advaita-siddhi 15 - BrahmavAda and shUnyavAda

BRIEF RECAP: MadhusUdana started by accepting the definition of unreality (of the world) as "pratipanna-upAdhau traikAlikanishhedha- pratiyogitvam.h" (please see advaita-siddhi 10). Unreality is that which is subject to absolute negation (negation for all times) in the substratum where it is cognized. Now the opponent tries to show that the unreality of the world defined by the advaitin actually amounts to admitting that the world is a chimera (a vastu-shUnya) or a purely fictitious thing that is only imagined, but without a real basis. Is the world according to advaita a vastu-shUnya, a mere nothing or is it something with a real basis? Let us find out.

[Other articles in this series may be retrieved by searching for "siddhi" in the subject line.]

advaita-siddhi text:

nanu evamatyanta-asattvApAtaH pratipannopAdhau traikAlikanishhedha-
pratiyogitvaM hyanyatra-asattvena saMpratipannasya ghaTAdeH sarvatra
traikAlikanishhedhapratiyogitvaM paryavasitam.h ; anyathA teshhAM anyatra
sattvApAtAt.h, nahi teshhAmanyatra sattA saMbhavatIti tvadukteshcha ;
tathAcha kathamasadvailaxaNyam.h, nahi shashashR^iNgAderito .anyad-


(Objection): Being the counter-positive (pratiyogin) of the absolute negation (for all three periods of time) in the very substratum where it (the thing that is unreal, mithyA) is cognized has thus been defined as being unreal (mithyA) (by you) and it is absolutely unreal (completely nonexistent). From this, it follows that things of the world, such as a pot, which are not existent in substrata other than where they are cognized, are eternally negated in all substrata! Otherwise, they would have to be existent in substrata other than where they are cognized. (But) you have said that they do not exist in other substrata. Accordingly, how is it that they (things of the world) are different from nonexistence (asat)? This (the world) is certainly not different
from purely nonexistent things such as a hare's horn, (according to your view).

The gist of the argument here is that if the unreality of a thing consists in its being negated absolutely (for all periods of time) in the very substratum where it was cognized, then it must be admitted that such a thing is negated absolutely everywhere. Otherwise, it would mean the thing appears somewhere other than the substratum where it was cognized. But this is denied by the advaitin. Therefore, the unreal thing stands negated everywhere and for all times. So it is no different than a chimera which is also absolutely absent everywhere.

advaita-siddhi text:

nacha nirupAkhyatvameva tadasattvam.h; nirupAkhyatvapadenaiva
khyAyamAnatvAt.h | nApyapratIyamAnatvamasattvam.h; asato .apratI-
tau asadvailaxaNyaGYAnasya-asatpratItinirAsasya-asatpadaprayogasya
chAyogAt.h | nacha-aparoxatayA apratIyamAnatvaM tat.h; nitya-


(Objection continued:) Nonexistence (asat) cannot be undefinable (nirupAkhya). Because, (the moment you say it is nirupAkhya), it becomes defined by the (very) word nirupAkhya! Nor can you say asat is what cannot be cognized. If asat were not cognized then there would be no cognition of anything that is different from asat. And there would be no sublation of cognition of a non-existent thing. And it would not be possible to use the word "asat". Further, you cannot define asat as that which is not cognized as being directly perceived because this would make the definition too wide (having the defect of ativyApti) due to the inclusion of eternal but supra-sensuous things.

iti chenmaivam.h |

If this is what you say, we say no (ie. your objection is not justified).

We will see how MadhusUdana answers this in the next part. But first, let us see what BrahmAnanda (the GauDabrahmAnandI commentary) has to say here. Essentially what the opponent is claiming here is that even a chimera (alIka) that is absolutely false (fictitious such as a hare's horns) is also the ontological status of the world as per the second definition of mithyAtva of the advaitin. If the claim holds, then we will have proved that the world is not sadasad-vilaxaNa, different from sat and asat, but rather purely asat. In that case, the advaitin will have proved something other than what he intended to in the first place, thereby committing the fault of arthAntara.

GauDabrahmAnandI -

BrahmAnanda cites the Yoga sUtra of Patanjali:

shabdaGYAnAnupAtI vastushUnyo vikalpa - Yoga sUtra

Vikalpa is the chitta-vR^itti that is devoid of any real object and that arises from the word (shabda) and cognition (GYAna).

Patanjali lists five kinds of chitta-vR^itti's or modifications of the mind - 1) pramANa, vR^itti arising from means to right knowledge, 2) viparyaya, vR^itti arising from misconception or illusion, 3) vikalpa, vR^itti arising from purely imaginary things, 4) nidrA, vR^itti during sleep, and 5) smR^iti, vR^itti arising from memory.

The three factors to be considered in any cognition arising from words are 1) shabda, the word, 2) artha, the denotation of the word, and 3) GYAna (or vR^itti), cognition that results from the word.

What happens in the case of a vikalpa such as that associated with a purely fictitious thing expressed by words such as "shashashR^inga" or "hare's horn" is that we hear the word alright and there is some cognition produced in the mind, but there is no corresponding denotation. We cannot point out a thing in the world that represents the word "hare's horn."

On the other hand when we hear the word "gauH" or "cow", apart from the shabda that we hear and the cognition of the word or the vR^itti in the mind, there is also a denotation of the word, the object which is indeed a cow.

To be more precise, every word or shabda may have associated with it a *representation* in the mind of the listener. Further, there may also be a denotation of the word which represents the actual object that corresponds to the word. In the case of a chimera (alIka), however, there may be a word and its representation in the mind, but there is no denotation or correspondence with an object.

This counters the objection by the opponent who says that a chimera may be expressed by words (ie. is upAkhya), and has a cognition (chitta-vR^itti) corresponding to it. What brahmAnanda is saying is that surely these two aspects will be there for even a chimera but it is vastu-shUnya, ie. devoid of any denotation, devoid of any real basis.

ataeva "vR^ittayaH paJNchatayyaH pramANaviparyayavikalpanidrA-
smR^itaya" iti vR^ittiGYAnAnAM paJNchadhA vibhAgena viparyaya-
rUpAt.h sadrUpa-adhishhThAnavishhayakAt.h bhramAtpArthakyena
vikalpaH pAtaJNjalasUtra evoktaH |

It is precisely for this reason that Patanjali's Yoga sutra says that the chitta-vR^ittis are of five kinds - pramANa or right knowledge, viparyaya or misconception, vikalpa or imagination, nidrA or sleep, and smR^iti or memory, and thus distinguishes between viparyaya which is (the same as) bhrama (illusion) with Reality (sat) as the basis (adhishhThAna), and vikalpa.

(viTThalesha-upAdhyAyI commentary on the gauDabrahmAnandI) -

nanu bhramasyApi sadavishhayakatva-avisheshhe kathaM vikalpaH pR^ithagityata Aha sadrUpeti |
idaM rajatamiti bhrame .api shuktyavachchhinnachaitanyarUpaM sadevedantvena bhAsata iti bhAvaH |

In order to counter the argument: bhrama (illusion) is also without any real content and so how can vikalpa and bhrama be different?, (BrahmAnanda) says sadrUpa, etc. (ie. that bhrama has sat as its basis but vikalpa does not have such a real basis). Even in the illusion "this is silver" (in regard to the illusion of silver in nacre), Sat, which is consciousness limited by nacre, shines as "this." This is the purport.

ViTThalesha is answering another possible objection. The opponent may argue as follows. In the illusion of silver in nacre, the nacre is no doubt the basis of the illusory silver. But the basis nacre itself is unreal according to the advaitin. So how can the illusory silver be any different from an entirely fictitious thing such as a hare's horns, something that is imagined without a real basis. In reply, ViTThalesha says that even in the silver-in-nacre illusion, the basis nacre is not absolutely false because the nacre is itself an illusion on the absolutely real sat (Brahman). Therefore, a vikalpa is different from a bhrama.