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

Vikram Jagannathan vikkyjagan at gmail.com
Sat Dec 23 21:12:41 EST 2023

Namaskaram Shri Bhaskar ji,

Before we continue on the main thread, I would like to understand the
extent we are aligned on the fundamentals of Advaita. Below, I have
mentioned my current understanding in a sequential order. Please let me
know if you agree with these points or not. If you disagree with any point,
please stop there and do not proceed until we discuss that particular point
and come to an agreement.

I would like to open this discussion to the entire group and request others
to share & contribute their agreements / disagreements. I have
deliberately kept the explanations for these statements to a minimum. If we
agree to the statement, but have different explanations / reasons for
arriving at that, that's fine; we will get an opportunity to clarify as we
go deeper.

With the right spirit and intention, we will have subsequent posts where we
continue to add more points.

1. The svarupa lakshana of Brahman is: existence (sat), real (satya),
consciousness (chit), knowledge (jnana), bliss (ananda), eternal (nitya),
infinite (anadi & ananta), full (purna), partless (avyaya), homogeneous
(eka rasa), immutable (kutastha), unchanging (avikara), pure (suddha),
devoid of any differentiation whatsoever (sajatiya, vijatiya, svagata
2. Per ekam-eva-advitiyam, there is no sajatiya or vijatiya or svagata
bheda, whatsoever, in Brahman
3. Per neha-nanasti-kinchana, there is no plurality or ‘other’ or something
‘else’ whatsoever in Brahman
4. An infinite homogeneous partless immutable entity cannot have any
attributes (viseshana), since an attribute is defined as a quality that is
inseparable but distinct from the substance, and there cannot be any
distinction in a completely abheda homogenous entity
5. This Brahman is designated as nirvisesha Brahman for the sake of
6. Any quality associated with Brahman, that has in context or in relation
something ‘else’, is only a tatastha lakshana of Brahman. This includes
qualities such as sarvajna, sarvasakthi, sarveshvara,
creator-sustainer-destroyer of the universe, antaryami, witness, being the
locus for something else, etc.
7. These qualities are the attributes (viseshana) of Brahman and are
distinct manifestations
8. Their relationship with Brahman is that of attribute-substance or
shakti-shaktivan or possessed-possessor. In all these cases, they are
inseparable but distinct from Brahman.
9. Brahman described as possessing these qualities is designated as
savisesha Brahman for the sake of convenience
10. Ontologically, sat is that which once ascertained as existing always
remains unchanged across all time. Nirvisesha Brahman is sat.
11. Ontologically, asat is that which is never experienced as existing.
Hare’s horn is asat.
12. Ontologically, mithya is that which is neither sat nor asat nor both
(sadasat-vilakshana) - it appears to exist but later sublated. The universe
of plurality, the viseshanas & sakthis of savisesha Brahman, snake on a
rope, rope itself, mirage, double-moon are all examples of this mithya
category. If you do not agree with this definition, please clarify what is
the ontological status of a mithya entity.
13. Anirvachaniya explicitly means the entity cannot be specifically
described as sat or as asat or as both simultaneously - the reason why an
object may appear to exist but later sublated. There may be other
definitions, but if you do not agree with this definition, please clarify
what is the right definition of anirvachaniya and if anirvachaniya is sat
or asat or both or something else?
14. If the above two points are in agreement, then the ontological status
of anirvachaniya is mithya
15. In our current ignorance we believe the entire perceived universe of
plurality and change has an independent existence. What is the actual
ontological status of the universe and what is the ontological status of
the universe as we believe it to be in our ignorance? Both mithya?
16. But let’s say that through shastra and sadhana, we gain the knowledge
that this universe is only a nama-rupa change of Brahman and is completely
dependent on Brahman. What now becomes the actual ontological status of the
universe and the ontological status of our perception of the universe?
Still both mithya?
17. Does the nitya-suddha-buddha-mukta-svarupa nirvisesha Brahman perceive
or cognize the universe? Answer is no?
18. Is there the perception of this universe for the savisesha Brahman?
Answer is yes?
19. Do you believe that, per “brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati”, a knower of
Brahman (jnani) verily becomes (is) Brahman? Is this savisesha Brahman or
nirvisesha Brahman? Answer is nirvisesha Brahman?
20. Does this knower of Brahman perceive or cognize the universe? Answer is
21. In Adhyasa Bhashya, right after stating the first definition of adhyasa
as “smriti rupa …”, Bhagavan bhashyakara explains various theories of how
adhyasa could occur. After the last theory, bhagavatpada states in the
sentence “sarvathapi tu…” that the one common mechanism in adhyasa is
“cognition of one thing having the qualities of another”.
22. Various later acharyas have called this particular section of the
Bhashya as explanation of “khyati-vada (theory of error)”. Bhagavan
bhashyakara calls this error (khyati) itself as adhyasa.
23. “Khyati”, as related to an incorrect cognition, is a term used in
pre-Sankara period itself, such as PatajaliYogaSutra-2.5.
24. Various later acharyas, in their sub-commentaries, have explained that
the common mechanism (sarvathapi tu ...) stated in the bhashya is the
universal concept of “anirvachaniya khyati”.
25. Anirvachaniya, also because the various khyati vada can be broadly
categorized as sat-khyati, asat-khyati or sat-asat-khyati. Bhagavatpada’s
common explanation is an underlying thread amongst all these khyati vada.
Hence it transcends being exclusively described as sat or asat or sat-asat.
26. In answering the question on how there can be a superimposition between
light & dark or ‘I’ and ‘thou’, bhashyakara says that nevertheless
(tathapi) this is a natural worldly experience of coupling the real & unreal
27. Though of mutually conflicting attributes and a logical impossibility,
bhashyakara still says that adhyasa is still a common observation in the
world and only explains it as a 'natural' (naisargikah) phenomenon.
Implying that this phenomenon cannot be exactly described or is thus
28. This natural phenomenon is adhyasa
29. This adhyasa is also later termed as avidya
30. The entire gamut of loka vyavahara (secular and religious) depends on
this adhyasa or is the effect of this adhyasa
31. Since adhyasa is also avidya, the entire gamut depends on and is the
effect of this avidya
32. Since this natural phenomenon is anirvachaniya, the exact explanation
for adhyasa or avidya is anirvachaniya
33. In other words, Adhyasa as a term is described as “atasmin tad buddhi”.
But, how or why adhyasa take place in a certain way cannot be exactly
34. Examples of this anirvachaniya adhyasa are shell silver, double moon,
rope snake, mirage, colored crystal, red hot iron ball, ‘I’-ness and
‘mine’-ness with BMI and objects
35. In all these examples, the resulting entity, the result of adhyasa, is
distinct from the true object; and the true object doesn’t actually contain
all the perceived qualities of the resulting entity
36. For example, when a rope is perceived as a snake, there is actually no
snake whatsoever in the rope. The qualities of the snake are superimposed
on the rope and the rope appears as the snake.
37. Prior to the perception of the rope as the snake, while the rope is
perceived as the snake, after the true cognition of the rope as a rope,
across all these periods, there is never actually a snake in the rope
38. The superimposed qualities, which actually are not present in the
actual object, only appears to be present in the object during adhyasa
39. As long as the resulting adhyasa entity is perceived to be so, the
entity is considered as real and existing
40. But on the dawn of true discriminative knowledge, the true nature and
qualities of the actual object is perceived as-is
41. At this point the earlier cognition of the adhyasa entity is understood
to be false and not actually present in the actual object
42. Because the adhyasa entity is actually not present in the actual
object, the adhyasa entity cannot be called as sat
43. At the same time, because the adhyasa entity was experienced as
existing prior to dawn of true knowledge, the adhyasa entity cannot be
called as asat
44. Obviously the adhyasa entity cannot be both sat and asat simultaneously
due to mutual contradiction
45. Thus the ontological status of the adhyasa entity is neither sat nor
asat nor both (sadasat-vilakshana). The adhyasa entity is mithya
46. Since adhyasa is also called avidya, avidya too is only mithya
47. Since adhyasa or avidya is anirvachaniya, mithya too is anirvachaniya
48. Anirvachaniya is sadasat-vilakshana
49. Nirvisesha Brahman is perceived as savisesha Brahman due to adhyasa. In
other words, the viseshanas are superimposed on Brahman
50. When adhyasa is overcome, the nirvisesha Brahman is realized as-is

with humble prostrations,

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