paricCheda 1 - paricChinnatva hetUpapattih (part 2)

In the last post, we looked at paricChinnatva hetu as a basis to establish jagat mithyAtva. ParicChinnatva or limitation, is three dimensional - limitation by space, by time and by objects. Thus any object which is limited by any one of these dimensions is mithyA.

The siddhikAra now uses this concept to defend the criticisms levelled by the nyAyAmritakAra on the work of an earlier preceptor within the advaita tradition - Sri AnandabodhAchArya, a 11th/12th century teacher of advaita. In Sri Anandabodha's work pramANamAla, he makes the following statement:

'घटादय: स्वानुगतप्रतिभासे वस्तुनि कल्पिता:, विभक्तत्वात्, यथा सर्पमालादिकं, स्वानुगतप्रतिभासे रज्ज्वा इदमंशे विभज्यते, 'एवं ब्रह्मण्यनुगच्छति घटादिकं विभज्यते, सन् घट: सन् पट' ' इति -

The AchArya uses the hetu vibhaktatvAt (because of difference) as a basis to argue that the world is a superimposition on Brahman - in other words, mithyA.

He says: Objects such as pots, etc. are superimposed on the consciousness that is inherent (anugatam) in them, because they are in reality distinct from it (vibhaktam). For example, people superimpose a snake, garland etc. onto a rope, which are in reality distinct (vibhaktam) from the rope, which is inherent (anugatam) in each of the  superimpositions. In the sentence "this is a snake", there are two elements "this" and "a snake". The real object is that which is denoted by "this", the unreal one is the "snake". Thus in the one inherent "this", people superimpose various erroneous notions such as "a snake", "a garland" etc. Similarly, in the one inherent Brahman, elements such as pots, clothes etc are superimposed.

Prima facie, the word vibhaktam, as it is in juxtaposition with anugatam (inherent), leads one to conclude that vibhaktam means ananugatam (not inherent). The nyAyAmritakAra takes this meaning of vibhaktam to cite various examples where different objects may share a common, inherent feature, but one cannot conclude that the objects themselves are mithyA, just on this basis.

He cites a few examples:
1) "ghaTa: calati", "paTa: calati" - We make statements such as "the pot moves", "the cloth moves" etc. Do we claim that pots, clothes, etc are superimposed on the inherent movement and hence mithyA?
2) "ghaTa: rUpi", "paTa: rUpi" - The pot has an appearance, the cloth too has an appearance. Are pots, clothes etc. superimposed on the inherent appearance?
3) "ghaTa: dravyam", "paTa: dravyam" - The pot is a substance, the cloth too is a substance. Are pots, clothes etc. superimposed on the inherent substance?
4) "ghaTa: dhvastha:", "paTa: dhvastha:" - The pot is destroyed, the cloth is destroyed. Are pots, clothes etc. superimposed on the inherent destruction?
5) "ghaTa: anAtma", "paTa: anAtma" - pots, clothes, etc. are anAtma. Are pots and clothes superimposed on the inherent anAtma?
6) "khapuShpa asat", "vandhyAputrah asat" - Objects such as a flower growing out of the sky, or the fictitious son of a woman who is unable to conceive are absolutely non-existent, asat. Can we say that the objects themselves are superimposed on non-existence?

Clearly, the answer in all of these situations is - no. Therefore vibhaktam (non-inherence) as a hetu for mithyAtva is untenable. This was the argument of the nyAyAmritakAra.

The siddhikAra quotes the AnandabodhAchArya and says that his statement is quite correct.
'घटादय: स्वानुगतप्रतिभासे वस्तुनि कल्पिता:, विभक्तत्वात्, यथा सर्पमालादिकं, स्वानुगतप्रतिभासे रज्ज्वा इदमंशे विभज्यते, 'एवं ब्रह्मण्यनुगच्छति घटादिकं विभज्यते, सन् घट: सन् पट' इति - आनन्दबोधोक्तमपि साधु |

The nyAyAmritakAra's criticism is quite valid if the meaning of vibhaktatvam was taken as ananugatatvam (non-inherence). However, that is not the meaning. The siddhikAra continues:

विभक्तशब्देन स्वसमानसत्ताकभेदप्रतियोगित्वरूपवस्तु परिच्छेदस्य विवक्षितत्वात् न ब्रह्मतुच्छयोर्व्यभिचार:| By the word vibhaktam, limitation by objects is meant. That is, vibhaktatvam is being the counterpositive of a difference, which is of the same order of reality as the substratum. This addresses the various examples cited by the pUrvapakshi and establishes that no vyabhichAra is present either in Brahman or in absolutely absent objects such as a hare's horn.

To explain, everyday objects are mithyA because they are vibhaktam, ie really different from other objects, unlike Brahman which is avibhaktam - it is not limited by any of them on account of a real difference with them.

The pUrvapakshi interjects with some objections to this interpretation. He says:

नच - 'खण्डो गौर्मुण्डो गौ'रित्येवमादिस्वानुगतप्रतिभासे गोत्वादौ व्यक्तीनामकल्पितत्वात् व्यभिचार इति - वाच्यम् ; This interpretation would lead to the result that the individuals of any species would end up as not mithyA, leading to vyabhichAra. If the meaning of vibhaktatvam was non-inherence, as previously assumed, the advaitin could have argued that individual cows (such as one with a broken horn, one with no horns etc) are only superimpositions on the universal class of cows.  However with this new interpretation, such an argument is not possible. How will they be mithyA then?

The siddhikAra says - do not argue thus. Advaita does not accept the naiyyAyika concept of jAti or universals.

सत्सामान्यातिरिक्तगोत्वादिसामान्यानभ्युपगमात्, Apart from existence, which pervades all objects, we do not accept a universal such as cowness that pervades all individuals.

गोत्वाद्यभ्युपगमेऽपि गोत्वादिव्यञ्जकतावच्छेदकसामान्यानभ्युपगमात् Even if we accept that there is an attribute called cowness, we do not accept a universal class of cows indicated by cowness.

This naturally leads to the question - how is it possible to accept the existence of an attribute called cowness inherent in all cows, without knowledge of every cow in the past, present and future? Now, if a universal species or jAti of "Cows" is accepted, it is possible to circumvent this problem - however the advaitin is unwilling to accept the existence of any universal apart from sat, existence.

व्यक्तिविशेषाणामेवाननुगतानां सास्नादिमत्त्वाद्युपाध्यनुगतानां वा तद्व्यञ्जकत्ववत् व्यक्तिविशेषविशिष्टत्वेन सत्सामान्यस्येव तत्तत्व्यवहारजनकत्वोपपत्ते: | The advaitins accept the idea of 'cowness' which excludes features unique to specific cows (such as colour etc), but which includes features common to them such as udders, etc. Such a cowness is immediately known by seeing individuals of any species. One does not need to postulate a universal set called jAti to know this inherent attribute.

अतएव - 'घटादिकं, सद्रूपे कल्पितम् प्रत्येकं तदनुविद्धत्वेन प्रतीयमानत्वात्, प्रत्येकं चन्द्रानुविद्धजलतरङ्गचन्द्रवत्' - इति ब्रह्मसिद्धिकारोक्त्मपि साधु | Similarly, the following statement of the brahmasiddhikAra (maNDana miSra) is also true - 'Objects such as pots etc. are superimposed on Existence (Brahman), because every object appears endowed with existence, similar to the multiple reflections of the moon on waves being superimpositions, reflections of the one moon.'

The pUrvapakshi raises a crucial objection. If every object in the world appears as existing, and that existence is really Brahman, on what basis does the advaitin argue that Brahman is aprameya, unknowable? Therefore the existence that appears in every object is not Brahman, but the object's very own existence.

He asks:

ननु - सदर्थस्य ब्रह्मण: रूपादिहीनस्यासंसारमज्ञानावृतस्य शब्दैकगम्यस्य कथं घट: सन्नित्यादिबुद्धिविषयता स्यात् ?

Brahman, which is Existence, is without form. Further, as long as one is in samsAra, Brahman is enveloped by ignorance (ie it is not known). Further, it is knowable only through shruti. That being the case, how can it be known as the existence that appears in the vision "the pot exists"? 

A truly fantastic question. He continues:

तथाच 'घटोऽनित्य' इत्यनेन घटगतानित्यतेव 'घट: स'न्नित्यनेनापि घटगतमेव सत्त्वं गृह्यते | Further, in the knowledge "the pot is impermanent", we gather that the impermanence is an attribute of the pot, and not some other object. Why should one assume that existence in the knowledge "the pot exists" refers not to the pot, but to another object, Brahman?

नच - स्वरूपेणाप्रत्यक्षस्य राहोश्चन्द्रावच्छेदेनेव ब्रह्मणोऽपि घटाद्यवच्छेदेनैव प्रत्यक्षतेति - वाच्यम् ;

Now the advaitin may argue - Brahman by itself is not perceivable, but like rAhu, whose presence is known only when the moon is covered (during an eclipse), Brahman is also known only when it is associated with / enclosed by a pot. This is not an acceptable argument.

शब्दाद्यवच्छिन्नस्यापि गगनादे: श्रावणत्वाद्यापातात्, If that were true, by a similar argument we could say that space becomes perceptible (ie it is accessible to hearing) only in association with sound. However, no one says that space is heard.

राहोऽस्तु दूरदोषेणाज्ञातस्य नीलस्य योग्यस्य शुक्लभास्वरचन्द्रसंबन्धाच्चाक्षुषता युक्ता - rAhu is normally not known because he happens to be dark and is physically located at a great distance from earth. He becomes fit for perception in conjunction with the white, bright moon. However Brahman is not perceptible under any circumstances - thus one cannot compare Brahman with rAhu.

To this, the siddhikAra replies - इति चेन्न; If this is your argument, no.

यत: सदात्मना न ब्रह्मणो मूलाज्ञानेनावृतत्वम् ; किन्तु घटाद्यवच्छिन्नशक्त्यज्ञानेनैव; Because Brahman's nature as existence is not completely covered by primal nescience (mUlAjnAna) - it is covered only by ignorance in association with objects, secondary nescience (tUlAjnAna). tUlAjnAna is ignorance of everyday objects which gets destroyed when they are seen / known.  

Similarly, it is possible to discern Brahman's nature as existence in the perception of objects, and its nature as consciousness by examining one's own cognitive processes. Primal nescience does not completely obstruct existence and consciousness. However, it does cover Brahman's nature as absolute bliss.

तथाच चक्षुरादिजन्यवृत्त्या तदावरणभङ्गे सति 'सन्घट' इत्यत्र ब्रह्मण: स्फुरणे बाधकाभावात् | When cognition, through the medium of eyes, etc. removes the obstruction (of tUlAjnAna), it generates the knowledge "the pot exists". However, there is no contradiction in recognising that the existence which is known is that of Brahman.  With this, one of the three objects of the pUrvapakshi (as long as one is in samsAra, Brahman is enveloped by ignorance) has been met.

नच - रूपादिहीनतया चाक्षुषत्वाद्यनुपपत्ति: बाधिकेति - वाच्यम् ; Do not argue thus - Brahman, being without form, cannot be seen with eyes and thus there is a contradiction.

प्रतिनियतेन्द्रियग्राह्येष्वेव रूपाद्यपेक्षानियमात्, सर्वेन्द्रियग्राह्यम् तु सद्रूपं ब्रह्म, नातो रुपादिहीनत्वेऽपि चाक्षुषत्वाद्यनुपपत्ति: Every sense organ is capable of revealing only that which it is designed for (for example, eyes can only reveal form, not sound). Whereas Brahman is capable of being known by all sense organs. Thus even though Brahman has no form it is capable of being known.  

How can Brahman be aprameya (unknowable) on the one hand, and sarva indriya grAhyam (knowable by all sense organs) on the other? Because shuddha Brahman is the one that is not capable of being known, whereas upahita Brahman is known through every sense faculty.

That all pramANas reveal existence has been accepted by others.

सत्ताया: परैरपि सर्वेन्द्रियग्राह्यत्वाभ्युपगमाच्च तदुक्तं वार्तिककृद्भि: - That existence is knowable by all faculties has been accepted by others (mImAmsakas and naiyyAyikas) too. Similarly, the vArtikakArA (SureshvarAchArya) says in the brihadAraNyaka vArtikam:

'अतोऽनुभुव एवैको विषयोऽज्ञातलक्षण: | अक्षादीनां स्वतः सिद्धो यत्र तेषां प्रमाणाता || ' इति | Therefore, anubhava (Atma, as existence) is the one that is the object and locus of ignorance. It is in this Atma where all means of knowledge such as sight have self-evident validity.

The dvaitin may not accept the vArtikakAra's statement. So the siddhikAra says -

कालस्य च रूपादिहीनस्य मीमांसकादिभि: सर्वेन्द्रियग्राह्यत्वाभ्युपगमात् | Time, which has no form has been accepted by the mImAmsakAs as knowable by all sense faculties. If that is acceptable, why not existence?

With this, the second (of three) objection of the pUrvapakshi (how can a formless entity by seen?) has been met. The third objection (how can Brahman which is known only through the shruti be revealed in cognitions such as  "the pot exists"?) will be considered next.

नच - शब्दावच्छिन्नस्याकाशस्यापि श्रावणत्वं स्यादिति - वाच्यम् ; You had argued that space would be perceptible only in association with sound. That is not correct.

स्वभावतो योग्यस्य हि केनाचिन्निमित्तेन प्रतिरुद्धयोग्यताकस्यावच्छेदकादिना योग्यता संपाद्यते, If the obstruction covering an object that is otherwise perceptible by nature is removed, then its natural perceptability becomes manifest in association with that which removes the obstruction.

यथा दूरदोषेण प्रतिरुद्धयोग्यताकस्य राहोश्चान्द्रसंबन्धेन | Like rAhu in your example, which was obstructed due to the defect of distance becomes perceptible again due to its association with the moon which allows its perceptibility to become manifest.

एवंचावरेण प्रतिरुद्धयोग्यताकं ब्रह्म घटाद्यवच्छेदेन योग्यं भवति, Similarly Brahman which is naturally knowable but whose knowledge is obstructed, becomes known in association with the pot when the secondary nescience is removed.

नभस्तु स्वभावयोग्यमेव; न प्रतिरुद्धयोग्यताकम्, येन शब्दावच्छेदेन योग्यं भवेत् | However, space is intrinsically not amenable to perception - if its lack of perceptibility was due to an obstruction, one could have argued that it could be perceptible again when the obstruction is removed in association with sound. However, space is not perceptible by its very nature, and the intrinsic nature of a thing cannot vary.

यद्वा - द्रव्यग्रहे चक्षुषो रूपापेक्षा नत्वन्यग्रहे, ब्रह्म तु न द्रव्यं; Alternatively, we can say that the expectation of form as a necessary condition for perception is only true for seeing dravya, substances. Brahman cannot be called a substance. Why?

'अस्थूलमनण्वह्रस्वमदीर्घ'मिति श्रुत्या चतुर्विधपरिमाणनिषेधेन द्रव्यत्वप्रतिषेधात्, अतो नानुपपत्ति: | Because shruti says Atma is not gross, it is not subtle, it is not small, nor big. The the four kinds of measure accepted within nyAya shAstra for substances are said to be absent in Brahman. Thus it cannot be a substance.

अस्तु वा द्रव्यम् ; तथाप्यध्यस्तद्रव्यत्ववति गुणादौ रूपानपेक्षचाक्षुषत्वदर्शनेन धर्म्यन्यूनसत्ताकद्रव्यत्ववत्येव चक्षूरूपमपेक्षते | If one insists on Brahman being a substance, so be it. However that substance-hood can only be an imagined attribute in Brahman, because Brahman is intrinsically without attributes. There can be no expectation of form in the perception of objects whose substance-hood is unreal. From this, one can conclude a general rule - the expectation of form for the visual perception of an object is contingent on a real substance-hood of the object. Put in other words, the requirement of form for perception is only when the substance-hood is not of of a lower order of reality than the object itself. 

Where the substance-hood is unreal, the object may be perceptible even if it is formless.

ब्रह्मणि च द्रव्यत्वं धर्म्यपेक्षया न्यूनसत्ताकमेवेति न तद्ग्रहे रूपाद्यपेक्षा | In the case of Brahman, because it is attribute-less, the attribute of substance-hood must necessarily be of an order of reality lower than Brahman itself. Thus there is no expectation that the perception of Brahman requires it to have a form. 

कल्पितत्वं च स्वाभाववति प्रतीयमानत्वं वा, स्वरूपज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वं वेत्यन्यदेतत् | Thus the substance-hood of Brahman must be kalpitam. What is kalpitam? Where it is really absent, it appears, or which is sublated when the nature of the object it is supposedly present in, is correctly understood. These two correspond to the second and third definitions of mithyAtva.

तस्मात् परिच्छिन्नत्वमपि भवति हेतुरिति सिद्धम् | Therefore, limitation too can be a hetu for mithyAtva.

This concludes the chapter on paricChinnatvam - a three-fold limitation present in all objects in the world.