Definition - Dr. K. Sadananda
Here are some simple rules on bAdha - negation
1. That which is real cannot be negated - In
fact we use this as a definition of ‘real’: ‘that
which can never be negated (at any time) is real’.
2. That which is unreal need not be negated – e.g.
the son of a barren woman. There is no need to
negate those things that have no existence or
locus of existence at any time.
3. Only that which appears to be real but is
not really real can be negated. What we are negating
is our assumption of reality to the transients
- all the so-called human suffering arises due
to our giving importance to the transient dualities – e.g.
heat and cold at the body level, pleasure and
pain at the mind level and pride and insult at
the intellect level, since they are all transients
and do not have any existence in say deep-sleep
state. Hence Krishna says that forbearance is
required by recognizing their transient nature
and by understanding that which is changeless
in the transients.
Many philosophers only subscribe to the first
and the second aspects and not to the third.
Yet, many of them do recognize that their 'real'
can be of two types - that which is changeless
and that which changes. They may not make distinction
between the two, even though the distinction
is obvious. These changeless and changing entities,
Advaita Vedanta calls pAramArthika and vyAvahArika
Advaita subscribes to the third aspect also
as apparently real but really not real.
Any change is a transformation and there is
a rule of transformation that there is a matter/energy
balance during the transformation which is conserved.
The conserved one is the substantive that remains
the same during the transformation and therefore
does not undergo transformation. 'bAdha' therefore
involves 'transformation' and that which never
undergoes any transformation has to be infinite
and is therefore always 'real'. The absolutely
infinite can only be one - that is Brahman.
Krishna emphasizes this law of conservation
in a cryptic form (B.G. II-16) in the famous
nAsato vidyate bhAvo nAbhAvo vidyate sataH -
that which non-existent cannot come into existence
and that which exists cannot cease to exist.
He applies this law to the existence of the
jIvAtma-s in the beginning of his teaching:
na tve vAham … there was never a time
I was not there, nor you, nor these kings in
front of us… etc.
Creation therefore involves a transformation
of something that is already there which never
ceases to exist.
We now introduce a few additional rules to our
4. Only the finite can undergo transformation.
Transformation involves change or bAdha, and
change can be recognized only from the point
of a changeless reference. From this it follows
5. Brahman cannot undergo transformation since
by definition Brahman is infinite. Hence Brahman
can be the absolute reference from which all
changes can be recognized. The last statement
is 'tongue in cheek' since, Brahman being infinite,
there cannot be 'anything' other than Brahman.
Therefore, all transformations, including the
reactants and products of transformations, have
to be in Brahman. But there is nothing in Brahman
other than Brahman. If there appears to be, it
is only seemingly present and that which is seemingly
present can be negated or it is bAdhitam - seemingly
present but not really present.
6. Hence all transformations in Brahman are
only apparent transformations and not real since
no real transformation can occur in Brahman or
for Brahman. There is only name and form but
no real substance to transform reactants and
products other than Brahman which never undergoes
any transformation. Therefore recognition of
their apparent nature is the 'bAdha' or sublation
that is required by those who think the names
and forms are real and suffer as a consequence
of that misunderstanding.
Now we take this to the another extreme case.
Any transformation can be recognized only by
a conscious entity who himself does not undergo
any transformation - One who knows past (before
transformation) and future (after transformation)
but himself remains as witness of the transformation,
without undergoing any transformation - is the
subject I. Hence 'I' cannot undergo any transformation
since if 'I' undergoes transformation, I need
another subject which does not undergo transformation
to recognize this transformation of 'I'. The
subject 'I' can never become an object for transformation!
Hence I can never be bAdhita vastu. I am a conscious-existent
entity, similar to Brahman who is also satyam-j~nAnam
and anantam, as per the scriptures. I cannot
undergo transformation and neither Brahman can
undergo transformation. Hence the scripture declares
that I am that Brahman - aham
Hence, the ultimate 'bAdha' or sublation is
the negation of my notion of what I am - by negating
what I am not. I am the subject and not an object
for any transformation; anything that transforms
cannot be 'I'.
Now applying rules 1 to 3, I am the only one
that is real and everything 'else' is only apparent
and therefore negatable or sublatable. I am satyasya
satyam - absolutely real; never negatable since
I am the subject who subjects all objects to
negation as I move from waking to dream to deep-sleep
This process of negation is nididhyAsana and
has to be done constantly until I am fully established
in myself as myself. In that understanding even
the bAdha is itself sublated since there is nothing
other than I. Abidance in that clear understanding
Return to the Contents page for the Terms and Definition.