Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

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

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Part XX - Questions related to Perceptuality (part 1)

VP has established that the criteria for perceptuality is that the subject consciousness is the same as the object consciousness. An object is nothing but consciousness (Brahman) with name and form, i.e. the ‘attributes’ of the object. Perceptuality of the object occurs in the mind when the consciousness underlying the subject becomes one with the consciousness that is the substantive of the object, the attributes of the object being only superimpositions on the substantive consciousness. The fact that 'I am conscious' is direct and immediate knowledge – no pramANa is required to know that I am a conscious entity. The criterion of perceptuality therefore demands the unity in the consciousness of the subject and that of the object. We can say that perception of an object is direct and immediate since the substantive of both the subject and the object in the mind is consciousness alone – this is unity at the substantive level and duality at the transactional level.

Additional requirements and implications of the criteria of perception are illustrated below using question and answer format.

On Dharma and Adharma

Q. If the criterion for perceptuality is that the subject consciousness is the same as the object, then one should perceive righteous and unrighteous (dharma and adharma) instead of inferring them based on the good and bad results that they generate. The criteria for perceptuality have been met since the consciousness limited by them is not different from the subject consciousness and existence of righteousness etc is not apart from that of the subject.

A. That is not so. Here the VP reminds us that, in addition to the above criteria at the substantial level, there is also a requirement at the transactional level that the mental mood should have attributes as its contents. In fact, to put this more precisely, the attributes of the mental moods should be perceptible. In the case of righteous and unrighteousness, the attributes are imperceptible as was discussed before.

Hence we can restate the criteria for perceptuality of an object. The criteria relate to both the substantive level and the transactional level (an object has to have attributes at the transactional level, which are superimposed on the substantive Brahman). At the substantive level, the consciousness and existence of the subject are not different from the object. At the transactional level, the mental mood or vRRitti that corresponds to the object should have contents/attributes of the object. The complete perception of an object involves: Brahman + the attributes of the object. Brahman is substantial, whereas the attributes are superimpositions (adhyAsa). VP establishes the criteria for perceptuality in terms of both. In the case of dharma and adharma, righteous and unrighteous, the attributes are imperceptible. Even though we meet the substantial part, the transactional part is not met. Because of the imperceptibility of their attributes, the knowledge of dharma and adharma is difficult and has to be known only through shAstra-s.

Can perception of one attribute cause perception of the other?

Q. If an object has two attributes (say color and size), the perception of one (say color) should also lead to perception of the other (the size). Since both attributes are locussed on one object, the substantive, the limiting consciousness is the same for both. The mind, through the senses, perceives the attributes and a vRRitti is formed. We are meeting all the criteria for perception; the consciousness and existence of the knower, subject, is the same as that of the object and object has perceptible attributes. Since the object is meeting all the perceptuality criteria, one should perceive the object with both color and size. Hence, perception of one attribute should lead to the perception of the other.

A. No. When one perceives only one attribute, say color, the vRRitti associated with it will have only that attribute. The consciousness and the existence of the subject with the object only extend to that attributive existence. For the perception of size, the vRRitti has to have the associated size attribute. Perception of one does not lead to the other. vRRitti-s associated with the other attributes have to be formed for complete and unambiguous cognition of the object.

What is implied in the perceptuality criteria is that perception is limited to the vRRitti formed of the object . If the sense data are incomplete, to that extent the object perception is also incomplete. We defined object as <limiting consciousness-existence (Brahman) + A + B + C + D + …. attributes>. For perceptuality, the limiting consciousness-existence of the subject extends to the limiting consciousness-existence of the object + whatever attributes the senses have gathered up to that point, say A and B but not C and D. Then the immediate and direct knowledge of the object relates to an object with A and B attributes but not with C and D. If C and D are imperceptible for whatever reason, then an object devoid of C and D is perceived. In the subsequent recognition process, if A and B are insufficiently discriminative to recognize the object from other similar objects based on memory, then knowledge could be erroneous. Hence VP says the definition of perceptuality is not wrongly extended.

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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