[Advaita-l] ***UNCHECKED*** Re: [advaitin] rope has some problem in rope snake analogy :-)

Vikram Jagannathan vikkyjagan at gmail.com
Wed Dec 20 12:32:38 EST 2023

Namaskaram Shri Bhaskar ji,

Thanks for sharing more details.

> I am taking 'problem' to mean something different from the as-is true
> nature of that entity. Could you please clarify what problem is said to
> exist in the seen rope by others?
> Ø     According to some, rope is the product of mUlAvidyA, after
> realizing that it is rope not snake, the avidyA with regard to snake will
> ‘merge’ in ‘rope’ avidyA (mUlAvidyA) and complete annihilation (nishesha
> nirmUlana) happens ONLY after complete nAmAvashesha of nAma rUpa, hence
> antaHkaraNa, nAma rUpa etc. are the product of mulAvidyA recognizing the
> rope as rope is NOT jnana as rope is the product of mUlAvidyA or rOpe (nAma
> and rUpa) itself mUlAvidyA!!
I do not wish to go deep into the validity of mula-avidya (or not);
however, would like to state a couple of points for more reflection.

1. Within the context of the illustration: jnana of snake = pratibhasika
jnana; jnana of rope = vyavaharika jnana; ajnana of rope as snake = earlier
pratibhasika jnana with respect to later vyavaharika jnana; purely from
vyavaharika perspective, there is no jnana or ajnana of snake; the very
conversation of 'snake' is only with respect to the pratibhasika

Similarly, jnana of rope = vyavaharika jnana; Brahman Jnana = paramarthika
jnana; ajnana of rope = earlier vyavaharika jnana with respect to later
paramarthika jnana; purely from paramarthika perspective, there is no jnana
or ajnana of rope; the very conversation of 'rope' is only with respect to
the vyavaharika perspective.

He who remembers the earlier cognition of snake and later cognition of rope
alone can talk about the ajnana; There is no ajnana in pure vyavaharika.
Similarly, he who remembers the earlier cognition of rope and later
realization of Brahman alone can talk about the ajnana; There is no ajnana
in pure paramarthika.

2. It is accepted by all Advaitins that the 'phenomenon & perception' of
duality is only an 'appearance' in Brahman and that there is no actual
duality whatsoever in Brahman (neha nanasti kinchana). Anyone who feels
there is actual duality in Brahman breaks the fundamental premise of
Advaita to begin with!

This means there is some 'X'-factor that is not actually present in
Brahman, but only 'appears' to be in Brahman and results in the 'phenomenon
& perception' of duality in an otherwise One & non-dual Brahman.
Mula-avidya-vadins call this 'X'-factor as mula-avidya as the cause and the
entire 'phenomenon & perception' of duality as its effect. Now, since in
our sampradhayam an effect is non-different from the cause, it is said the
'phenomenon & perception' of all plurality, including the rope, is
non-different from this mula-avidya. In this sense, the rope is
fundamentally non-different from mula-avidya itself.

This 'X'-factor can be substituted with any other term one chooses, but in
my understanding the concept - the rope is non-different from this
'X'-factor - remains the same. When this 'X'-factor is sublated (taranti)
the ekam-eva-advitiya nitya-suddha-buddha-mukta-svarupa Brahman is directly

> There are definitely characteristics of the rope that bring about the
> remembrance of an earlier perceived snake. Adhyasa also is mutual, implying
> some of the characteristics of the rope are superimposed on the imagined
> snake as well. But none of this should be a 'problem' within the rope
> itself per-se.
> Ø     As per some theory, There are two different types of jnana should
> occur before realizing that there is rope and not snake i.e. vrutti vyApti
> jnana (pramANa bhUta jnana) and phala vyApti jnana (phala bhUta jnana)
>  coz. brahmAshrita avidyA has two special powers (shakti) one is
> encompasses the brahman (sva-svarUpa) and some part of the same avidyA
> covers and projects the outer things also like a black solid screen
> covering the objects behind it.  In this sense rope (an external thing and
> yathArtha jnana of this rope) too is covered by some part of the avidyA.
> Just removal of jnAnAdhyAsa is not enough there should be a removal of
> arthAdhyAsa as well.

Agreed that this is one theory. Vritti-vyapti and phala-vyapti refer to
inner workings / etymology of perception in general. Jnana-adhyasa and
artha-adhyasa refers to the inner workings of adhyasa. Do you have a
different theory for deep etymology of perception and how adhyasa works?

> Apart from the sat-khyati-vadins, for all others there is not an iota of
> the snake in the rope. What actually exists is just the true nature of the
> rope as-is.
> Ø     Anirvachaneeya khyAti vAdins would argue that there was some
> anirvachaneeya snake in rope and that is the reason why we trembled,
> sweated and ran away!!  Hence avidyA is anirvachaneeya!!.

Agreed. However, the trembling etc. is applicable to all khyati-vadins; it
is not unique to anirvachaniya-khyati-vadins. Everyone also agrees to the
'perception' of an 'existing' snake. The difference is in how, where & why.
I am assuming there is no disagreement on this point.

Now, personally deliberately side-stepping the controversy around
adhyasa/avidya, let me ask this question: do you agree that mithyatva is
anirvachaniya? Meaning, that which is considered as mithya is neither sat
nor asat nor both? Also, do you agree that Brahman alone is satya and
everything else that is believed to be existing is mithya? If so, do you
agree that whatever is called 'avidya', that is distinct from Brahman, is
also mithya? If so, the nature of 'avidya' is anirvachaniya? If you
disagree on any of these, please kindly explain. I am just trying to see if
we are all aligned at this level or not; it sets a common ground. The rest
of difference of opinions, IMHO, is down to semantics and understanding,
which I do not wish to enter into.

with humble prostrations,

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