Part L -
notes are from S. N. Sastri (29th Oct 2008) :
As stated in the first paragraph
of the Introduction to the English translation by
Swami Madhavananda, this work has adopted the method
and phraseology of Navya-Nyaya introduced by Gangesa
Upadhyaya in the fourteenth century. The Sanskrit
itself is difficult to understand unless one has studied
the method of expression of Navya-Nyaya. The English
translation of Swami Madhavananda follows the Sanskrit
original and so it also is difficult to understand.
The sentences relating to the term ‘counterpositive’ will
be explained in simple language.
The first sentence is the following
one on p. 77 :-- "Unreality
consists in something being the counter-positive of
the absolute non-existence that abides in whatever is
supposed to be its substratum".
Now, if one makes a statement
such as: "There
is no pot on this floor" or "A pot does not
exist on this floor", the pot is the counter-positive
of its own non-existence and the floor is the substratum.
A person sees a rope and thinks it is a snake. Afterwards
he finds out that it is only a rope. Then he says, "There
never was a snake here". Another way of saying
this is, "There is absolute non-existence of a
snake here". In this sentence the snake, whose
non-existence is stated, is the counter-positive. The
rope in front is the substratum. So we can say that
the snake is the counter- positive of its own absolute
non-existence in the rope which was the substratum on
which it was seen, i.e. which was supposed to be its
substratum. The expression "non-existence that
abides in the substratum" means only "the
non-existence in the substratum". Thus what the
sentence on p.77 quoted above means is: That which appeared
to exist at a particular place, but was found later
to be non-existent there is mithyA. The snake appeared
to exist where the rope was, but later on it was found
that it did not exist. So the snake is mithyA.
The other sentence from P. 78
is: "The unreality
of all things whatsoever consists in their being counter-positives
of the absolute non-existence that abides in what is
supposed to be their substratum".
The idea conveyed is the same that of the sentence
on p.77. The difference is only that here `things' are
spoken of in the plural, while in the earlier sentence
only one thing was spoken of. The word `their' is correct
and there is no typo. It means `of the things which
are being described as mithyA'.
The expression: "non-existence abiding in the
substratum" is based on Nyaya philosophy. According
to Nyaya, abhAva or non-existence is also a category.
So they say "there is non-existence", or "Non-existence
abides here". Advaita does not accept non-existence
as a category. So we say that it is self-contradictory
to say that non-existence exists or that there is non-existence.
We say only that the thing (snake, silver, etc.) does
not exist at the place where it was seen due to earlier
error . VP has used the language of Nyaya and that is
why it speaks of "non- existence abiding in the
substratum". What is meant is only that the counter-positive
does not exist at all in the place where it appeared.]
VP says that the false attribute (of silveriness) abiding
in a different substratum (nacre), where there is never
an existence of the real object (silver, that always
has silveriness as its real attribute), is permitted.
When the silveriness is denied with the negation that ‘there
is no silver here in the nacre that is seen’,
the negation applies not to the real silver but to the
false silver, which is illusory.
It is similar to saying that there is no ‘jar-hood’ in
the cloth. The absence of silver in the nacre is always
met in the past, present and future, and even when it
is mistaken as silver. I can even enjoy the silvery-attribute
of nacre, even after denying that there is no silver
here but only nacre. Similarly, I can enjoy the attributive
objects in the world, even after knowing that all objects
are nothing but Brahman. It is a false world and not
a real world that is falsified (even though we mistake
the false world as a real one) in the awakening of the
knowledge that everything is nothing but Brahman. In
fact, only the false world can get falsified by knowledge
and not any real world. If there were such a real world,
it could never get falsified since it would be real.
(That is the definition of a ‘real’ entity).
Similarly, only the false silver can get falsified when
the true nature of the substantive of the object, namely
nacre, is known. We can say it is the vibhUti [glory]
of the nacre to have a silvery shining-ness without
being silver. Similarly, it is the vibhUti of Ishvara
or the Lord, to have His attributes of the variety of
the magnificent world of objects without substantially
becoming those objects or while remaining as the attribute-less
and part-less Brahman. That is the essence of vibhUti
yoga as described in Bhagavad Gita (Ch.10).
Objection: The next objection is more technical.
The objector gives two alternatives.
Firstly, the objector asks whether, when one perceives
illusory silver in the nacre, the absolute existence
as substratum of the illusory silver is known or unknown.
As per vedAnta, when we say that an object ‘is’,
Brahman, the absolute reality, expresses as existence
in the ‘is-ness’ of the object, as its substantive.
In the form of ‘is-ness’, the absolute reality
(as though) lends its existence or relative reality
to the object. Hence, the objector asks, in the perception
of the illusory silver, does one have knowledge of its
absolute existence? If the answer is no, then it means
that the absolute existence of the illusory silver (that
has silveriness as its attributive content) is not known
(since the existence of an object is established by
the knowledge of its existence). In this case,
the absence of or non-existence of illusory silver cannot
perceived either. This in turn means that, if the existence
is not perceived, then its non-existence also cannot be perceived.
Hence, one cannot make a statement that there is no illusory
silver here. The objection is similar to saying that if the
existence of gAgAbU is never known, then the statement that ‘there
is no gAgAbU here’ also cannot be made, since the absence
of a non-existent object can never be perceived.
Secondly, the objector says that, if the absolute existence
of the illusory silver is known through its attribute of silveriness,
since the perception depends on the existence (perceptuality
condition is met when the existence of the object is united
with the subject consciousness), then it is not illusory silver
any more, since it exists like nacre and is perceived by its
silveriness. Therefore, the silver that has silveriness will
have to exist in the nacre or with the nacre. Therefore, its
existence cannot be denied by the statement ‘there is
no silver here’, as it is perceived and its existence
is already known.
Reply: The above arguments are not correct
from the advaitic perspective. The pure existence manifests
in the nacre as ‘nacre is’. The ‘is-ness’ or
the absolute existence forms the substantive for the nacre.
This possibility comes from the scriptural statement that
every thing is Brahman and Brahman is pure existence without
a second. If that possibility forms a basis for the existence
of the apparent nacre (first order) within vyavahAra, which
is not absolutely real, then the same possibility forms the
basis for (the second order) appearance of the illusory silver.
We do not admit the first order silver (the real silver)
in the nacre since there is no silver-hood present in the
nacre. Thus, the pure existence in the form of ‘silver-hood
is’ in the nacre is not admitted, since it is not there.
Here we need to differentiate between the vyavahAra silver
(relative reality that ‘silver is’) and the illusory
silver (prAtibhAsika ‘silver is’ as the
mental projection). Nacre forms the substantive for the prAtibhAsika
and pure existence forms the substantive for the nacre. Hence
indirectly, pure existence also forms the substantive for the
illusory silver or prAtibhAsika silver. The above objection
is due to not clearly appreciating the vyAvahArika and prAtibhAsika
relative realities and their relative ontological status.
We do, however, admit that the ‘transfer’ of attributes
from one thing to another (providing that both are of the same
order of reality) constitutes an error, when the thing that
is superimposed is not directly connected to the thing on which
it is superimposed. That means they are relatively independent
within the same order of reality. For example, we can perceive
the redness associated with an hibiscus flower in the clear
crystal, since the redness of the flower is related to the
organ of vision. That is, I can see the redness of the hibiscus
of the flower as it is getting refracted by the crystal nearby.
I may mistakenly think that the crystal is red without realizing
that the superimposed attribute of redness comes from the nearby
hibiscus flower. There is no origin of some imaginary redness
or unaccountable redness or illusory redness in the crystal.
Objection: Now the objector pushes the limit
of the above example. The objector refers to the above example,
where redness associated with the clear crystal is known
to arise from the nearby hibiscus flower via the sense of
vision. Here, the connection between the redness in the crystal
and the redness due to nearby flower is established by the
sense organ of vision. Henc,e redness in the crystal is not ‘created’.
Now suppose that I cannot see the hibiscus flower due to
some obstruction, and therefore do not know that the redness
is coming from a nearby flower. If I can still perceive or
cognize the redness in the crystal, then one has to admit
that the redness in the crystal is not real but is illusory
(since we are ignorant of the source of redness).
Reply: There is no problem. We can accept
that explanation until the obstruction to perceiving the
flower is removed. We accept that it is illusory when we
gain the knowledge or have the knowledge that crystal is
always clear and that the color that we see is due to superimposition
of attributes arising from objects elsewhere. The bottom
line is that the knowledge is taken as real until we have
a contradictory experience to negate that knowledge. This
forms the following general definitions for validity of all
perceptions: Valid knowledge is that which is not contradicted
by subsequent knowledge or experience. Absolute knowledge
is that which remains absolutely real and is never contradicted.
Any other knowledge is relatively real until it is negated.
vedAnta says that the knowledge of the relative world
is only relative since, from the absolute point of view,
there is nothing other than Brahman. Since the world is
experienced, it is not unreal. Since it is neither real
nor unreal, it is mithyA. The prAtibhAsika is also classed
as mithyA, like the silver that is experienced in the
nacre. The nacre silver not regarded as illusory until
one goes and picks up the object, examines it and makes
that discovery. No one goes after illusory silver, knowing
that it is illusory. When silver is seen in the nacre,
the silver seen is taken as real or valid until subsequent
knowledge negates that assumed reality. Similarly, the
world appears to be real but gets negated when we gain
knowledge of Brahman, the substantive of the world. Then,
the world becomes known to be apparent like the silver
is apparent in the nacre. Hence, we have pAramArthika
satyam, vyAvahArika satyam and prAtibhAsika satyam. Perceptions
at these three levels have to be understood.
Proceed to the next