paricCheda 1 - dvitIya mithyAtva vichAra: (part 2)

In the previous post, available here:, we looked at the objections made by the nyAyAmritakAra to the second definition of mithyAtva proposed by the vivaraNakAra - प्रतिपन्नोपाधौ त्रैकालिकनिषेधप्रतियोगित्वं मिथ्यात्वं - the absence in all three periods of time of an object in the locus of its appearance.

He had asked, what is the sattA, the degree of reality, of the absence of the world?
1) If prAtibhAsika, the absence is only illusory. In other words, the world is not really absent, thus it is real. This has already been accepted by the nyAyAmritakAra, thus the advaitin's argument is siddha sAdhanam.
2) If pAramArthikam, then there are two ultimate realities - Brahman and the world's absence. Thus the doctrine of non-duality, which holds that nothing other Brahman is real,  is disproven.
3) If vyAvahArikam, then the absence itself must be sublatable. As the absence and its counter-positive (the world) cannot co-exist in one location if they have the same order of reality, the world must have a different order of reality than its absence. Thus the world cannot have vyAvahArika satya. The advaitin already agrees that the world does not have prAtibhAsika satya. Therefore the only option left is that the world has pAramArthika satya. Thus there is arthAntara. The advaitin had wanted to prove the world was mithyA, but ended up proving it is pAramArthika satya.

The siddhikAra had not refuted the first option as that is not the position of the advaitin. He had refuted the second option by holding that pAramArthika abhAva, was Brahman itself. That is, abhAva is adhikaraNa svarUpam. Therefore, there is no harm to the doctrine of non-duality. However, the siddhikAra does not hold the status of the absence as pAramArthika to be the siddhAnta. His true intention is to establish that both the object and its absence are vyAvahArika. Thus he says:

abhAva is vyAvahArika
अतात्त्विक एव वा निषेधोऽयम् | in fact, the absence is not pAramArthika . The use of "एव" by the siddhikAra emphasises that his view is that abhAva is not pAramArthika (although the arguments of the nyAyAmritakAra were refuted even assuming abhAva was pAramArthika).
अतात्त्विकत्वेऽपि न प्रातिभासिक:, किन्तु, व्यावहारिक: | While not being pAramArthika, it is not prAtibhAsika, but vyAvahArika.
नच - तर्हि निषेधस्य बाध्यत्वेन तात्त्विकसत्त्वाविरोधित्वादर्थान्तरमिति - वाच्यं ; Do not argue thus - "then, if the absence is vyAvahArika, it must be sublatable, and therefore this leads to arthAntara as such a sublatable absence cannot refute the world's pAramArthikatvam."


The sublatability of absence does not imply the unsublatability of its pratiyogi. Let us consider the example of a person who sees an elephant in a dream. Later, in the dream itself he realises that the elephant was only an illusion. He had mistaken some other object, say a rock, as the elephant. Thus both the dream elephant and its absence are prAtibhAsika, as they both are dreamt. Therefore, while the dream elephant's absence is sublatable (as it prAtibhAsika), that does not necessarily imply that the abhAva pratiyogi, the dream elephant must be unsublatable.

स्वाप्नार्थस्य स्वाप्ननिषेधेन बाधदर्शनात् The object seen in a dream and its absence are both sublatable.
निषेधस्य बाध्यत्वं पारमार्थिकसत्त्वाविरोधित्वे न तन्त्रं There is no rule that the sublatability of absence means that it will be non-contradictory to the unsublatability of the counter-positive.

The wording is a little tricky here, so we will dwell on it for a bit. The siddhikAra wants to establish an important principle here. He says that in order for us to use the degree of reality of the absence to refute the reality of the object, this condition must be met -  the absence needs to be either of the same order of reality as the object, or a higher order of reality than the object.

Let us consider these three examples to see the principle in effect:
1) A person sees an elephant in a dream, and within the dream realises that what he saw was a rock. Thus the absence of the elephant proves the mithyAtva of the elephant within the dream itself. Both the elephant and its absence are prAtibhAsika. Thus even if abhAva and its pratiyogi share the same state of reality, the abhAva can prove the mithyAtva of the pratiyogi.
2) A person sees an illusion of silver in the shell, and later realises that the silver was never present there. Here, the absence of shell-silver (vyAvahArika) is of a higher order of reality than the shell silver (prAtibhAsika). Here too the absence is able to prove the mithyAtva of the pratiyogi.
3) A person sees real silver. He later erroneously thinks that it was not silver (ie silver was absent). This illusion is later corrected. In this case, the silver is vyAvahArika, but the silver's absence is prAtibhAsika. In this case, the abhAva is incapable of establishing the pratiyogi's mithyAtva.

Therefore, avirodhitvam, ie the inability of the abhAva to establish the sublatability of the pratiyogi, is not based on the sublatability of the abhAva itself, but is based on whether the abhAva is of a lower order of reality than the pratiyogi or not.

निषेधस्य बाध्यत्वं पारमार्थिकसत्त्वाविरोधित्वे न तन्त्रं  किन्तु निषेध्यापेक्षया न्यूनसत्ताकत्वम् The sublatability of the absence does not confer unsublatability on the pratiyogi; on the other hand, the unsublatability of the pratiyogi is as a result of the lower order of reality of its absence.  

प्रकृते च तुल्यसत्ताकत्वात् कथं न विरोधित्वं in the current context, as both the world and its absence are of an equal order of reality the absence of the world is sufficient to prove its mithyAtva too.

This raises an issue.  The negative of a negative is positive and the absence of the absence of a thing is the object's presence. Upon brahma jnAna, absence being vyAvahArika, is sublated. That is, the absence is absent. Will the world's presence not be established upon brahma jnAna? This is the next objection raised by the nyAyAmritakAra.

The denial of a denial is not affirming the original
नच - निषेधस्य निषेधे प्रतियोगिसत्त्वापत्तिरीति - वाच्यं;  The siddhikAra says: Do not argue thus - "the negation of a negation leads to the counter-positive's reality."

Why? The denial of a denial leads to the affirmation of the original only under certain circumstances. If only the pratiyogi is being negated, then the subsequent negation of the negation will establish the reality of the pratiyogi. However, if both absence and its counter-positive are negated, then the sublation of the absence, does not establish the reality of the counter-positive.

It sounds good, but is there an example where both absence and its counter-positive are simultaneously negated? In nyAya, there is. The naiyyAyika mentions that there are four kinds of absence:

1) prAg abhAva - the absence of an object before it is created.
2) dhvamsa abhAva - the absence of an object after it is destroyed.
3) atyantAbhAva - the total absence of the object.
4) anyonyAbhAva - the absence of another object in this object.

According to nyAya, prAgabhAva (prior absence) and dhvamsa abhAva (posterior absence) are said to exist in the pratiyogi's upAdAna kAraNa (the material cause). However, atyantAbhAva (absolute absence) does not exist in the upAdAna kAraNa.  For example, the pot's prior absence and posterior absence are present in clay, but absolute absence is absent. Meaning, a lump of clay may be converted into a pot in the future, thus the pot's prAgabhAva can be said to be present in clay. Similarly, after the pot is destroyed, it gets destroyed into pot shards, which are nothing but clay. Thus, dhvamsAbhAva is also present in clay. However, one cannot say that a pot was not ever present in this clay or it will not ever be present in this clay. Thus atyantAbhAva of the pot cannot be said to be existing in the clay. Further, when it is just a lump of clay, the pot itself is not present in it, in the current moment. Thus while the upAdAna kAraNa of an object contains the prAgabhAva and dhvamsAbhAva, it does not contain the atyantAbhAva and the pratiyogi, according to the naiyyAyika.

This is the example used by the siddhikAra. In the instance of clay, both pratiyogi and atyantAbhAva are absent. In this case, when we negate the pot's atyantAbhAva in the clay, it does not necessarily mean its pratiyogi, the pot is present in the clay right now. Thus the denial of a denial need not necessarily imply the satyatva of the pratiyogi.

Similarly, in the shruti sentence, neha nAnAsti kinchana, both the world and its absence are being negated in Brahman, therefore, the reality of the world is not established on brahma jnAna when the negation is sublated.  

(To be continued)

(Originally published on 5th October, 2017.)