Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

bAdha - part 2

Definition - Bhaskar

Shankara uses the word bAdha multiple times at various places...In ArambhaNAdhikaraNam (2-1-14) sUtra bhAshyaM Shankara in a single para uses this word several times to say that bAdha is nothing but sublation of wrong knowledge (bAdhitAnuvrutti or bAdhita mithyAj~nAna). It would be important here to note that Shankara alternatively, at some places uses the words like nAsha, laya etc. But these words also implicitly & contextually mean bAdha only...

The word bAdha can be explained with a simple example. If I see a synthetic snake, the first cognition of the 'snake' causes be fear, anxiety etc. After the detailed examination of the same, I get the knowledge that the snake is not real but it is mere 'synthetic' snake. But even after having the correct knowledge of the snake, the shape of snake does not disappear from my sight... but for me ONLY wrong knowledge of 'real' snake will get sublated. Though I could see the curved snake with its broad hood in the front, sharp tail at the end, now I have the bAdhita j~nAna of this seemingly 'real' snake & with that bAdhita j~nAna of that 'real' snake, there is no more anxiety & fear to trouble me.

So, bAdhA or bAdha means when one knows/realizes the true nature of the object. Though it appears in all its (seeming) reality, one's realization would be that it is not real; it is mere false appearance & does not have actual existence. Shankara applies the same logic & says though brahma j~nAnI, like other loukika-s, sees this world, for him the knowledge of the seemeing reality of the world will get sublated with the real knowledge of Atman. He explains this beautifully in sUtra bhAshya ( 2-1-14) :

atashcha idaM shAstrIyaM brahmAtmatvaM avagamyamAnaM svAbhAvikasya shArIrAtmatvasya bAdhakaM saMpadyatE rajvAdhi buddhaya iva sarpAdi buddhInAM, bAdhitE cha shArIrAtmatvE tadAshrayaH samasthaH svAbhAvikO vyavahArO bAdhitO bhavati.

From the above, it may be noted that for a brahma j~nAnI too, there exists the jagat & he too sees the vyavahAra as others do, but the difference for him is that the seeming reality of the existence of the world has been sublated (bAdhita) by the really real, non dual nature of brahman.

Comment from Michael Reidy

It occurred to me in this discussion of bAdha/sublation that the prime examples of its working viz. dream and confusion, can have their own distorting effect. We need to distinguish between manner and matter, between the act of sublation and that which is being sublated. Because of the examples of sublation that are the analogy for the ultimate sublation happen to deal with the unreal, we may be nudged into thinking, that this relative state when sublated upon our achievement of a realisation of the absolute, will be likewise unreal, fantastical, and without substance.

As we have seen, bAdha stresses that the state that is sublated is not thereby annihilated but continues to exist, preserved if you like, with a different understanding of its nature. If we focus on the activity of sublation rather than the matter that is sublated then counter intuitive and incredible positions about the status of the world for the j~nAnI may be avoided.

This is the thinking behind the Tripura Rahasya's statement:

..."I say that you do not understand the advaita shastra; nowhere do the sastras declare the jagat to be unreal. But yet they proclaim advaita to be certain. shruti-s such as "He became all", Only the non-dual Supreme Being shines as the universe", declare the jagat to be real and thereby non-duality is not impaired. Though the town reflected in a mirror seems distinct yet it cannot exist without the mirror and so is no other than the mirror; in the same manner the jagat though seeming distinct is no other than the Supreme Self. So non-duality is unimpaired." (pg.240)

Jagat is sublated on realisation. Our understanding of what it is alters radically. The acts of sublation that we are offered as analogies have as their matter dream and confusion but we ought not to let that fact alter our view of creation. What creation is for the j~nAnI is beyond the dichotomies of reason.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012