[Advaita-l] Advaita Siddhi series 006 - prathama mithyAtva vichAra: (part 1)

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Sat Sep 9 15:00:19 EDT 2017


In the previous section, we examined the paksha in the mithyAtva anumAna.
Now we will take up an enquiry into the sAdhya, mithyAtva. What does mithyA
mean? Various thinkers in the advaita tradition have defined mithyA in
different terms, covering various aspects of the concept. The
nyAyAmritakAra takes up five definitions of mithyAtva and argues that there
are several logical inconsistencies within them. The siddhikAra refutes
these arguments.

The first definition of mithyAtva is sadasat vilakshaNatvam, that which is
different from sat and asat, as posited by PadmapAda, the author of the
panchapAdikA. In the adhyAsa bhAShya of Adi Shankara BhagavatpAda, the term
mithyA is used in two different senses. In the beginning of the adhyAsa
bhAShya, there is a usage "अध्यासो मिथ्येति भवितुं युक्तम्" and immediately
thereafter, "मिथ्याज्ञाननिमित्तः". There is a difference in the meaning of
the word mithyA in these two places. In अध्यासो मिथ्येति भवितुं युक्तम्,
the word mithyA means that which is not existent. That adhyAsa is not
possible at all is the prima facie view of the pUrvapakshi, and it is in
this sense that the word mithyA is first used. In reply, ShankarAchArya
says despite adhyAsa appearing to be an impossibility, मिथ्याज्ञाननिमित्तः
as a result of mithyA jnAna, that such an adhyAsa is the natural state of
world affairs is self evident. Explaining the word mithyA here, the
panchapAdikAkAra says मिथ्याशब्दो अनिर्वचनीयतावचन: - the word mithyA (here)
means anirvachanIyam. anirvachanIyam is सदसत्विलक्षणं - it is neither sat,
nor asat. It is different from both.

The nyAyAmritakAra takes this definition of mithyAtva up for refutation. He
ननु - किमिदं मिथ्यात्वं साध्यते, न तावत् 'मिथ्याशब्दो अनिर्वचनीयतावचन' इति
पञ्चापादिकावचनात् सदसदत्वानधिकरणत्वरूपमनिर्वाच्यत्वं. As long as mithyAtva
is defined, in the words of the panchapAdika, as "mithyA is that which is
anirvachanIyam", and anirvachanIyatva as not being the locus of sat or asat
- how is such a mithyAtva possible?

Why is mithyAtva as being different from sat and asat untenable?
तद्धि किं असत्त्वविशिष्टसत्त्वाभाव: उत
सत्त्वात्यन्ताभावासत्त्वात्यन्ताभावरूपम् धर्मद्वयं, आहोस्वित्
सत्त्वात्यन्ताभाववत्त्वे सति असत्त्वात्यन्ताभावरूपं विशिष्टं?
Does sadasat vilakshaNatva mean
1) The absence of : sat endowed with asat, or
2) The two properties being the absence of sat and the absence of asat, or
3) While the absolute absence of sat is present, the absolute absence of
asat also is present.

Let us look at an example to understand how these are different. When we
say daNDi puruSha:, we are referring to a person with a stick. This could
1) A person with a stick
2) A person and a stick.
While these two appear to be the same, there is a subtle difference between
the two which can be understood when we look at the absence, or abhAva of
daNDi puruSha. When we say daNDI puruSha: nAsti, we could either mean
1) the person is there, but the stick is not there.
2) the stick is there, but the person is not there.
3) both the person and the stick are not there.
The pratiyogi of the daNDi puruSha abhAva is the puruSha only (not daNDa),
whereas the pratiyogi of daNDa and puruSha abhAva is daNda and puruSha.
Thus the expression "man with stick" is different from the expression "man
and stick".

Similarly, the nyAyAmritakAra wants to know whether the mithyAtva of the
world means that the world
1) has the absence of sat endowed with asat.
2) has the absence of sat and absence of asat.
3) has satvAbhAva present along with asatvAbhAva

According to him, there are problems in each of these alternatives.

नाद्य:, सत्त्वमात्राधारे जगत्यसत्त्वविशिष्टसत्त्वानभ्युपगमात्,
विशिष्टाभावसाधने सिद्धसाधनात् | The first alternative is untenable, as the
dvaitin holds the world is
endowed with reality. He is not claiming that the world is sat endowed with
asat. Therefore, in proving that the world is mithyA, ie it is not sat
endowed with asat, the advaitin is proving something that the dvaitin
already accepts. Thus it is a case of siddha sAdhAna. He might as well save
his breath.

A second objection possible is that a thing such as sat mixed with asat is
impossible, therefore denying it is impossible too. However, while the
dvaitin does not make such a claim, it is possible for the naiyyAyika to do
so. The reason is because dvaita and nyAyA treat asat differently.

In nyAya, if there is absence, abhAvam, it must have a counter-positive,
pratiyogi. A pot must be present somewhere for it to be absent. A thing
never present anywhere cannot be said to be absent. The dvaitin does not
require that abhAva, as a rule, must have a pratiyogi.

According to dvaita, asat can be the object of verbal expression, ie it can
said to be non existent. In nyAya, asat cannot even be spoken as
non-existent, as it is not available for any verbal expression, including
as "nAsti", non-existence.

The naiyyAyika differentiates atyantAbhAvam from asat - that which is
present in one thing, but completely absent in all three periods of time in
other things is atyantAbhAvam for him. In wind, vAyu, rUpa or form has
atyantAbhAvam, because rUpa is present elsewhere. If form was not present
anywhere, it cannot be said to be absent either.

So, if something is said to be non-existent, that non-existence can only
refer to atyantAbhAvam, not asat. asat cannot even be said to not exist.

Therefore, while the dvaitin can point out the logical fallacies in the
absence of sat endowed with asat, the naiyyAyika can add another objection
that such a thing as sat mixed with asat itself is an impossibility, and
thus to deny it is also an impossibility.

न द्वितीयः, सत्त्वासत्त्वयोरेकाभावे अपरसत्त्वाश्यकत्वेन व्याघातात्,
निर्धर्मकब्रह्मवत्सत्त्वासत्त्वराहित्ये अपि सद्रूपत्वेन अमिथ्यात्वोपपत्त्या
अर्थान्तराच्च, शुक्तिरूप्ये अबाध्यत्वरूपसत्त्वव्यतिरेकस्य सत्त्वेन
बाध्यत्वरूप असत्त्वस्य व्यतिरेक असिद्ध्या साद्धयवैकल्याच्च।

The second option is "where satyatva and asatyatva both are not present" is
mithyA. The nyAyAmritakAra objects to this for three reasons -
सत्त्वासत्त्वयोरेकाभावे अपरसत्त्वाश्यकत्वेन व्याघातात्,
a) If sattva (existence) is not present in a substratum, asattva
(non-existence) must automatically be present, and vice versa. Thus to say
that both are not present in a place is an impossibility.

निर्धर्मकब्रह्मवत्सत्त्वासत्त्वराहित्ये अपि सद्रूपत्वेन अमिथ्यात्वोपपत्त्या
b) The advaitin says that Brahman is nirdharmakam, it has no attributes.
Thus Brahman too is free from the attributes of existence and non
existence. Hence, Brahman too is a substratum where the attributes of
sattva and  asattva are absent. Brahman too is sadasat vilakshaNam, but
brahman is not mithyA. Therefore the world, which according to the advaitin
is sadasat vilakshaNam, is just like Brahman, which is sat.  The world ends
up being sat, not mithyA. Therefore, this sAdhya leads to the defect of
arthAntara, or proving something other than what is desired.
arthAntara is of two kinds -  अभिमतार्थ असिद्धिः  अनभिमतार्थ सिद्धि: - not
proving what one wants to prove, or proving something other than what you
want to prove. This is a case of the latter.

c) शुक्तिरूप्ये अबाध्यत्वरूपसत्त्वव्यतिरेकस्य सत्त्वेन बाध्यत्वरूप
असत्त्वस्य व्यतिरेक असिद्ध्या साद्धयवैकल्याच्च। The third defect is related
to the example given for mithyA, the illusion of the shell-silver. The
illusion of silver seen in the shell is sublated when the shell is seen.
Thus sat, which is of the nature of unsublatability, is absent in
shell-silver.  The absence of asat, of the nature of sublatability, is also
not proven, as shell-silver is sublated. Thus while sat is absent, asat is
not. Therefore, sadasatvilakshaNatva, the sAdhya, does not exist in shell

It is necessary for the sAdhya and hetu to be present in the drishTAnta, as
this allows the perceiver to conclude a vyApti, or invariable concomitance
between the hetu and sAdhya based on their co-presence in the example. That
is, if he cannot conclude that wherever the hetu is present, the sAdhya
must be necessarily present, he cannot use this rule to infer the presence
of the sAdhya in the paksha, by perceiving the presence of the hetu in the

The absence of sAdhya from the drishTAnta is a defect called

अत एव न तृतीय:, पूर्ववत्व्याघात्, अर्थान्तरात्साध्यवैकल्याच्च thus the
third option - where sattva abhAva is present together with asattva abhAva
- is not possible. Like the option before, it suffers from  a) vyAghAta -
the issue of impossibility, b) arthAntaram - the flaw of proving the
reality of the world and c) sAdhya vaikalya - the defect of the example not
having the sAdhya of mithyAtva.

Until now, we have looked at the arguments of the nyAyAmritakAra. How will
the siddhikAra respond? We will consider this in the next post.

To be continued.

The previous topic of pakshatAvacChedaka vichAra is available at:



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