाक्योत्थसम्बन्धधीजन्ममात्रत: |
अविद्या सह कार्येण नासीदस्ति भविष्यति ||" इति | The vartikakAra also has
said this - by the mere rise (janma mAtra) of the jnAna (sAkshAtkAra) that
is born out of the mahAvAkya "That thou art", avidyA and its products cease
to exist in any of the three periods of time - past, present and future.
सह कार्येण नासीदिति लीनेन कार्येण सह निवृत्त्यभिप्रायं | by the words
"(avidyA) with its products *were* not in existence", the sublation of the
object along with its samskAra (latent impression) is implied.

How? To answer, let us consider, when do we talk of an object in the past
tense? When we are reminded of an occasion in the past in relation to the
object. Therefore when we say "there was a pot", we can infer that a
samskAra of the pot exists now, which triggered the memory of its past
existence. Therefore by saying nAsIt (it was not in existence), the
vArtikakAra is implying samskAra nivritti (लीनेन कार्येण सह). By the use of
nAsti (it is not in existence), the vArtikakAra is referring to the
negation of its physical state in the present.

"सह कार्येण न भविष्यति" इति तु भाविकार्यनिवृत्त्यभिप्रायमितन्यदेतत् | by
saying avidyA and its products will not come into existence (na
bhaviShyati), it means that the effect cannot be born if the cause,
ignorance, no longer exists. By anyadetat, siddhikAra is saying that this -
that an effect cannot come into existence without its cause - is an aspect
not relevant to our discussion now.

Now we take a little diversion to consider whether avidyA is one or many.
If avidya is one, ie there is only one ignorance, then the destruction of
ignorance, will lead to the rise of brahma jnAna. That is, if shell
ignorance is removed by knowledge of the shell, knowledge of brahman should
also arise, as in destroying shell-ignorance, the only ignorance is
destroyed. However, this is an absurd proposition - many disappointed
silver seekers would end up as brahma jnAnis!

To avoid this, if one were to say that the knowledge of the shell does not
remove the ignorance of the shell, then that is equivalent to saying
knowledge cannot remove ignorance. Thus brahma jnAna will also not remove
brahma ajnAna. There is no drishTAnta, example, with which to argue that
with brahma jnAna, brahma ajnAna nivritti is possible. Thus there are some
logical problems when using the shell-silver example, in the case where
avidyA is one. They can be surmounted, but for this discussion, the
siddhikAra takes the case of avidyA being many.

रूप्योपादानमज्ञानम् स्वकार्येण वर्तमानेन लीनेन वा
सहाधिष्ठानसाक्षात्कारान्निवर्तते | तत्तद्रूप्योपादानानामज्ञानानाम्
भेदाभ्युपगमादिति न दृष्टान्ते साध्यवैकल्यम् ;
The sublation of the illusory shell silver and its material cause, shell
ignorance, happens when the shell is directly perceived. This silver can be
present at the time of perception or only as a latent impression. Each form
having a different material cause, a different ajnAna (ie nAnA ajnAna
paksha), there is no sAdhya vaikalyam, ie the charge that mithyAtva (jnAna
nivartyatvam) does not exist in the example, is refuted. With each jnAna,
the cessation of both the illusion and its material cause, which is a
unique ignorance, happens. Thus in the nAna ajnAna paksha, there is no
sAdhya vaikalyam.

मुद्गरपातानन्तरं घटो नास्तीति प्रतीतिवदधिष्ठानज्ञानानन्तरं शुक्त्यज्ञानं
तद्गतरुप्यं च नास्तीति प्रतीते: सर्वसंमतत्वात् | After a hammer breaks a
pot, its clearly known that there is no pot in existence. Similarly,  after
the knowledge of the substratum, the knowledge that neither shell ignorance
nor its product, shell-silver, is in existence is clearly acceptable by

The nyAyAmritakAra had said that jnAna nivartyatvam is not an acceptable
definition, it has to be refined to jnAnatva vyApya dharmeNa jnAna
nivartyatvam (the sublation by a special case of jnAna). jnAnatvam is
present in all cognitions in general, whereas sAkshAtkAratvam (of the
nature of direct perception), anubhavatvam (of the nature of experience),
smrititvam (of the nature of memory) etc are jnAnatvavyApya, special cases
of jnAna. He had argued that the sublation by knowledge is not by all
cognitions (ie with jnAnatva sAmAnya dharma), but it is a special kind of
jnAna that sublates (jnAnatvavyApya dharmeNa jnAna nivartyatvam). He had
gone on to argue that even this definition was incorrect because there is
an overextension, ativyApti, in the case of samskAra. He had also said that
there is ativyApti in the case of the sublation of one cognition by another
cognition that immediately follows it.

The siddhikAra now refutes both these defects.

ज्ञानत्वव्याप्यधर्मेण ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वमित्यपि साधु | It is correct to say
that the sublatability by knowledge is in fact the sublatability by a
special kind of knowledge.
उत्तरज्ञानस्य पुर्वज्ञाननिवर्तकत्वं च न ज्ञानत्वव्याप्यधर्मेण,
 किन्त्विच्छादिसाधारणे नोदीच्यात्मविशेषगुणत्वेन उदीच्यत्वेन वेति न
सिद्धसाधनादि | The destruction of one knowledge by the subsequent
knowledge, is not because the subsequent knowledge has a special attribute
- any knowledge in general that arises subsequently, including icChA
(desire) etc, which according to the naiyyAyika is a special attribute of
the Atma, is capable of superceding the previous knowledge. Therefore, it
is udIcyatvam of the jnAna, ie its immediate occurrence after the prior
knowledge, which gives it the ability to remove the previous knowledge.  We
had already seen that such a subsequent jnAna cannot remove the samskAra of
the previous jnAna, so this 'destruction' is not a case of jnAna

नापीच्छाद्यनिवर्तये स्मृतित्वे न ज्ञाननिवर्त्ये संस्कारे अतिव्याप्ति:
Latent impressions, are not destroyed by desire, but memory, leading to the
overextension of this definition of mithyAtva to samskAra - this was the
view of the nyAyAmritakAra. According to him, the memory of an object /
experience can remove the samskAra of that object / experience. Thus he had
argued that memory, a jnAnatva vyApya dharma, is capable of removing
samskAra, making it mithyA. The siddhikAra refutes this view (that memory
can remove samskAra).

There are three views within nyAya in this regard:

1) raghunAtha shiromaNi (dIdhiti) - there is destruction of latent
impressions due to memory. That recollection creates a new latent
impression which is stronger. If that is again recollected, it will destroy
the newer impression and create another stronger impression, and so on.
2) vishvanAtha bhaTTAcArya (nyAya siddhAnta muktAvali) - latent impressions
are not created by memory, only by experience. Similarly, impressions are
not destroyed by memory. With each recollection, the impression is
activated (samskAra udbodha), which keeps the impression from deactivating,
making it stronger.
3) the ancients (prAchina) - Both experience and memory create latent
impressions. Memory does not destroy impressions. With each recollection,
new impressions are created. The multitude of impressions about the same
object make it strong.

स्मृतित्वेन स्मृते: संस्कारनिवर्तकत्वे मानाभावात् | There is no pramANa,
basis, to claim that memory can destroy latent impressions.

स्मृतौ हि जातायां संस्कारो दृढो भवतीत्यनुभवसिद्धम् | In fact, experience
tell us that our latent impressions become stronger with each recollection.

तेषां दृढतरत्वं च समानविषयकसंस्कारानेकत्वादित्य दोष: | When the same
experience is recollected, newer samskAras created, causing the
recollection to become stronger. As a result, the claim that memory
destroys latent impressions is not true and therefore there is no defect

वस्तुतस्तु, साक्षात्कारत्वेन ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वम् विवक्षितम् ; अतो न
पूर्वोक्तदोष: | In any case, what is meant is that it is the direct
perception of the substratum that leads to the sublation. Therefore, the
previous defects cited do not apply.

नापि निश्चयत्वेन ज्ञानत्वव्याप्यधर्मेण ज्ञाननिवर्त्ये संशये अतिव्याप्तिरीति
सर्वमवदातम् || When we have certainty, any doubts that we may have are
cleared. nishchayatvam (certitude) which is a special property of jnAna, is
also jnAnatva vyApya dharma. The pUrvapakshi may argue that as doubt is
removed due to jnAna endowed with certainty,  it leads to ativyApti in the
case of doubt. However, since the intention of the jnAnatva vyApya dharma
was to refer to sAkshAtkAratvam, such a charge is uncalled for.

With this, the chapter covering the third definition of mithyAtva in the
advaita siddhi has been completed.

Originally posted on 24th November, 2017.


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