[Advaita-l] Advaita Siddhi series 009 - dvitIya mithyAtva vichAra: (part 1)

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Sat Sep 30 09:43:13 EDT 2017

On this auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami, I'm delighted to commence a
new chapter of advaita siddhi. May brahmavidyA, as embodied by umA
haimavati, destroy the demon of Atma ajnAna and enable us to realise our
true nature.

This chapter is an enquiry into the second definition of mithyAtva,
प्रतिपन्नोपाधौ त्रैकालिकनिषेधप्रतियोगित्वं. The absence of an object in all
three periods of time in the locus of its appearance is mithyAtva.

In the previous section, we considered the first definition of mithyAtva,
sadasat vilakshaNatvam, proposed by Sri PadmapAda, the panchapAdikAkAra.
The second and third definitions of mithyAtva were proposed by Sri
PrakAshAtma yati, in the panchapAdika vivaraNam, or vivaraNam in short,
which is a commentary on the panchapAdika.

The nyAyAmritakAra's arguments against the second definition are considered
प्रतिपन्नोपाधौ त्रैकालिकनिषेधप्रतियोगित्वं वा मिथ्यात्वं । The
counter-positive (pratiyogi) of the absence in all three periods of time in
the locus of its appearance is mithyA. In other words, the absence of an
object in all three periods of time in the very location in which it
appears is mithyAtva. We need to pay attention to three things in the
1) pratiyogi - the object that is mithyA
2) pratipanna upAdhi - the substratum in which it appears
3) traikAlika niShedha - the absolute absence - in all three periods of time

*The objections of the nyAyAmritakAra - the ontological status of the
absence*The refutation of this definition by the nyAyAmritakAra is around
the sattA, the degree of reality, of the absence. In the case of the
shuktirUpya, the shell-silver, the silver that appears is prAtibhAsika. The
shell is vyAvahArika. What is the degree of reality of the silver's absence
in the shell?

He asks:
ननु प्रतिपन्नोपाधौ त्रैकालिकनिषेधस्य तात्त्विकस्य अद्वैतहानिः,
प्रातिभासिकसत्त्वे सिद्धसाधनं, व्यवहारिकत्वेऽपि तस्य बाध्यत्वेन
तात्त्विकसत्त्वाविरोधतया अर्थान्तरं, अद्वैतश्रुतेरतत्त्वावेदकत्वं च
तत्प्रतियोगिनः अप्रातिभासिकस्य प्रपञ्चस्य पारमार्थिकत्वं च स्यात्  ।

ननु प्रतिपन्नोपाधौ त्रैकालिकनिषेधस्य तात्त्विकस्य अद्वैतहानिः If the
absence of the object in all three periods of time is pAramArthika, has
ultimate reality, then it contradicts advaita because there would be two
objects that have pAramArthika sat, ultimate reality - Brahman, and the
absence referred to here.

प्रातिभासिकसत्त्वे सिद्धसाधनं if the absence is prAtibhAsikam, then it is
proving that the world is real, which is my position. That is siddha
sAdhana. Take the example of an object, say a pot, which is actually
present, but due to some error in perception, it is not seen. In such
cases, the absence of the pot is prAtibhAsikam, but the pot itself has
existence. Therefore, by calling its absence as prAtibhAsikam, it ends up
proving the pratiyogi's reality.

व्यवहारिकत्वेऽपि तस्य बाध्यत्वेन तात्त्विकसत्त्वाविरोधतया अर्थान्तरं if the
absence is vyAvahArika, then by definition, it will be sublated. If the
negation itself is sublatable, it may not be able to disprove the ultimate
reality of the counterpositive. Thus the sublatability of the absence may
end up proving the reality of the thing which was considered absent. This
is a case of arthAntara, proving something other than what was intended. It
ends up proving the ultimate reality of the world.

To explain, if the absence is vyAvahArika, the pratiyogi cannot be
vyAvahArika - it is not possible for a thing and its absence to have the
same degree of reality and for the two to co-exist simultaneously in one
place, as that would be a contradiction, viruddham.  The advaitin does not
accept the naiyyAyika concept of avyApya vritti (discussed in the previous

However, it is possible for absence to be of a different degree of reality
than its pratiyogi. For example, the absence of the shell-silver in the
shell is vyAvahArika, but the shell silver is prAtibhAsika. The
shell-silver is absent when it appears. Similarly, as we saw in the
previous example, when the absence was taken as prAtibhAsikam, the pot was
vyAvahArika and its absence was prAtibhAsika. The pot is not seen despite
being present.

Therefore, the nyAyAmritakAra argues that if the absence of the world is
vyAvahArika, it is possible for the pratiyogi to have pAramArthika sattA,
as such an abhAva would not be contradictory to the pAramArthika sattvam of
its pratiyogi, the world. If the world is pAramArthika, it ends up proving
something other than what the advaitin wants, leading to arthAntara.

अद्वैतश्रुतेरतत्त्वावेदकत्वं च Further, it leads to advaita shruti teaching
unreal things. The advaitin claims that the mithyAtva of the world is on
the basis of shruti statements such as neha nAnAsti kinchana (there is no
multiplicity here). If the mithyAtva (the absence of the world) is really
vyAvahArika, then it is ultimately sublatable, ie such an absence is
mithyA. advaita shruti, which teaches this mithyA absence, is teaching an
unreal thing. The prAmANya of veda, the validity of what it is teaching is
itself called into question.

तत्प्रतियोगिनः अप्रातिभासिकस्य प्रपञ्चस्य पारमार्थिकत्वं च स्यात् - the
pratiyogi of the absence, which is the non-prAtibhAsika world, will end up
being pAramArthika.  If the abhAva of the world is vyAvhAhArika, what is
the nature of the world? It cannot be prAtibhAsika, because the advaitin
himself agrees it is not prAtibhAsika. If it is vyAvahArika, then both
abhAva and pratiyogi will be of the same order of reality, and that will be
a contradiction. Therefore it cannot be vyAvahArika. Therefore the only
option is pAramArthika.

*The reply of the siddhikAra - if the absence was pAramArthika*इति चेत् न
The siddhikAra says, if this is your argument, no.

He does not refute the option of abhAva having prAtibhAsika sattA because
that is not advaita siddhAnta. He takes up the first option, abhAva being

प्रपञ्चनिषेधाधिकारिणीभूतब्रह्माभिन्नत्वान्निषेधस्य तात्त्विकत्वेऽपि
नाद्वैतहानिकरत्वं What is the abhAva that is being talked about? The nature
of the absence of the world is the substratum, Brahman itself. If such an
abhAva is tAttvika, ie pAramArthika, that does not harm non-duality. When
shruti says neha nAnAsti kinchana, the "iha"- 'here', referred to is
brahman. Thus the negation is adhikaraNAtmakam. It is Brahman itself.

नच तात्त्विकाभावप्रतियोगिन: प्रपञ्चस्य तात्त्विकत्वापत्ति: Further, there
is no requirement that an abhAva that is pAramArthika needs to have a
pratiyogi that is pAramArthika. Thus, this does not lead to the world have
pAramArthika sattA. Why not?

तात्त्विकाभाविनि शुक्तिरजतादौ कल्पिते व्यभिचारात् because while the absence
of the shell silver is tAttvika (meaning vyAvahArika here), the shell
silver itself is prAtibhAsika. Thus, it is not necessary that the reality
of the absence implies the reality of the object.

Now, even though the siddhikAra has justified that abhAva can be
pAramArthika by arguing that abhAva is really the the substratum,
ultimately his view is that abhAva is vyAvahArika. The reason for this is
that every abhAva needs a pratiyogi. If the nature of abhAva is Brahma
svarUpa then what pratiyogi can there be? As Brahman is completely free of
relations of any kind, there can be no anuyogi-pratiyogi relation with

It is possible to address this objection by saying that it is possible for
the same vastu to have two different aspects - one with relations and one
without. Take Dasharatha for example. He is well known as Rama's father.
Therefore, the one and the same Dasharatha has dasharathatvam ("being
Dasharatha" and pitrtvam ("being a father"). One cannot talk about pitrtvam
without a relationship with the son, therefore the attribute of pitrtvam
has a relation inherent in it, whereas Dasharathatvam does not presuppose
any relations.

Similarly, when Brahman is talked of as the absence of the world, there is
an anuyogi-pratiyogi relationship between Brahman and the world. However,
as shuddha Brahman, it has no relations with anything. The purpose of
attributing the characteristic of the world's absence to Brahman is only
for the purpose of denying reality to the plurality that is the world.
Having served its purpose, the attribute is withdrawn.

Brahman endowed with atyantAbhAva, the absolute absence of the world, is
not pAramArthika because there is an expectation of a pratiyogi for such an
entity. Therefore, the siddhikAra's motive is not in establishing abhAva as
pAramArthika, it is only in meeting the pUrvapakshi's objection.

abhAva as vyAvahArika and its implications will be covered in the next post.

(To be continued)

Posts on the previous topic (prathama mithyAtva vichAra) are available

Kind regards,

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