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Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 43


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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II - Recognising ätmä and anätmä or satyam and mithyä in every cognition

It must be noted that the resolution done is purely mental. It does not physically affect what is logically resolved. It only changes our understanding of it. Only in those cases where one is entirely mistaken to be another that does not exist, what is negated disappears; for instance, when a rope is mistaken for the non-existing snake and the mistake is corrected, the rope entirely displaces the negated snake. [280] But here, the error is like taking the sun to rise and set everyday based on our perception even when the sun never rises or sets. Even after the mistake is corrected, the sun rises and sets since what is corrected by astronomy is not our perception but only our conclusion based on our perception. [281]

 

In the matter under discussion also, it is the conclusion about the essential reality of the various levels of manifestation and taking ätmä to be them that is corrected by Vedänta. Knowledge dispels only the wrong conclusion about the reality status of the manifestation. Çästra does not negate the name, form and function of the manifestation. It says when we see the jéva or the jagat as existing, it is the adhiñöhäna Brahman-ätmä alone that exists. When we say, “Éçvara is”, “the jéva is”, “the jagat is” or “the sun is”, or “the dust is” or “ignorance is”, the “is-ness” belongs only to Brahman-ätmä. All cognitions have two components – the “is” cognition, which is, sat buddhi and the name and form cognition, which is asat [282] or anätmä or mithyä cognition.

 

The is-cognition is invariable in all cognitions. When we see a pot, there is pot-buddhi or pot cognition and we say, “the pot is”. Suppose, we look at Swamiji, the pot-buddhi is gone and Swamiji-buddhi is there in its place and we say, “Swamiji is”. The pot goes as it is asat [283] and sat that is always there is now recognized as being with Swamiji as “is”. When we shift our attention from Swamiji to the notebook, Swamiji-buddhi is gone and note-book-buddhi comes. The sat, which is always there, is now recognized as being with the notebook. Even as we shift our attention away from the notebook, the ‘notebook-buddhi’ goes and some other buddhi will be there. This changing object-buddhi is called asat-buddhi or anätma-buddhi or mithyä-buddhi. The ‘is-buddhi’ whether it is of the pot, or of Swamiji or of the notebook or of any other never goes and is unchanging in every cognition. This is the sat-buddhi. In other words, in every perception, there are two buddhis - the ‘object buddhi’, which is asat-buddhi or anätmä-buddhi or mithyä-buddhi and the ‘is-buddhi, which is ‘sat-buddhi’. The jagat, our body-mind-sense-complex [284] and Ésvara are object-buddhi and are asat, anätmä or mithyä while the is-buddhi is satyam, which is Brahman-ätmä.

 

III – Recognizing satyam in the mithyä manifestation

It is possible to recognize satyam in every mithyä manifestation. For example, when we look at the pot made of clay, the pot is mithyä, since it is dependent on clay for its existence. But if we see the pot as clay, then it is satyam, since clay has independent existence. Then pot becomes satya-clay with the mithyä attribute of the pot. Our normal way of seeing the manifestation is in terms of its name, form and function, which is mithyä. However, if we understand it in terms of its adhiñöäna, which is Brahman, then it is satyam Brahman with mithyä name, form and function. Thus, everything can be recognized as Brahman with mithyä attributes.

 

IV - Saguëa-brahman exists only from the standpoint of avidyä

The presentation of Brahman in its mäyä-upädhi, as the manifestor, sustainer and resolver of the universe has led to the concept of Brahman with qualities or saguëa-brahman. For differentiating this saguëa-brahman from Brahman, Brahman gets to be called as nirguëa-brahman. As regards Brahman possessing qualities, we had seen that in the case of pot, potness is only an incidental or mithyä attribute of clay since clay is not always in the form of the pot. The qualities that Brahman appears to possess in the mäyä-upädhi are also purely incidental being the outcome of upädhi and are not satyam but are mithyä. They cannot modify Brahman without any quality into Brahman with qualities. Brahman, which is satyam, remains unchanged by mithyä manifestation. Only from the standpoint of avidyä, in which the knowledge of satyam and mithyä are not there, saguëa-Brahman exists; from the enlightened angle, Brahman in mäyä-upädhi is Éçvara.

 

280. This is called nirüpädhika adhyäsa or tadätmya adhyäsa.
281.This is called sopädhika adhyäsa or saàsarga adhyäsa.
282. Here, asat has the meaning of mithyä.
283.
Here, asat has the meaning of mithyä..
284.
In Chapter 7, we had seen as to how the body-mind-sense complex is a dåçya, or an object.

To be continued...

 

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