Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 39

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem
D. Venugopal

D. Venugopal is a student of Swami Paramarthananda and a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda. He has successfully completed the long-term residential course in Vedanta and Sanskrit conducted from May 2002 to July 2005 at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti.




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V - Potness is an incidental or mithyA attribute of clay

We have also to understand as to how it is possible to equate the mere clay with the clay that has form, function and name. For this, we should know the relationship of form, function and name, which is the pot, with the material cause, which is clay. The exact position is that mere clay now appears as potty-clay. We recognise a thing as a pot by its potness. Now, we have to see as to where this potness exists.


Let us consider the situation before the pot was produced from clay. Before the production of the pot, the pot is not in existence. As for the existence of potness, it cannot exist in a non-existent pot. Potness cannot also exist in an object, which is not a pot. If potness can neither exist in a non-existent pot nor in a non-pot, it can exist only in the clay from which the pot comes to be produced.


Let us consider the position after the pot is produced. If we see whether potness exists in the pot, we find that pot is itself unsubstantial as, when the clay is removed from the pot, the pot ceases to exist. Potness cannot exist in something that is not a substance. So, potness cannot exist in the pot. As before, potness also cannot exist in a non-pot. Then where can potness be, if it can neither be in the non-pot or in the pot? Again, it can be only in clay.


But if potness exists in clay, then we will have a problem; for, wherever there is clay, there will have to be a pot. But this is not the case since clay exists even when it is not a pot. Then where can the potness exist? It exists only in clay but not intrinsically. Since potness is not intrinsic to clay, clay need not exist only as a pot. Clay can be a pot incidentally. Potness is, therefore, an incidental attribute [260] of clay, or an attributed (kalpita) quality of clay or a super-imposition (äropita) on clay. This incidental attribute is perceived to be present; but it has no substantiality of its own. So, its reality status is mithyä. Thus, clay, which is the substantive satyam [261], has the incidental mithyä attribute of pot. It is in this context that clay is said to be the sub-stratum and pot as the super-imposition. The sub-stratum is satyam while the super-imposition is mithya.


The mithyä name, form and function cannot be treated as a separate entity and added to satyam, as mithyä indicates their lack of substantiality. The moment we recognise that the name, form and function are fully dependent on clay and are without substantiality of their own, the mithyä attribute mentally resolves into satyam clay. Therefore, in terms of reality, we commit no mistake in equating clay with name, form and function to clay without them.


VI – Between satyam and mithyä, there is no connection


The question arises as to how satyam and mithyä are connected. The answer is that there is no connection between them. Connection is possible only between two things, which have substantiality of their own. That is, only if there is another satyam, we can speak of any connection between them. But, there is no second satyam to make this possible. As for the basis-based  (ädhära-ädheya) connection between them, it can also exist only if they are two distinct entities. But this is not so. The position is that mithyä does not exist apart from satyam like the pot not existing without clay. They are not two separate things. The relationship between them is that mithyä is non-separate from satyam; but satyam is independent of mithya. That is, pot cannot exist without clay and is not separate from clay; but clay can exist by itself without being the pot or anything else. Therefore, when we say that everything is based on Brahman, or everything is a superimposition on it, we must understand that everything owes its existence to Brahman and is not separate from Brahman, without Brahman having any connection with it.

260. Taöastha-lakñaëam.
261. Satyam is also referred to as sat or satya.

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Page last updated: 10-Apr-2017