advaita-siddhi - 16 BrahmavAda and shUnyavAda

advaita-siddhi text:

sarvatra traikAlikanishhedhapratiyogitvaM yadyapi tuchchha-
anirvAchyayoH sAdhAraNam.h tathApi kvachidapyupAdhau sattvena
pratItyanarhatvaM atyantAsattvam.h tachcha shuktirUpye prapaJNche
cha bAdhAtpUrvaM nAstyeveti na tuchchhatvApattiH | na cha bAdhAt.h
pUrvaM shuktirUpyaM prapaJNcho vA sattvena na pratIyate |
etadeva sadarthakenopAdhipadena sUchitam.h |
shUnyavAdibhiH sadadhiShThAnabhrama-anaN^gIkAreNa kvachidapy-
upAdhau sattvena pratItyanarhatvarUpa-asadvailaxaNyasya
shuktirUpye prapaJNche cha-anaN^gIkArAt.h |

sarvatra - everywhere, traikAlikanishhedhapratiyogitvaM - being the counter-positive (pratiyogin) of an absence for all periods of time, yadyapi- even though, tuchchha- anirvAchyayoH - of the trivial (absolutely non-existent, or fictitious) and the undefinable (anirvachanIya), sAdhAraNam.h- common, tathApi - but still, kvachidapyupAdhau - in any substratum, sattvena - as existing ( as identified with Existence), pratItyanarhatvaM - incapable of being cognized, atyantAsattvam.h - absolute non-existence, tachcha shuktirUpye- and that in the silver-in-nacre, prapaJNche cha - and in the world, bAdhAtpUrvaM - before sublation, nAstyeveti - is not at all, and thus, na tuchchhatvApattiH - (they) cannot be absolute non-existence, na cha bAdhAt.h pUrvaM - nor before sublation, shuktirUpyaM prapaJNcho vA - the silver-in-nacre or the world, sattvena na pratIyate - is not cognized as existing, etadeva - it is exactly this, sadarthakenopAdhipadena - by the word "upAdhi" which has Reality (sat) for its denotation, sUchitam.h - (is) indicated, shUnyavAdibhiH - by the shUnyavAdins, sadadhiShThAnabhrama- illusion with Reality (sat) as the basis, anaN^gIkAreNa - by not agreeing, kvachidapyupAdhau - in some substratum, sattvena - as existing (as identified with Existence), pratItyanarhatvarUpa - of the nature of being incapable of being cognized, asadvailaxaNyasya - of (what is) different from non-existence, shuktirUpye prapaJNche cha - in the silver-in-nacre and the world, anaN^gIkArAt.h - due to not agreeing


Although being the counter-positive of absolute negation (negation for all times) is common between the absolutely nonexistent and the undefinable (anirvachanIya), still, what is absolute nonexistence is **incapability**of**being**cognized**as** existing**in**any**substratum. And that (incapability) is NOT either in the silver-in-nacre (the illusory silver) or in the world **before**sublation. Thus, they (the illusory silver or the world) cannot be absolutely nonexistent (as, for example, a hare's horn). For, it is not the case that the silver-in-nacre or the world is not cognized as existing (as identified with Existence). This is precisely what is indicated by the word "upAdhi" that has Reality (sat) for its denotation (meaning). The shUnyavAdins (Buddhists) do not agree that the basis of (any) illusion is the Reality (sat). So they do not agree that the silver-in-nacre and the world are capable of being cognized as existing in some substratum, which is what makes them (illusory entities such as the silver-in-nacre and the world) different from the absolutely non-existent.


BrahmAnanda clarifies the advaita position vis-a-vis the Bauddha's in his gauDabrahmAnandI (laghuchandrikA) commentary on the advaita-siddhi.

nanu shUnyavAdino mAdhyamikasya mate sarvaM mithyeti svIkAre .api
ghaTaH sannityAdidhIH svIkriyate sarvAnubhavasiddhAyAstasyA

(Objection:) Even in the mAdhyamika or shUnyavAda system (of the Bauddhas) it is accepted that everything is mithyA or unreal, but cognitions such as "the pot is", etc. are accepted because they are established by universal experience and, as such, cannot be denied. (So how is the advaita position different from the mAdhyamika?) Reply:

tatra cha-abAdhyarUpasattAdAtmyaM na bhAti, kiMtv-arthakriyAkAritva- miti taiH svIkriyate

However, in their (mAdhyamika) system, the (unreal thing) does not appear as identified with Reality (sat). Rather, what is accepted is that (existence of the world is the same as) the capacity to produce effects or causal efficiency.

In the Buddhist system, existence is defined as arthakriyAkAritva or arthakriyAshakti, the capacity to produce effects. A pot exists simply because it produces some effects, such as cognition, in us and its surroundings. However, in this system, this arthakriyAshakti is universally concomitant with momentariness which means that everything that exists is only momentary. For example, the table I see now exists because it produces some effects in me and its surroundings. The next moment, the effects produced by the table are not the same as they are now. Since the table's existence is defined by the effects it is capable of producing, the table I see now is not the same table in the next moment. Similarly the table I see now is not the same as the table in the previous moment. Hence, we may understand the Bauddha position on Existence (sattva) as xaNikatvavyAptam.h, ie. whatever exists is only momentary.

In contrast, the advaita position on sattva is trikAla-abAdhyatva- svarUpa, ie. sattva consists in not being sublatable at any time. In any cognition such as "san.h ghaTaH", "the pot is", ( or "san.h paTaH", "the cloth is") the advaitin holds that what is being cognized is Existence (sat) with a super-imposed relation of identity (tAdAtmya) between Existence and the pot (ghaTa). In other words, the pot is being cognized as identified with an eternally unsublatable basis (adhishhThAna) which is sat. This is what BrahmAnanda is pointing out in his laghuchandrikA. That is why he interprets "sattvena" in MadhusUdana's reply as "abAdhyarUpasattAdAtmyena", "as being identified with Reality (sat) that is unsublatable." He says further:

"san.h ghaTa" ityAdipratyayopapatterukta-abAdhyatvaM mAdhyamikena na svIkriyate

The said unsublatability that is established in cognitions such as "the pot is" is not accepted by mAdhyamika.

nacha bAdhAtpUrvamabAdhyatvaM prapaJNche .astyeva tanmate .api-iti vAchyam.h

Nor can (you) say that even in that system (mAdhyamika) the unsublatability of the world IS there before its sublation.


trikAla-abAdhyatvasya-eva-asmAbhirniveshAt.h |

Because we have included the term trikAla-abAdhyatva , non-sublatability for all times.

What BrahmAnanda means here is that the world is itself unsublatable until of course there is the bAdhakaGYAna, GYAna that sublates the world. And until that happens the world appears identified with the eternally unsublatable Brahman. No such view is expressed anywhere in the mAdhyamika system (tanmate tu na kutra .api iti).

BrahmAnanda concludes:

abAdhyavisheshhyaka-prapaJNchabhramasya svIkAre prapaJNche
apy-abAdhyatAdAtmyabhramo .avashyaM svIkAryaH, paraspara -
adhyAsAnurodhAt.h, anyathA tu tatra mAnAbhAva iti bhAvaH |

Upon accepting that the world is an illusion on the unsublatable qualificand (Brahman), one must necessarily accept also that there is the illusion of identifying the world with the unsublatable, because of the requirement due to the mutual superimposition (between the world and Brahman). Else, there would be no evidence (to accept that the world is an illusion on the unsublatable Brahman). This is the purport (of what MadhusUdana says).  Although the advaitin says the world is an illusion on Brahman, he is careful to point out that the illusion involves the (erroneous) identification of the world with the unsublatable Brahman. Until and unless there is a bAdhaka-jnAna, jnAna that sublates the world, the illusion of the world will persist, **independent** of time. The sublation of the world depends **solely** on the bAdhaka-jnAna. In contrast, there is no such requirement in the Bauddha system. Whatever exists does so only momentarily. The sublation of whatever appears to exist is not in any way dependent on a bAdhaka-jnAna. This is shUnyavAda.

As the Atmatattvaviveka says:

na grAhyabhedamavadhUya dhiyo .asti vR^ittistadbAdhane
balini vedanaye jayashrIH |
nochedanityamidamIdR^ishameva vishvaM tathyaM tathAgatamatasya
tu ko .avakAshaH ||

The cognition of an object does not exist if its difference from the object is disregarded - the powerful VedAnta has scored a victory by defeating this view. This world of illusion as we know it is (in essence) real. So where is the scope for the theory of the Bauddha in this (VedAnta) ?

In fact, the characteristic of (the world's) being sublated by jnAna (jnAna-nivartyatva) is taken to be one of the definitions of mithyAtva itself, as we shall see later. This underscores the paramount importance of jnAna as the destroyer of all duality. We cannot simply wish the duality to go away without resorting to jnAna. And what is this jnAna? It involves shravaNa, manana, and nididhyAsana by the aspirant who has the four-fold qualifications, sAdhana-chatuShTaya. Just saying that world of duality does not exist or putting forth a nice theory will not be of much use.

In this connection, there is a lesson in the PanchadashI. Someone who has mere verbal familiarity with advaita asks: Why am I still without realization? VidyAraNya gives the example of a man who heard that an award was being given to anyone who knew the four Vedas. This man claimed that he knew there were four Vedas (and probably their names) and so he was entitled to the award! With respect to Brahman/Self, VidyAraNya asks "Do you just say the word Brahman or do you realize its meaning?" (shabdAneva paThasyAho teShAmarthaM cha pashyasi).