[Advaita-l] Definition of sAkshI

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Wed Feb 7 20:59:54 EST 2024

Namaste Sudhanshu ji,

I'm afraid this conversation may have gotten a little too technical.
Therefore, I suggest winding it up here, as it may not be of benefit to
most - in fact, I suspect it may have already had the unwanted effect of
irritating sincere seekers. In the future, it may be prudent to keep
excessively technical discusisons (such as this one) offline - you have my
email address.

However, with a view of not leaving you hanging - I have presented my
understanding below. Please take it with the caveat that I am trying to
figure out many things myself, so this is by no means the definitive (or
even a correct) set of answers to the questions you have posed.

1) The clearest definition of sAkshi in the advaita siddhi in my opinion
occurs in the second paricCheda in the chapter brahmaNah
jnAnatvAdyupapattih - the tenability of Brahman having jnAnatva etc. Here,
the siddhikAra defines sAkshi as
avidyA-tatkArya-anyatara-pratiphalita-caitanyasyaiva sAkshitvAt. That is,
sAkshi is the reflection of consciousness in avidyA or avidyAvRtti.

2) As far as I am aware, the siddhikAra uses the terms avidyA-upahita and
avidyA-pratibimbita interchangeably.

3) The text's position is that there is only one sAkshi that is common to
all jIva-s. The siddhikAra says - साक्षिणः सर्वजीवसाधारण्येऽपि
तत्तज्जीवचैतन्याभेदेनाभिव्यक्तस्य तत्तदुःखादिभासकतया अतिप्रसङ्गाभावात् -
even though the sAkshi is common to all the jIva-s, when each individual
jIva-chaitanya (i.e where the jIva defined as consciousness with the
intellect as its upAdhi) attains identity with that one sAkshi, it
illuminates that jIva's mental states such as sadness etc - only to him,
and not to others.

Some of the specifics have been answered, briefly.

> 1. Is rajatAkArA-avidyA-vritti required for illusory-rajata-jnAna?
 Yes. See earlier email for reasoning/ references.

> 2. Is sukhAkArA-avidyA-vritti required for sukha-jnAna?
No. See earlier email for reasoning/ references.

> 3. Is ahamkArA-avidyA-vritti required for aham-jnAna?
a) ahamAkAravRtti is avidyAvRtti only, as per the Advaita Siddhi commentary
on the vivaraNa statement shared by you in the earlier email, pasting here
for ready reference. तदुक्तं विवरणे–‘जीवाकाराहंवृत्तिपरिणतान्तःकरणेन
जीवोऽभिव्यज्यत' इति । अस्यार्थः–जीवाकाराहंत्वप्रकारकाविद्यावृत्तिः, तया
परिणतान्तकरणेनान्तःकरणपरिणामभूतज्ञानरूपवृत्तिसंसर्गेण जीवोऽभिव्यज्यत इति ।
See laghuchandrikA commentary for further clarity.

b) In general, for the sAkhi to know avidyAvRtti there is no need for
another avidyAvRtti. As the siddhikAra says elsewhere,
अविद्यावृत्तिप्रतिभासके चैतन्ये अविद्यावृत्तेः स्वत एव उपाधित्वेन

c) If a) and b) are true, the conclusion is that a separate
ahamkAra-jnAna-vRtti is not needed to know ahamkAra - the avidyAvRtti which
forms a component of the ahmkAra, is itself sufficient.

> 4. Is avidyAkArA-avidyA-vritti required for avidyA-jnAna?
> No, for the same reason.

> 5. In pratibhAsa-kalpaka-samAna-kAlIna-kalpaka-vattvam, who is
> avidyA-kalpaka and who is avidyA-pratibhAsa-kalpaka (i.e.
> avidyA-jnAna-kalpaka)? [As per my understanding, avidyA-kalpaka =
> avidyA-upahita-chaitanya, avidyA-pratibhAsa-kalpaka =
> avidyA-vritti-pratibimbita-chaitanya]
The laghuchandrikA defines
pratibhAsa-kalpaka-samAna-kAlIna-kalpaka-vattvam as
sva-viShayaka-janyadhI-kAlatva-vyApya-svadraShTRkatvam - the object having
a seer which is present contemporaneously with the rise of the vRtti that
objectifies the object. Here the seer is sAkshi.

I don't believe that an avidyAvRtti is needed for the cognizance of avidyA
by the sAkshi. So, the test of sAditvam, having a beginning - *ie avidyA
having a seer which is present contemporaneously with the rise of the vRtti
objectifying avidyA* - is not met, because there is no requirement for a
vRtti to arise for the sAkshi to know avidyA. Therefore, avidyA does not
have a seer that is contemporaneous with a vRtti that objectifies avidyA,
in order for the seer to cognise it. Thus avidyA is not sAdi, it is anAdi.

Alternatively, if you want to hold that there is a requirement for an
avidyAvRtti for the sAkshi to know avidyA, the laghuchandrikA says that as
such an avidyAvRtti is not present in pralaya, avidyA does not meet the
test for sAditva - *in pralaya, avidyA does not have a seer which is
present contemporaneously with the rise of a vRtti objectifying avidyA *-
thus, in this view too, avidyA is not sAdi, it is anAdi.

> 6. What is the primary definition of sAkshI accepted by Advaita-Siddhi?
> See the introduction to this email. As this is the central question of
this thread, I have answered it up front.

With this, I am going to step back from the discussion as I have got a
backlog of things I need to catch up on, both spiritual and personal. Hope
that is all right.

Kind regards,


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