Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Critical analysis of vedAnta paribhAShA Part XV
Dr. K. Sadananda

flower picture

Part XV - Question related to jAti [form]

In the example of 'this is a fragrant piece of a sandal wood', there is mixture of both immediate and direct, as well as mediate and indirect knowledge. This is considered in nyAya philosophy as defective and is called saMkara – the confusion of two diagonally opposite entities - direct and immediate on one side and indirect and mediate on the other. Hence the next objection is based on position of nyAya philosophy.

Q. If we admit the cross between immediate knowledge and mediate knowledge as in the example above then we have problem of discarding or rejecting jAti or genus as a distinct category.

The objection is based on the philosophical position of nyAya which admits jAti as a fundamental and eternal category which does not allow co-existence of mutually opposite characteristics - in our case immediate on one side and mediate on the other, related to objective knowledge. We discussed jAti before in relation to the characteristics of particular species, as in the example of jAti of ‘cow’ being different from that of ‘horse’. jAti relates to the generic characteristics that are common for all cows and which make a cow a cow and not a horse.

Suppose we find an animal that has some of the cow characteristics and some of the horse characteristics, then can it be called cow and horse simultaneously or neither a cow nor a horse? We are now violating the jAti-s of both. That is we are putting mutually exclusive characteristics in one locus, i.e. jAti of cow excludes jAti of horse. More importantly, we have the problem of separating cow jAti from horse jAti. If we had animals that had characteristics of both cow and horse, the naming of cow jAti separate form horse jAti would become meaningless. Hence this cross between diagonally opposite entities makes jAti a non-fundamental and non-eternal category. There is a problem and hence an objection.

A. A simple answer by a Vedantin is: ‘So What?’ An advaitin does not admit jAti as a fundamental and eternal category. He is only concerned about the attributes and, if they happen to form into a class or jAti, so be it, but if they do not then there is no violation. The necessity or requirement for the attributes to fall into categories (jAti-s) in order for perception to be valid is the problem. Advaita takes the attributes as they come – we cannot force them to fall into categories that we have defined a priori. Hence, if the objection is that jAti as a fundamental category is being compromised, the answer is that that is good. It only goes to show that jAti is not a fundamental, eternal category. VP says that, in the perception of an object as 'this is a jar', there is already proof of the existence of an attribute 'jarhood' which makes a jar a jar and not a flower vase. We have no preset ‘jarhood’ category in which all jars have to belong. There is no requirement that, in order for the perception to be valid, there has also to be some generic attribute for it to be a jar. Hence, generic attribute as an entity itself is fictitious. Not only can such a generic attribute not be perceived, it cannot be inferred either.

Proceed to the next essay.

Other Essays in this Section (Perception):
01. Introduction Part 1. 28. Perception at the Individual Level.
02. Introduction Part 2. 29. Perception at the Cosmic Level.
03. Analysis of Time and Space. 30. Summary so far.
04. Knowledge is Continuous. 31. vAchArambhanaNaM.
05. Whatever you perceive is Brahman! 32. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.1.
06. Attributes and Substantive. 33. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.2.
07. Mechanics of Perception. 34. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.3.
08. Some Objections. 35. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.4.
09. Internal Perceptions. 36. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.5.
10. The Criteria for Cognition. 37. Nature of ‘ego’ and Self-realization.
11. Unity of limiting consciousness for perception. 38. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 1.
12. Internal Perceptions (cont.) 39. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 2.
13. Some Clarifications Regarding Internal Perception. 40. Analysis of Error - Part 1: khyAti vAda-s.
14. Some Clarifications Regarding Character. 41. Analysis of error - Part 2: vedAnta paribhAshA analysis.
15. Question related to jAti [species]. 42. Analysis of error - Part 3: naiyAyika objection.
16. Relation between an attribute and its substantive. 43. Creation as Transformation.
17. brahman is the changeless substantive. 44. Questions on ‘Creation as Transformation’.
18. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 1). 45. Ontological Status of 'This'.
19. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 2). 46. Two Layers of Ignorance.
20. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 1). 47. Conclusion of silver-nacre analysis.
21. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 2). 48. Perception in Dream.
22. Mind as Subject. 49. Negating false perception.
23. Self-realization. 50. Counterpositive.
24. Application to Illusions. 51. Summary of Mechanism of Perceptual Knowledge.
25. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 1). 52. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 1.
26. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 2). 53. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 2.
27. The position of vishiShTAdvaita.  
The next section in this series continues with the pramANa of anumAna (inference).

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