Definition by Rishi Lamichhane:
The Ultimate Reality (pAramArthika satya) does
not depend upon mental activity for its existence
in any way. Illusions and hallucinations (which
are prAtibhAsika satya) have no existence apart
from the mind that imagines them. Relative reality
(vyAvahArika satya) also depends upon mind for
its existence, but the functioning of the mind
is not enough in itself.
It might help to take an example of each.
pAramArthika: My existence
is not dependent upon the mind in any way.
prAtibhAsika: The dream-tiger
has absolutely no existence apart from the dreamer's
mind, the dream-tiger is mental activity alone.
Wherever the mind sees the dream-tiger, if it
saw a dream-goat instead, the perception would
be just as valid.
vyAvahArika: A pot does not
exist unless there is mental activity superimposing
it upon its material cause (i.e. clay). However,
the pot's existence is not dependent upon any
one mind and the same pot could be superimposed
on the same clay by any mind. This means that
it is possible to superimpose the pot on the
clay because it has been designed that way for
all minds, and not just for any one mind. It
is only because the pot exists as a potential
in awareness for all beings that it can be superimposed
on clay by any being. Unlike prAtibhAsika satya,
this superimposition is not arbitrary (i.e. you
cannot superimpose a wallet on the clay instead
of the pot, and if you do, it is no longer vyAvahArika,
it is prAtibhAsika).
[Note that the word ‘satya’ should
be understood in this context as ‘level
of reality’; its usual meaning is ‘true
or real’; e.g. brahman is spoken of as
satyam, whereas the world is mithyA.]
Definition by Sampath:
Let us consider the following story,
“Once a young lioness, going about in
search of prey, saw a flock of sheep and jumped
upon them. She died in the effort; and a little
baby lion was born, motherless. It was taken
care of by the sheep and the sheep brought it
up. It grew up with them, ate grass, and bleated
like the sheep. And although in time it became
a big, full-grown lion, it thought it was a sheep.
“ One day another lion came in search
of prey and was astonished to find that in the
midst of this flock of sheep was a lion, fleeing
like the sheep at the approach of danger. He
tried to get near the sheep-lion, to tell it
that it was not a sheep but a lion; but the poor
animal fled at his approach. However, he watched
for his opportunity and one day found the sheep-lion
sleeping. He approached it and said, ‘You
are a lion.’
“’I am a sheep,’ cried the
other lion and could not believe the contrary
but bleated. The lion dragged him towards a lake
and said, "Look here! Here is my reflection
and yours." Then came the comparison. It
looked at the lion and then at its own reflection,
and in a moment came the idea that it was a lion. "I
do not look like a sheep - it is true, I am a
lion!" and with that he roared a roar that
shook the hills to their depths! “
The following conclusions can be drawn from
the above story:
- The lion has realized that it has always
been a lion even when it thought that it was
a sheep. Thus the false knowledge that it had
has been annihilated.*
- The essential nature of the lion is unaffected
at all times. It is pAramArthika. It is eternally
unsublatable. It is in the play of vyAvahArika
where we see the "becoming" and "unbecoming".
- At the vyAvahArika level we may say that
the sheep has "become" a lion. But
the truth is that the lion was always the same
like an infinite sky. The "Sheep" nature
is like a cloud which comes over it, plays
for a moment, then vanishes. But the sky is
ever the same eternal blue.
- The Sheep existed only in the mind of the
lion! So is the vyAvahArika state unreal from
the absolute standpoint. We see the world as
we are! There is a tree in the dark. A thief
would imagine it to be a police man. A boy
would imagine it to be a ghost and so on. But
the tree remains unchanged.
* A question may be asked: What benefit has
the lion obtained by realizing that it is not
a sheep? It could have spent its life happily
thinking itself to be a sheep.
Reply: It has got rid of "FEAR" by
realizing that there is nothing which could destroy
it. This is surely a benefit in whatever way
you may consider it! Fear is bondage. Fearlessness
is liberation. Because fear arises out of duality
alone! The Katha Upanishad says,
yadidam kincha jagat sarvaM praaNa ejati niHsRitam
mahadbhayaM vajramudyataM ya etadviduramRitaaste
bhavanti || 2 ||
Whatever there is-the whole universe-vibrates
because it has gone forth from Brahman, which
exists as its Ground. That Brahman is a great
terror, like a poised thunderbolt. Those who
know It become immortal.
bhayaadasyaagnistapati bhayaattapati suuryaH
bhayaadindrashcha vaayushcha mRityurdhaavati
paJNchamaH || 3 ||
From terror of Brahman, fire burns; from terror
of It, the sun shines; from terror of It, Indra
and Vayu and Death, the fifth, run.
This fear alone has kept the sun, air and death
in their respective places and functions, allowing
none to escape from their bounds. When the gods
Indra, Chandra, Vayu, Varuna will attain to fearlessness,
then will they be one with Brahman, and all this
phantasm of the world will vanish.
Return to the Contents page for the Terms and Definition.