Part LII -
vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 1
We would like to make a distinction between these
two before we discuss other forms of pramANa, since
VP talks about the perception of objects in dream.
We can differentiate between Ishvara’s sRRiShTi
(creation by the Lord) and the jIva’s sRRiShTi
(creation by an individual). Creation by the Lord constitutes
the macro cosmic world or ‘total mind’ and
creation by an individual constitutes the ‘individual
mind’ or micro cosmic world, respectively. The
two can also be differentiated from an individual’s
perspective as ‘it is there; therefore, I see
it’ and ‘I see it; therefore, it is there’.
In both cases there is a common theme: ‘I see
it’, i.e. ‘it’ is established or its
existence is established by my perception.
This corresponds to the two ‘explanations’ for
creation: sRRiShTi dRRiShTi and dRRiShTi sRRiShTi. vidyAraNya
says in the Panchadasi that what is ‘out there’ is
Ishvara’s sRRiShTi and what I experience (of what
is there as well as what I project) is jIva’s
sRRiShTi. Experience is at the subject level and what
is ‘out there’ is the objective world of
plurality, which is nothing but Ishvara’s sRRiShTi.
We need to understand the interrelation between the
two that plays a role in the perceptual process. Confusion
often arises, which results in incorrect philosophical
positions, if we do not separate the two entities involved
in the perceptions.
Let us examine the macroscopic universe. Ishvara is defined
by all religions as ‘jagat kartA IshvaraH’, the
creator of this entire universe or ‘The Cause’ for
the whole universe, himself being a causeless cause or unborn
(ajo nityaH shAsvatoyam purAno ..). Most religions stop with
that description of the creator as pertaining to the intelligent
cause for the universe. vedAnta goes one step further to define
Ishvara as not only the intelligent cause or nimitta kAraNa,
but also the material cause or upAdAna kAraNa as well. We thus
have an improved definition for Ishvara as ‘jagat kAraNam
IshvaraH’, where kAraNam or cause involves undifferentiable
intelligent and material cause (abhinna nimitta upAdAna kAraNa).
By defining the material cause of the universe as also Ishvara,
and since a material cause has to pervade the effects (just
as gold pervades the ornaments), vedAnta puts Ishvara not up
in the sky but right here as the whole universe of objects.
Thus, Ishvara pervades the universe as the very substantive
for it. Ontologically, the cause and effects have different
degrees of reality. Ishvara is sentient and world is
insentient. With this, vedAnta provides a third definition
for Ishvara, for the contemplative students: ‘sarva
adhiShTAnam IshvaraH’, i.e. Ishvara forms the
substantive for all the sentient and insentient entities
in the universe.
The implication of this in the perceptual process is
very profound and is captured by advaita vedAnta. This
forms the basis for objective knowledge as attributive
knowledge, since the substantive for all objects is
Ishvara, who is imperceptible. Because Ishvara (Brahman)
is the substantive and since the senses cannot gather
substantives, all objective knowledge can only be attributive
knowledge. Because we only have non-substantive or attributive
knowledge of objects, errors in perception can also
occur at an individual level due to the incomplete attributive
knowledge gathered by the senses due to adventitious
defects, such as poor illumination, etc. Because of
the lack of substantive knowledge by the senses, the
fundamental error that ‘what I see (the world
of objects) is real’ also occurs. Even at a relative
level, errors in perception occur for the same reason.
I take for granted that the silver that I see is real,
based upon the attributive silveriness gathered and
due to lack of the substantive knowledge of nacre. Thus,
the errors at both the relative and absolute levels
are due to lack of substantive knowledge of the object.
In addition, Ishvara being the substantive for all objects,
objects do not have any substance of their own. They also lack
inherent qualities that would defines them uniquely and precisely
as their svarUpa lakshaNam (necessary and sufficient qualifications
that define an object uniquely to differentiate it from the
rest of the objects in the universe). They are only names for
forms or attributive content. For the objects constituting
the universe, the attributes that differentiate one object
from another also come as part of their creation, starting
from the primordial cause – mAyA. The blueprints for
the creation of the universe of objects are provided by the
karmas of jIva-s in the previous cycle; and, for the previous
cycle, the cycle before that. Thus the creation becomes beginningless.
mAyA is defined as the force which causes one to appear as
many, with each apparent object differentiable from others
by its attributive content.
Any force is always defined or recognized only by its
effect, as illustrated by Newton’s Laws of Motion.
For example, Newton defines a force as that which causes
an object to move from its state of rest or that which
changes the magnitude or direction of a moving object.
Conversely, the force is recognized or defined by the
changes in the movement of an object. Similarly, mAyA
is defined that which causes one to appear as many, the
metaphor being gold appearing as many ornaments. The locus
for this force is Ishvara, himself. Thus, vedAnta provides
the definition for mAyA as prakRRiti projecting the world
of plurality of movables and immovables, starting from
one, under the direction of Ishvara. Thus, Ishvara’s
sRRiShTi at the absolute level is nothing but Ishvara
himself appearing as many objects, with varieties of
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