[Advaita-l] looking for a comparative study on these two topics

Vikram Jagannathan vikkyjagan at gmail.com
Mon Apr 10 00:42:01 EDT 2023

…. contd …..

>> Let me clarify this further.

Before we look at further illustrations of your question, here are 2 simple
rules of thumb in Advaita:

Rule1: Experience: Any experience / knowledge (prama) that involves the
distinction of the triputi - experiencer / knower / subject (pramatru /
pramata), experienced / known / object (prameya) and the means of
experience / knowledge (pramana) is at best vyavaharika only.

Rule 2: Activity: Any activity - bodily actions or sensory perceptions or
mental emotions or intellectual thoughts - is at best vyavaharika only.

Armed with these rules, let’s evaluate your examples:

>> If someone says he had an experience of a deity and such a deity
appeared in front of him and gave him some ananda or bliss right here. Is
this in the same level of reality as experiencing some other experience
like flying or bungy jumping which is supposed to give some kind of a kick?

In these examples, there is clearly a distinction of a ‘person’
(worshipper) and the ‘deity’ (worshipped) or a ‘person’ experiencing some
‘ananda’ as a mental  emotion. This is similar to a ‘person’ ‘flying’ or
‘jumping’ as a bodily action and experiencing some ‘kick’ as a mental

>> In other words are there different levels of reality ascribed to
different experiences which are somewhat spiritual right here in this
world: for example, Thiru jnana Sambandar it seems was fed milk by divine
mother Parvati.

Based on the above rules, any experience (secular or spiritual) involving
any distinction whatsoever is only at best vyavaharika. The experience and
cognition of ‘this world’ is itself vyavaharika. So is the experience of
Thiru jnana Sambandar with Mother Parvati.

>> Is that experience as unreal as any other experience here (within the
sphere of relative reality)?

Now, the term ‘unreal’ is again subject to severe misunderstanding. Going
with Sanskrit words, if the intention is to question whether that
experience is mithya, then yes, it is as mithya as any other experience in
vyavaharika realm. But a deeper Advaitic point is that any and all
experiences are considered as real within their respective context. Even
the knowledge of a snake instead of a rope is definitely considered real
from the experiencer’s standpoint until it is later sublated by the
knowledge of the rope. This is included in the categorization of mithya.

>> Is the experience of Saguna brahman in some way,  and the experience of
a good movie here, at the same level of reality? (relatively real but
absolutely unreal? or non existing like an imaginary snake superimposed on
a rope?)

Firstly, the experience of a movie (as a movie) is vyavaharika too. It is
only when the movie is assumed to be ‘actual or real’ that it takes the
form of pratibhasika. Thus, the experience of Saguna Brahman is similarly

Secondly, the ‘imaginary snake’ is not non-existing (asat) because
otherwise it could not have been experienced. The imaginary snake is only
mithya. From the standpoint of the experiencer, the experience of the snake
(instead of a rope) is exactly as real as the experience of an actual
snake. The realization of its mithyatva is only on the realization of the
rope (and corresponding sublation of the snake knowledge).

Thirdly, per Advaita, any experience of Saguna Brahman is not a
hallucination or illusory or pratibhasika. There are several references in
our scriptures of perceiving Saguna Brahman / Isvara through direct sense
perceptions or mental intuitions or intellectual recognitions. All these
are definitely vyavaharika.

Though not part of the question, but quite relevant, fourthly, as you are
well aware, the concept of Saguna & Nirguna Brahman is quite deeper than
what it is typically taken. Brahman is one alone and not two. It is not
that attaining Saguna Brahman is different from or leads to attaining a
different Nirguna Brahman. Brahman is one and the same. Saguna or Nirguna
is only the perspective of the attainer.  To further explain, the
experience of Saguna Brahman or the realization (no longer an experience)
of Nirguna Brahman, refers to one and the same entity Brahman. Whether the
Brahman is Saguna, is not based on Brahman itself, but only (and purely)
based on the subjective person (the experiencer). When the experiencer
experiences Brahman through the antahkarana, the experience is of Brahman
with qualities - Saguna Brahman; the qualities being superimposed due to
antahkarana. Nirguna Brahman is a description of the realization of Brahman
transcending any individuality or antahkarana.

Lastly, perceiving Saguna Brahman - Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva - as distinct
aspects, with distinctions in name / form / function is indeed vyavaharika.
In an over-simplifying example, perceiving a ring, chain and bangle as
distinct pieces of jewelry, with different name, form, function is like
perceiving Saguna Brahman. On the other hand, realizing them all as only
gold is realization of Nirguna Brahman.

I respectfully defer the more formal / technical aspects to other respected
members and erudite scholars of Sanskrit & Advaita.

with humble prostrations,

On Sun, Apr 9, 2023 at 11:38 PM Vikram Jagannathan <vikkyjagan at gmail.com>

> Namaskaram Shri Krishna Swami,
> Deferring formal (technical) definitions; And with the fear of preaching
> to the choir or sounding condescending, here are some thumb-rules, in my
> humble opinion, for your questions:
> >> substance attribute relationship in Advaita and comparison with other
> vedantic schools or in other words "guna-guni bhava" or "dharma-dharmi
> bhava"
> Substance / nature (svarupa): qualities that are inseparable and
> indistinct from the entity: "is-ness" relationship: no svagata bhedha
> Attribute (viseshana): qualities that are inseparable but distinct from
> the entity: "has-ness" relationship: implies svagata bhedha - same as guna
> & dharma
> My personal definition - researching if this matches or conflicts with any
> traditional acharya's definition:
> Nature or svarupa: qualities that directly identifies a species (svarupa
> lakshana) or distinguishes one species from another (vijatiya) - example,
> cow vs horse
> Attribute or viseshana: qualities that relatively identifies a species
> (thatastha lakshana) or distinguishes within a species (sajatiya) -
> example, brown horse vs white horse
> Advaita's Brahman has no sajatiya or vijatiya or svagata bheda whatsoever.
> More details have been provided by other respected members.
> >> what is sublatability? Sat is defined as that which is not-sublatable.
> I need a serious in depth explanation of what sublatability is?
> Sublation: In general terms, the change of a specific cognition or
> cognitive knowledge of an object with respect to time or space or realm of
> reality is called sublation.
> In another definition, sublation is the process that renders the previous
> cognition as a false cognition. False cognition is that which is not the
> true cognition. True cognition of an object is the cognition of an object
> as is it; it is based on the object itself.
> In other words, cognition of “that as that” is true cognition; cognition
> of “that as not that” is false cognition; realization of the previous
> cognition as a false cognition is called sublation of the previous
> cognition.
> A more technical definition of “badha” is given in Vedanta Paribhasha
> Ch-1. Deeper discussion will also involve the definitions of Mithyatva
> (particularly the 2nd) in AdvaitaSiddhi.
> A wonderful article by our Acharya Shri Sadaji:
> http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/definitions/bAdha3.htm
> >> Is adhyaropa apavada some kind of step-by-step process of sublation?
> Yes, it can be seen as a 2-step (or 4-step) process for the explanation or
> understanding of the true nature of reality. Adhyaropa is the deliberate
> superimposition and apavada is a negation of the superimposition.
> Essentially, for the observed experiences / phenomenon, taken for granted
> as effects, a cause-effect relationship is built or explained by connecting
> the effects with the ‘source’ cause. This is adhyaropa. In the next step,
> the entire effect, along with the cause-effect relationship, is completely
> negated; leaving the pure source alone (bereft of even its aspect as a
> cause, in the absence of effects). This is apavada. There is a whole lot
> deeper discussion as to why such a tactic is required & established, and
> how this is the only logical way to explain the advaitic nature of absolute
> reality.
> Here are couple of wonderful introductory articles:
> From advaita-vedanta site:
> https://www.advaita-vedanta.in/adhyaropa-apavada
> Article by our Shri Subbuji:
> http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/adhyaropa_subrahmanian.htm
> >> Are there just 2 levels of reality mainly  (vyavaharika and
> paramarthika) in advaita?
> There are 3 fundamental levels of reality in Advaita. They are
> paramarthika (absolute), vyavaharika (transactional or day-to-day),
> pratibhasika (illusory). Pratibhasika can be seen as a nested sub-aspect of
> vyavaharika. The term ‘level’ is subject to severe misunderstandings.
> Essentially, it boils down to this: all knowledge / experience is
> considered contextually real; if the knowledge / experience involves
> adhyasa, it is vyavaharika real. If it transcends adhyasa, it is
> avyavaharika or paramarthika real. One of the easiest ways to realize the
> levels of reality is the perspectives. For example, in a limited context,
> cognizing a pot as a pot is vyavaharika, but realizing the pot as clay
> alone is paramarthika. In this example, the entity remaining one and the
> same, it is a matter of our perception whether as the name / form or as the
> substratum. Other popular examples of different perspectives are the states
> of waking & dream, rope as a snake etc.
> A great summarization by our Shri Subbuji:
> https://www.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2010-February/023739.html
> >> If so, does adhyaropa apavada, or even neti neti process accept many
> levels of reality since one level is sublated to get to the other? Or it
> will be a flat acceptance of the same level of reality for all experiences
> within the realm of vyavaharika satya (or duality of some kind).
> ”Net neti” is an example of adhyaropa apavada (as demonstrated in the
> above advaita-vedanta site reference). This involves the two levels of
> reality - vyavaharika & paramarthika. Whether there is any inclusion of
> pratibhasika is quite inconsequential, as it is negated by the negation of
> vyavaharika. The fact that adhyaropa involves a deliberate superimposition,
> this is at best vyavaharika perspective. Apavada, in turn, negates the
> entirety of vyavaharika, explaining the paramarthika perspective to the
> best of its ability. It is important to keep in mind that even the term
> ‘paramarthika’ (or ‘avyavaharika’ as in Mandukya Upanishad) is only to
> contrast and differentiate from the day-to-day ‘vyavaharika’ perspective.
> With the negation of apavada, Brahman alone is; even the characterization
> as ‘paramarthika’ is only superficial.
> Here are a couple of wonderful articles by respected Shri Vidyasankarji.
> Detailed but subject to further discussion / debate: (
> https://ramanuja.org/sri/BhaktiListArchives/Article?p=all94%2F0013.html)
> Short and precise: [saguNa, nirguNa brahman and Shankara](
> https://www.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/1996-August/005195.html
> )
> .... contd .....

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