[Advaita-l] [advaitin] 'Dvaita accepts body-adhyasa'

Vinodh vinodh.iitm at gmail.com
Wed Oct 27 08:13:43 EDT 2021

Sri Srinath ji,

Thank you for your excellent points on body-self adhyasa and on pramana
from the Dvaita perspective! I really enjoyed reading them :)

I will summarize my understanding of your main points and attempt to
address each of them from an Advaita perspective. I also look forward to
reading the responses to these points from other scholars.

Below is my understanding of your main points against the standpoint of
Advaita from the Dvaita perspective:

1. pramatrtva (knowership) is denied to the Self by Shankara but this
cannot be so because adhyasa implies that there is a pramatr (knower) on
whom the body-mind are being superimposed? Therefore, prmatrtva to the Self
must be accepted.

2. pramanatvam of sruti must also be acknolwedged becaused it only through
sruti that the existence of the Self is known

3. any pramana provided in support of the Dvaita position which can be
accepted by an Advaitin must naturally be accepted as valid and existing,
regardless of the details of the pramana

4. on the other hand, by claiming that the pramana-prameya-pramatrtva are
avidya kruta and hence unreal, the Advaitin's position does not stand on
firm ground (having negated the very prameya using which any claims can be

5. Sruti vaakyas in support of Dvaita position "Satya aatma, satyo jivaha,
satyam bhidaa satyam bhidaa satyam bhidaa" etc.

Below is my attempt at addressing the above points from an Advaita
perspective based on my limited understanding of this philosophy:

1. In Advaita, the pramatr (knower) is typically understood to be the
individual Jiva. This Jiva, whose true form is the Atma (Self), is unaware
of its true form and considers itself to be an individual self (Jivaatma)
separate from other similar individuals. It is just like a rope when not
seen to be.a rope is seen to be something else like a snake or a stream of
water etc. The adhyaasa of the prana, mind, senses on the Atma is what
results in a Jivaatma (individual self). On top of it, several other
adhyaasas are made, like a body is superimposed as "This is mine" and so
are one's relatives, properties, successes, failures, etc. The pramatrtvam
of a Jiva is because of its true form being the Atma. One of Atma's
defining characteristics is Jnanam (Satyma-Jnanam-Anantam Brahma,
Taittiriya Upanishad), which is understood to be the ability to cognize
(consciousness). However, from a fundamental paramarthika perspective,
there is nothing to be cognized outside the Atma. The Atma out of its maya
(which results in avidya) appears as a Jiva and also as several other
objects, just like the rope appears as a snake, a stream of water, a crack
in the ground, etc.. This makes the pramana-prameya-pramtr-triad (as the
object-senses/mind-jivaatma) appear and cognize itself as various things.
All this happens within the maya, whereas the Atma is truly unaffected by
any of it. It does not know anything else other than itself (e.g., shruti
says "where one see nothing else, hears nothing else, knows nothing else,
that is bhooma (biggest, referring to Brahman); where one sees something
else, hears something else, knows something else, that is alpam (small,
referring to the limiting adjuncts like mind, body, etc. that make up
jivaatma, jagat etc.)). It is in this sense that Shankaracharya has said
that the Atma does not have pramatrtva even though its very essence is
cognizing / consciousness (satyam-jnanam-anantham). But the Jivaatma does
have pramatrtva due to its upaadhi (limiting adjunct / conditioning) as a
separate entity out of its avidya.

2. Sruti is also accepted to be part of this maya which is perceived only
under avidya. Therefore, it does have pramanatvam under avidya from a
vyavaharika perspective, but it has no independent existence from a
paramarthika perspective, just like the illusory snake does not have an
independent existence without the underlying rope. If one asks 'how can one
say that sruti is a pramana (valid means of knowledge) if it is part of
avidya', it is similar to how one may be woken up from a dream by something
happening in a dream. Of course, what happens in the dream is unreal, but
it could still lead to the person waking up from the dream and realizing
that what happened was a dream. In the same way, Advaita considers sruti to
be a pramana which is part of this dream of Jagat which leads to one's
awakening to one's true form which is the Atma.

3. Any pramana offered by a Dvaitin or otherwise is naturally accepted by
an Advaitin as valid and existing as vyavaharika satyam within this maya.
Just like in one's dream, one assumes that all of one's pramanas are real
and existing and uses it to observe, infer, and interact with dream
objects, in this Jagat also (which Advaita considers to be just a dream),
one uses such pramanas for all vyavahara within this Jagat-dream. However,
these are only given the status of vyavaharika satyam. Just like once a
person wakes up, it is clear that everything seen earlier in the dream,
including all the dream-pramanas, were false, when one wakes up from the
dream of Jagat, one sees that the paaramarthika satyam (fundamental truth)
is advitiyam (without a second) and that all the pramanas and the dvaita
prapancha (like individual jivaatmas, panchabhootas, etc.) were equally
false from a paaramarthika perspective.

4. The above two points explain why Advaitins are able to still use the
pramana-prameya-pramatrtva to deduce their conclusions from a vyavaharika
perspective even though from a paramarthika perspective they are illusory.
Just like inferences drawn using dream pramanas can lead to one waking up,
the jagat-pramana can lead to one waking up from this Jagat-dream.

5. I am not familiar with the sruti passage. Perhaps some other scholars
here can shed light on the context of this passage and discuss how such
vakyas can be interpretted given the broader context.

In summary, Advaita accepts pretty much all of the Dvaitins positions as
vyavaharika satyam, however, from a fundamental (paramarthika) perspective,
the Truth is said to be without a second (advitiyam). This is nicely
captured by the last (twelfth) verse of the Mandukya Upanishad thus:

अमात्रश्चतुर्थोऽव्यवहार्यः प्रपञ्चोपशमः शिवोऽद्वैत एवमोङ्कार आत्मैव
संविशत्यात्मनाऽऽत्मानं य एवं वेद ॥ १२ ॥

amātraścaturtho'vyavahāryaḥ prapañcopaśamaḥ śivo'dvaita evamoṅkāra ātmaiva
saṃviśatyātmanā''tmānaṃ ya evaṃ veda || 12 ||

12. That which has no parts (soundless) (amātrah), incomprehensible (with
the aid of the senses) (avyavahāryaḥ), the cessation of all phenomena
(prapañcopaśamaḥ), all bliss (siva) and non-dual (advaita) Aum, is the
fourth and verily the same as the Ātman. He who knows this merges his self
in the Self.

Om tat sat 🙏

On Wed, Oct 27, 2021 at 1:01 AM Srinath Vedagarbha <svedagarbha at gmail.com>

> Dear Vindoh-ji,
> On Sat, Oct 16, 2021 at 11:16 PM Vinodh via Advaita-l <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>> Having summarized my understanding of the discussion thus far and having
>> reflected on it, it appears to me that assertion b. of Advaita (that all
>> pramana are unreal) can be established in two possible ways:
>> (1) using shabda pramana, e.g., sruti vaakya like 'ekam eva advitiyam'
>> (one
>> without a second), which implies that there is nothing other than A and
>> therefore that B is unreal, or
>> (2) without using shabda pramana , e.g., by using pure reasoning as
>> Gaudapadacharya does in the Vaitathya Prakarana of his Mandukyopanishad
>> Karika.
>> The first requires a person to accept scriptural authority, whereas the
>> second does not.
>> In contrast, I doubt if there exists anything that is in support of
>> assertion b. of Dvaita (that all pramana are real).
> What exactly do you mean by the term "support" in your above question?
> Are you looking for how Dvaitins provide any evidence(pramANa) in support
> of their position (of pramANas are real)?
> Whatever pramaNas Dvaitins may give you, they must necessarily be valid
> and existing. Otherwise how can you possibly accept them, right? If so,
> providing such real and valid pramANas itself proves their pramEya that
> "pramANas are real" irrespective of the details of such provided pramANas :)
> Anyways, Dvaitin's support is also from shruti  -- Satya Aatmaa, satyo
> jiivaha, satyam bhidaa satyam bhidaa satyam bhidaa," among many others
> regarding satyatva of jagat.
> Please note, since Dvaitin's position is that of 'pramANa-s are real',
> their quoting of Shruti, which itself a pramANa, and its reality status
> does not run counter to each other. In other words, pramEya and pramANa are
> of the same reality status. This is not the case with  Advaita. Their
> pramEya (that pramNa-pramEya-pramAtR^itva are avidya kruta and hence
> unreal) is counter to the reality status of the very evidence being used in
> the process.
> Regards,
> /sv

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