paricCheda 1 - dvitIya mithyAtva vichAra: (part 8)

In the previous post, we looked at the naiyyAyika's objections to the second definition of mithyAtvam and the siddhikAra's response to them. In conclusion, the siddhikAra had said:

तदा सन्मात्रनिष्ठात्यन्ताभावप्रतियोगित्वमेव मिथ्यात्वं मन्तव्यं | therefore, mithyAtvam should be understood as the counterpositiveness of the absence of an object having only sat (Brahman) as its substratum.

On hearing this, the nyAyAmritakAra raises an objection. If a mithyA object is not present in its own upAdhi, there must be no difference between bhAva, presence and abhAva, absence. If absence and presence are not mutually exclusive, then the knowledge of an object's presence is not contradictory to knowledge of its absence. How can right knowledge disprove wrong knowledge then?

नचैवं सति - भावाभावयोरविरोधात्तज्ज्ञानयोर्बाध्यबाधकभावो न स्यादिति वाच्यं ; - As (according to you) presence and absence are not mutually exclusive, the knowledge that reveals presence and the knowledge that reveals absence of that object in that place at that time must not be mutually exclusive either. Only one of the two must be right, the other must be wrong. Therefore what this ultimately means is that the ability of right knowledge to sublate wrong knowledge itself is rendered impossible.  

भिन्न्नसत्ताकयोरविरोधे अपि समसत्ताकयोर्विरोधात् | Not so, says the siddhikAra. If presence and absence have the same degree of reality, then they will be mutually contradictory, however, if presence and absence have different degrees of reality, then they can both mutually co-exist simultaneously.

यत्र भूतले यस्य घटस्यात्यान्ताभावो व्यावहारिक: तत्र स घटो न व्यावहारिक इति नियमात् | where it is established from a pramANa that there is no pot in the ground, its absence is confirmed as vyAvahArika, therefore the pot must not be vyAvahArika, but prAtibhAsika.

Hearing this, the pUrva pakshi retorts - the rule "if presence and absence are of different orders of reality, they will be not be mutually contradictory", results in a problem. When a silver is seen in shell, the silver, according to the advaitin, is prAtibhAsika. Its absence is more real than the silver, thus it must be vyAvahArika. According to this rule, these two will not be contradictory. Therefore, even after knowing "this is not silver", a seer should continue to see silver.

नचैवं सति - 'शुक्तिरियं न रजत' मिति ज्ञानविषयीभूताभावस्य व्यावाहारिकत्वेन  पुरोवर्तिप्रतीतिरजतस्य व्यावहारिकत्वापहारेऽपि प्रातीतिकसत्त्वानपहारात् बाधोत्तरकालेऽपि 'इदं रजत' मिति प्रतीति: स्यादिति - वाच्यं

The siddhikAra says. Do not argue thus - As a result of the vyAvahArikatvam of the object of the knowledge "this is not silver, but shell" being the silver's absence, silver's reality is established as not vyAvahArika. However the vyAvahArikatva of the absence does not affect the silver's prAtibhAsikatva. Therefore, (according to your rule) even after the sublating knowledge (this is not silver) has arisen, the silver must continue to be seen and the knowledge "this is silver" must coexist with the "this is not silver" knowledge. If the two jnAna viShayas can coexist, the two jnAnas must coexist too.

What the nyAyAmritakAra says is true. In some cases, even after knowing that something is really absent, the object continues to appear to exist. However in other cases like shell-silver, it no longer appears to exist. What determines the difference? To understand this, we have to consider the cause for the appearance of the prAtibhAsika shell-silver. It is ignorance of the true nature of the object in front. The seer did not know that the object in the front was a shell, which led him to believe that it was silver. Thus the cause of the appearance of the silver, is shell-ignorance, shukti ajnAna. When the object is later known as the shell, i.e its ignorance is removed, shukti ajnAna nivritti takes place. When the cause is destroyed, its effects are also destroyed. Therefore, in that case, the shell-silver also undergoes nivritti. It is no longer seen.

The siddhikAra says
तत्र 'इयं शुक्ति'रित्यपरोक्षप्रमया प्रातीतिकरजतोपादानाज्ञाननिवृत्तौ प्रातीतिकसत्त्वस्याप्यपहारात्, there (in the shell-silver example) the direct perception of the shell destroys ignorance, which is the material cause for the appearance of the prAtibhAsika shell silver, which leads to the appearance of the silver to go away too.

शुक्त्यज्ञानस्य प्रातीतिकरजतोपादानत्वेन तदसत्त्वे प्रातीतिकरजतासत्त्वस्यावश्यकत्वात् | as shell ignorance is the material cause of prAtibhAsika silver, when it (the cause) is not there, (its effect) the shell silver, will necessarily not be there too.  

अत एव यत्र परोक्षयाधिष्ठानप्रमया न भ्रमोपादानाज्ञाननिवृत्ति:, तत्र व्यावहारिकत्वापहारेऽपि प्रातीतिकत्वानपहारात् 'तिक्तो गुड' इत्यादिप्रतीतिरनुवर्तत एव |  When the direct perception of the (illusion's) substratum does not result in the destruction of the material cause of the illusion, even if the reality of the illusion is disproven, its appearance / experience persists. For example, when someone is ill, even a sweet object like jaggery tastes bitter. A person may have absolute conviction that jaggery is sweet, but as long as the cause of the illusion (his underlying illness) is unresolved, the experience (pratIti) of bitterness will continue.

एवमखण्डब्रह्मसाक्षात्कारात्पूर्वं परोक्षबोधेन प्रपञ्चस्य व्यावहारिकत्वापहारे अपि प्रतीतिरनुवर्तत एव, अधिष्ठानाज्ञाननिवृत्तौ तु नानुवर्तिष्यते | Similarly, prior to the direct impartite realisation of Brahman, while the indirect knowledge (of advaita) will lead to the falsification of the world's reality (vyAvahArikatva),  the world will continue to be seen. However, when the ignorance of the substratum is destroyed, the experience and perception of the world will no longer occur.

एतेन - उपाधिशब्देनाधिकरणमात्रविवक्षायामर्थान्तरम्, वाय्वधिकरणकात्यान्ताभावप्रतियोगित्वे अपि रूपस्यामिथ्यात्वात्, अधिष्ठानविवक्षायां तु भ्रमोपादानाज्ञानविषयस्याधिष्ठानत्वेनान्योन्याश्रयत्वं, ज्ञानस्य भ्रमत्वे विषयस्य मिथ्यात्वं, विषयस्य मिथ्यात्वे च ज्ञानस्य भ्रमत्वमिति - परास्तम् ;

The nyAyAmritakAra had said -
'उपाधिशब्देनाधिकरणमात्रविवक्षायामर्थान्तरम्, वाय्वधिकरणकात्यान्ताभावप्रतियोगित्वे अपि रूपस्यामिथ्यात्वात्
if the meaning of the word 'upAdhi' is understood as the locus, it leads to the defect of arthAntara (ie instead of proving mithyAtva, it proves avritti). Moreover, the absence of form in wind does not result in form being classified as mithyA - similarly, the absence of the world in brahman, does not imply that the world is mithyA. The meaning of the shruti neha nAnAsti kinchana does not establish the mithyAtva of the world, only the absence of the world in Brahman.

अधिष्ठानविवक्षायां तु भ्रमोपादानाज्ञानविषयस्याधिष्ठानत्वेनान्योन्याश्रयत्वं if the meaning of upAdhi is adhiShThAna, ie the substratum of an illusion, then the substratum is the object of the ignorance which happens to be the material cause of the illusion. However, such a meaning of upAdhi results in the mutual dependence between the meanings of adhiShThAna and mithyA.

adhiShThAna is the substratum of an illusion. In other words, if object A is the substratum of an illusion, B, then A's adhiShThAnatva presupposes the mithyAtva of object B, which is superimposed on A.

mithyAtva, according to this definition by the advaitin, is the absence of an object in its adhiShThAna. In other words,  the mithyAtva of an object B presupposes the absence of B in its adhishThAna A. Thus the mithyAtva of B presupposes the adhiShThAnatva of A and the adhiShThAnatva of A presupposes the mithyAtva of B. This is mutually dependent and a logical fallacy.

ज्ञानस्य भ्रमत्वे विषयस्य मिथ्यात्वं - to prove that an object is mithyA, one says that its jnAna is an illusion

विषयस्य मिथ्यात्वे च ज्ञानस्य भ्रमत्वम्' इति - and to prove that a jnAna is an illusion, one says that its object is mithyA.

एतेन परास्तम् This was the argument of the nyAyAmritakAra - the siddhikAra says that this has been refuted. How?

उक्तरीत्या अधिकरणविवक्षायां दोषाभावात् |  Because upAdhi has been defined as "That which causes the attributes that belong to itself to be perceived as belonging to a proximate object." Thus, the defect of mutual dependence does not exist.

The next argument made by the nyAyAmritakAra is that such a definition of mithyAtva applies to Brahman also. In the ChAndogya upaniShad mantra  7.25.1, "स एवाधस्तात्स उपरिष्टात्स पश्चात्स पुरस्तात्स  दक्षिणतः स उत्तरतः". Therefore, Brahman is in every direction - in other words, Brahman has the directions as its upAdhi, locus.

This mantra talks about Brahman. In the same upaniShad in reply to the question, "What does Brahman rest upon?",  स भगवः कस्मिन्प्रतिष्ठित इति,  the shruti replies, स्वे महिम्नि यदि वा न महिम्नीति - he is dependent on himself, or not. Putting these together, the nyAyAmritakAra argues that Brahman appears in all directions, but at the same time, Brahman is not present in the directions. Therefore, the second definition of mithyAtvam applies to Brahman also. Hence, this is a case over-extension or ativyApti.

The siddhikAra continues:
नच - 'स एवाधस्ता'दिति श्रुत्या प्रतिपन्ने देशकालाद्युपाधौ परमार्थतो ब्रह्मण: अभावात् तत्र अतिव्याप्तिरीति- वाच्यं if you argue using the vedic sentence "he is below"etc, that as Brahman is absent in the very locus of time and space in which it appears, it would be mithyA too and therefore this definition would suffer from the defect of over-extension - that is not correct.

The siddhikAra could have simply said that the same shruti ends with स एवेदं सर्वं - he is everything. Therefore, the veda does not say that the directions are the substrata of Brahman, it in fact says that the directions are Brahman itself. It also goes on to say अहमेवेदं सर्वं and आत्मैवेदं सर्वं to reinforce that point. However, he takes the objection at face value and refutes it.

He says - The nyAyAmritakAra's argument was that shuddha brahman, which is attribute-less, would be included within such a definition of mithyAtva. However, if shuddha brahman is really without attributes, it cannot be defined either - what can be said of something which has no attributes?

निर्धर्मके तस्मिन्नभावप्रतियोगित्वरूपधर्माभावात् | A thing which is attribute-less cannot have the attribute of abhAva pratiyogitvam - counter-positiveness of its absence.

The standard question when this is said is to invoke the "satyam jnAnam anantam brahma" shruti from Taittiriya upaniShad and ask:
नचैवं सत्यत्वमपि तत्र न स्यात्, then how can Brahman have satyatva dharma?

तथाच 'सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्त'मित्यादिश्रुतिव्याकोप इति - वाच्यं; for this will invalidate the veda which says "satyam jnAnam anantam brahma" - Brahman is existence, consciousness, bliss.

The siddhikAra says, do not argue thus, because:
अधिकरणातिरिक्ताभावानभ्युपगमेनोक्तमिथ्यात्वाभावरूपसत्यत्वस्य ब्रह्मस्वरूपाविरोधात् | There is no absence other than the substratum. As a result, existence, which is the absence of mithyAtva as defined is not contradictory to Brahman's nature.

Shruti says Brahman is satyam, jnAnam, anantam. Here existence in reality is of the nature of absence. When we say there is a pot on the ground, the ground is the substratum for the pot. When we say the pot is not there on the ground, the naiyyAyika would argue that the ground is the substratum for the atyantAbhAva of the pot. However, this is not acceptable to us, because there is no need to posit an absence other than the ground itself.

Similarly, we do not say that existence is in Brahman - just like the absence of pot and the ground are not two different things,  existence and Brahman are not two different things, existence is Brahman. It is in this sense that we hold Brahman to be without attributes.

When stated in these terms, the nyAyAmritakAra asks - what about svaprakAshatvam (being self evident), nityatvam (being eternal), etc.? How can they be said to be abhAva rUpa dharma? The siddhikAra says,

एतेन - स्वप्रकाशत्वाद्यपि - व्याख्यातम्; परप्रकाश्यत्वाभावो हि स्वप्रकशत्वम्, the same can be used to explain svaprAkAshatvam etc also. The svaprakAshatvam of Brahman is merely the absence of requiring anything else to illuminate it.

कालपरिच्छेदाभावो नित्यत्वं nityatva (being eternal) is simply the absence of limitation by time.

देशपरिच्छेदाभावो विभुत्वम् vibhutva (being all pervading) is simply the absence of limitation by space.

वस्तुपरिच्छेदाभाव: पूर्णत्वमित्यादि pUrNatvam (infiniteness) is simply the absence of limitation by objects.

तथा च भावभूतधर्मानाश्रयत्वेऽपि ब्रह्मण: सर्वधर्माभावरूपतया  ना काप्यनुपपत्तिरिति सर्वमवदातम् | therefore, even though attributes are not located in Brahman, as the nature of Brahman is the absence of all attributes, no defects are applicable to the second definition of mithya.

This concludes the eight part series on the second definition of mithyAtva, a far-reaching concept within advaita vedAnta.

Originally posted on 7th November 2017.