Sunday, May 21, 2006

Shoonyavada and Mayavaada - 10


Humble prostrations to all.

This is the final mail analyzing Shrisha Rao’s mails.

We will continue from where we left in the previous post. We have already discussed in the previous mail that taking resort to the one reason of “Brahman being Nirvishesha as per Advaita” and stating that all theories of Advaita are wrong because of this is not right. Advaita accepts Nirvishesha Brahman as the ultimate reality behind the illusory world, but at the same time accepts savishesha Brahman when it comes to empirical analysis. As Sankara himself says in Brahma Sutra about the two-fold Brahman – Saguna or Savishesha which is associated with names and forms & the nirguna which is devoid of naama and roopa.

We have to remember this fact that advaita does accept savishesha at the empirical level but just says that all the empirical realities or the relativity in the world has an absolute ultimate reality of Nirvishesha Nirguna Brahman behind them as the substratum.

nanu, anyonyAsminnanyonyAtmakatAmanyonyadharmAMshchetyAdinAbhAshhyakR^itA `j~nAnamAnandAvishhayAnubhavo nityatvaM cheti santidharmA' iti paJNchapAdikAkR^itA cha brahmaNi dharmAH svIkR^itA, iti chet.h ? satyam.h na tu paramArthataH,kAlpanikAstubhAvatvAdayodharmAH shUnyavAdinA shUnyasyApiaN^gIkArAt.h yathA.ahuH shUnyavAdinaH, `bhAvArthapratiyogitvaM bhAvatvaM vA na tattvataH nAsya sattvamasattvaM vA na doshho guNa eva vA heyopAdeyarahitaM tachchhUnyaM padamaxayam.h ' -- iti

However, as per the `j~nAnamAnanda' quote from the Panchapadika,it is accepted by us that Brahman has attributes of experiencingjoy, being eternal, etc. (albeit not Real ones) -- thus say you? True. However, these are not ultimately Real, but are apparent only,and such apparent attributes are also accepted by the shUnyavAdins of their shUnya, as the `bhAvArthapratiyogitvaM' quote demonstrates.

nanu dharmAN^gIkArastAvajj~nAyate sa cha paramArthatonetikathaM j~nAyata? -- ityata Aha, `nirvisheshhatva', iti

However, the acceptance of attributes [in respect of Brahman] is known (from the Panchapadika, etc.). How is it known that these attributes are not ultimate?
-- to answer this, it is said, `nirvisheshhatva', thus.

Because [the Brahman] is accepted to be without attributes.

Here the dvaitin is again repeating the same argument without really understanding that Sat, Chit and Ananda are not the attributes of Brahman but the very nature of Brahman. This nature of Brahman is not an attribute & hence this is not against the Nirvisheshatva (being without attributes) of Brahman. Thus there is no fault whatsoever. Since Brahman can have Sat, Chit and ananda as its svaroopa, therefore the other arguments are invalid as Sat, chit and ananda are not against Nirvisheshatva of Brahman.

The main argument against these qualities or nature of Brahman is that Brahman is Nirvishesha or without attributes & hence Brahman cannot have Sat, chit etc. in it. This main argument itself is proved wrong because Sat, Chit and Ananda are the very nature of Brahman and not attributes – thus these are not at all against the Nirvisheshatva of Brahman.

Also the dvaitin here says that these attributes of Sat, Chit and ananda etc. are not ultimately real. Since shoonyavaada also accepts such things at the empirical level (the vyaavahaarika satya), therefore there is no difference between Advaita and Shoonyavaada as per this point also.

But we have already dealt and concluded that Sat, chit, ananda etc. are the very nature of Brahman and hence they are ultimately real. Thus there is difference between shoonyavada and Advaita. We have to remember here that Sat, chit and ananda are the nature of Brahman but they can be spoken of only at the empirical level but at the paaramarthika level, we cannot even speak about Brahman having Sat because there is only Brahman present at the ultimate or paaramarthika level.

yadi brahmaNo dharmAN^gIkAraH pAramArthikaH syAt.h tadAnirvisheshhatvAN^gIkAravirodhaH syAdityarthaH

If there were to be acceptance of Real attributes in Brahman, then there would be conflict with acceptance of a total lack of attributes, thus is the meaning.

Here the dvaitin says that “if Sat etc. are real attributes in Brahman, then Brahman cannot be nirvishesha” – but we have already answered this by telling that Sat etc. are not the attributes of Brahman but the very nature of Brahman (there is a vast difference between svaroopa and guna as we have already discussed previously).

nanu, `brahma' iti, `shUnyam.h' iti, sa.nj~nAbhedAd.h eva tayorbhedasiddhiriti chenna nimittabhedarahita sa.nj~nA- bhedasya arthavailaxaNyAprayojakatvAt.h tathA hi, brahmashabdasya kiM brahmaNi mukhyavR^ittiramukhyavR^ittirvA ? Adye.api kiM yogarUDhirayogarUDhirvA ? nAdyaH brahmashabdasya yaugikArthohi guNapUrNatvam.h -- `athakasmAduchyate brahmeti, bR^ihanto hi asmin.h guNAH' ityAdi shruteH na cha tvanmate brahmaNastadyuktam.h kuta, ityata Aha -- `nirvisheshhatva' iti

However, because there are two words `Brahman', and `shUnya', this fact alone proves that they must denote different things, so say you? No, that is not right. As given the lack of any cause of difference, the mere variation in usage cannot prove divergence in meaning.

Here the dvaitin is saying that if it is argued that the two words Brahman and Shoonya show difference (as the two different words are used), then it is not correct – because there is no cause of difference between what is intended behind the words.

This is not at all correct. Brahman as per Advaita means that which pervades everything, is great & is seen as the world (Brihattvat brimhanatvaat va Brahma). But shoonya means “void”. The difference between the direct meaning of the word and intended or indirect meaning of the words is also very clear. The direct meaning is very clear – Brahman is that which always exists whereas shoonya is that which never exists or has any existence. The indirect meaning of Brahman is the reality underlying the illusory world when the world is perceived. The indirect meaning of shoonya is the reality underlying the world – this reality which is a void or “non-existent” entity rather than “existent” entity.

A small description on the meaning of words in the scriptures – there are two meanings associated with a word. One is the direct meaning or ruda artha or mukhya artha or vaachya artha. This is the direct meaning of the word – for eg:- ganges means the river ganges (gangaa). The indirect meaning is that meaning which is intended by the word and is used when the direct meaning cannot convey any meaning to the sentence where it is used. For eg:- Gangaayaam ghoshah – the house on the ganges. Indirect meaning is called Lakshya artha (intended meaning). This is used when the direct meaning doesn’t make sense. “The house on the ganges” doesn’t make any sense – hence we have to take the implied meaning of “on the banks of ganges” for the word “Gangaayaam” (the ganges).

Thus there is real difference between the words used too. As per the dvaitins, they take resort to direct meanings of words and even accuse Advaita of taking resort to indirect meaning in many places. The direct meaning of Brahman and shoonya is very clear indeed & there is no need to taking resort to indirect meaning. If difference is to be proved, then indirect or implied meaning (as per the corresponding works of the schools) has to be taken. If indirect meaning is taken, then the accusation against Advaita for usage of indirect meaning in many places will be valid for the dvaitin too. Thus he will be doing things which he himself doesn’t really agree. This will lead to inconsistency in his own system – and it is but obvious then that such inconsistent systems cannot be believed by seekers & hence there will be no real followers of Dvaita system.

The dvaitin further continues the argument about the two words of Brahman and Shoonya in the following paragraph.

Then, too, when you say `Brahman', do you mean its use in the primary sense, or in a secondary sense? Even in the former case, do you mean the `yoga-rUDhi' (scholarly usage), or the `a-yoga-rUDhi'? Not the first. Because the scholarly meaning of `Brahman' is "fullness of attributes," as shown by Shruti such as `atha kasmAduchyate', etc. This meaning is not applicable in your doctrine? Why, for that the answer is given, `nirvisheshhatva', thus.

Because [the Brahman] is accepted to be without attributes.

The dvaitin gives two options for the sense or meaning of Brahman ---
1. Use in primary sense which again has scholarly usage or empirical usage (empirical usage is associated with normal people who don’t know much of scriptures).
2. Use in secondary sense

In the case of primary, there is scholarly usage which is called YOGA-RUDHI and empirical or normal worldly usage called AYOGA RUDHI. The dvaitin says that the first option of yoga-rudhi is impossible for Brahman because this meaning says that Brahman means “fullness of attributes”. Such a definition is against Advaita because Brahman as per Advaita is Nirguna and Nirvishesha.

But what the meaning of word Brahman given by the Dvaitin is not correct. The dvaitin interprets Brahman as “Brihanthi asmin gunaah ithi Brahma” (that which is full of attributes is called Brahman). But this is not correct – as per the verb Brih, Brahman means that which is great and seen as the world. This definition of greatness is not against Advaita because from empirical viewpoint Brahman is the greatest & nothing can be compared as great as Brahman. The advaitic explanation of “seen as the world” is also valid because of the sutra “Janmaadi asya yatah” (that from which the world has come, that in which the world exists & that into which the world merges, that is Brahman). This is because EFFECT is never different from the CAUSE even as the effect of pot is not different from the cause of mud. Thus the world is not different from Brahman but is just an illusion of names and forms in the substratum of Brahman which seems to be the cause when creation is considered as empirically real. It cannot be stated here that this definition from the Sutra of Brahman as Cause of the world will give the status of reality to the world, because Brahman is never the real cause of the world but just an illusory cause as the substratum of the world. This has been explained in detail in SATYA DARSHANAM of Hariram which can referred for the same. In short, Brahman cannot have any vikaara or modification and there is nothing apart from Brahman too. Thus creation from Brahman is impossible. This is what Gaudapada Karika says “Aaptha kaamasya kaa spriha” (how can there be desire for Brahman who is ever-fulfilled --- this karika is considered as part of Mandukya Sruthi by the Dvaitin). IF the dvaitin here says that the karika itself says that “Icchaa maatram prabhoh sristhih” or “Creation is just a sportive play of the Lord” and Sutra “Lokavattu leela kaivalyam” or the world is just a mere play of the Lord – this is illogical and refuted by the statement “Aaptha kaamasya kaa spriha” because this statement refuting any possibility of creation comes after giving different views of creation and to refute each of those. If again the Dvaitin argues that this aaptha kaama is meant only for the realized saint and not for Ishwara, then it is absurd --- that which is valid for a realized saint should equally be valid for the Ishwara too as ISHWARA is the greatest person and full in all attributes as per the Dvaitin – which would mean that Ishwara can never have any desire as he is perfect & complete. Thus the argument that the world is giving real status is negated & the sutra statement referring to Brahman as the cause of the world is only from the empirical view & giving the THATASTHA LAKSHANA of Brahman as the substratum of the illusory world.

Again, “fullness of attributes” as Brahman is against the various sruthi statements like “Neti, Neti” etc. Also, this would make Brahman limited by those attributes and is against the sruthi statement that “Sadeva Soumya idam agre aaseet ekameva adviteeyam” (Existence alone existed previously, one without a second”. The words “SAD EVA” is very clear. Also, as the Sutra explaining Brahman as the cause of the world shows clearly that prior to creation of the world, there was nothing but Brahman alone. It cannot be said that Brahman with attributes was there prior to creation because attributes are only with respect to the world. For eg: the attribute of SARVAJNA or all-knowing is valid only when the “all” denoting the “world” is there. Thus the dvaitin’s definition of Brahman alone is illogical and against sruthi, smrithi and sutra.

Thus the scholarly meaning of Brahman as per scriptures is not “fullness of attributes” but “that which is great and seen as the world” (the substratum of the illusion of Brahman). Since Rudhi usage put forth by the Dvaitin itself is refuted thus his argument is invalid. And Advaita’s interpretation of Brahman in scholarly usage is without fault and as per scriptures.

The usages possible in respect of Brahman are:
In the primary sense.
In the secondary sense.

For the first case, we can further create the special cases:
As used by scholars.
As used by lay folk.

deshakAlavastuparichchhedarAhityarUpamahatvameva brahmashabda-pravR^ittinimittaM, iti tu mandaM tasya shUnyavAdibhiH shUnye.apyaN^gIkR^itatvena tathAvidhayogavR^ittimato brahmashabdasya tadvailaxaNyAprayojakatvAt.h yathAha shUnyavAdI `jAD.hya saMvR^iti duHkhAntapUrvadoshhavirodhi yad.h' iti

If some dull persons suggest that lack of any restriction on account of space, time, or any other objects, would qualify as greatness which justifies the use of `Brahman', then it is pointed out that this is not useful in indicating difference from the shUnya, for the shUnyavAdI-s also accept that their shUnya is free from such defects, as per their statement `jAD.hya saMvR^iti', etc.

Tatparya Chandrika of Vyaasa Teertha states thus:

Tasmaat deshatah kaalataschaiva gunataschaapi poornathaa
Brahmathaa na tu bhedasya raahityam brahmatha ikshyathe

Therefore “Brahman-hood” means that which is full in space, time and qualities. Brahman-hood is not “being devoid of attributes”.

The above statement is made by assuming that Sruthi and experience prove difference only in the previous sloka of Tatparya Chandrika.

This is but absurd. “Brahman” has to be devoid of qualities as already proved earlier. Also time & space existing, Brahman cannot pervade and be full in them – this is illogical because when it is said that “Brahman pervades space”, that itself means that “space doesn’t really exist”. When “I” say that “I pervade the room”, then there is nothing called room because the room is removed or misplaced by “I”. Also, if time & space do exist, then they will surely limit Brahman (as there should be some relation between them) – the only alternative here is that “time” and “space” are illusory. Taking this particular stand would lead to Advaita itself.

If it be argued that space pervades everything but still is different from everything. This is again a wrong concept only. The Upanishads as well science also says that it is from space that everything came & in space that everything exists. This means that all the objects that we perceive are nothing but space alone but with a name and form. Names and forms are never real – thus we again come back to Advaita only.

On the contrary, Dvaitin will be under trouble here. If Brahman is compared with space & said that Brahman pervades everything in and out – this would mean that Brahman is partless (like space). If Brahman is devoid of parts, it cannot have any guna or attribute. GUNAAS of fatness etc, are based on parts only. This would thus in turn lead to Advaita interpretation of Brahman as Nirguna and Nirvishesha.

The Dvaitin has attacked by saying that shoonyavaadins say that shoonya is devoid of defects & Advaita also says that Brahman is devoid of time, space etc. I don’t know how both of these can be equated. Advaita doesn’t consider time, space etc. as a defect but just says that these have only empirical reality & not eternal reality.

nApi dvitIyaH asiddherapasiddhAntAchcha yathA ghaTAdi-shabdAnAM yathA ghaTatvAdikamevapravR^ittinimittamevaM brahmaNyapi brahmashabdapravR^ittinimittaM kiJNchidvAchyam.h na cha tadyuktam.h kuta ityata Aha -- `nirvisheshhatva', iti

The second case (where `Brahman' is used in the a-yaugika sense)is also not applicable. Because it does not then prove yourdoctrine, and also proves something which is fundamentally opposed to your doctrine. "As the word `pot' is applied to a substance having certain qualities, will you tell us what are the qualities possessed by your Brahman. But, according to you, Brahman has no quality. So Brahman is a mere word with you, and you cannot describe it. In fact, you cannot explain the word which you are using." Why? To answer this, it is said, `nirvisheshhatva', thus.

Because [the Brahman] is accepted to be without attributes.

Here the Dvaitin takes the empirical usage of a word and asks Advaita as to what does “Brahman” denote? In empirical usage, “pot” etc. denotes an object with qualities or attributes but since Brahman is devoid of attributes, Brahman cannot be explained at all – thus such a Brahman is invalid as per Advaita.

The dvaitin is trying to prove that through any of the possible meanings of words, Brahman is not what Advaita says but Brahman is “full of attributes” alone.

The above logic to prove that Brahman as per Advaita cannot have an empirical usage is wrong. Brahman does have an empirical usage to it as well as “Brahman” even though cannot be described can very well be described. JThe words might be confusing but it is very simple indeed.

Brahman cannot be described as an object – because it is the Subject of all activities. Thus Brahman can very well be described or indicated as the SUBJECT of all activities or SAKSHI of all activities. This is very well logical. When Advaita says that Brahman cannot be described, we only mean that Brahman cannot become an object of any activity. This is because Brahman is the SUBJECT of all activities who can never become an object. And it doesn’t mean that there is nothing called Brahman.

Vidyaranya thus says in Pancha kosha viveka prakaranam of Panchadashi

Svameva anubhootitvaat vidhyathe na anubhaavyatha
Jnaatru jnaanaantharaabhaavaath atreyo na tu asattayaa

Since it exists by itself, therefore it cannot be experienced & not that “it doesn’t exist”. There is no other SUBJECT to experience it, thus it is not experienced and not because of non-existence (which is the characteristic of shoonyam or void).

Thus empirical usage of Brahman as the SUBJECT is valid and logical.

etena tR^itIyo.api nirastaH amukhyavR^ittiritidvitIyapaxe.apikiM brahmashabdasya brahmaNi gauNIvR^ittirlaxaNa vA ? nAdyaH pravR^ittinimittAtiriktamukhyArthaguNayoge hi gauNI dR^ishhTA na cha atra mukhyArthaguNayogo.asti kuta, ityata Aha --`nirvisheshha', iti

By this, even the third option stands refuted (because no difference is seen between `Brahman' and `shUnya' merely on the basis of there being two words). If it be held that the word `Brahman' is used by the mAyAvAdI in a secondary sense, even then, is the word `Brahman' used to denote Brahman by indicating some secondary characteristic (one found in Brahman and also in others, such as "ears" for a cow, which are also found in other animals), or a primary characteristic? Not the first. Because such would only apply if Brahman were to have the characteristic of "Brahman-ness" although that is not its primary characteristic. Then, too, here, no primary characteristic (even other than "Brahman-ness") can be accepted [of Brahman]. Why? For that the answer is, `nirvisheshhatva', thus.

Because [the Brahman] is accepted to be without attributes.

BRAHMAN and SHOONYA are obviously two different words which have two different meanings from all kinds of usages.

Here the dvatin attacks the meaning of Brahman in a secondary sense trying to show that Brahman and shoonya mean the same thing. The Dvaitin says that “if Brahman is used in secondary sense, how is Brahman indicated? Is it by some primary characteristic or secondary characteristic? It cannot be primary characteristic as Brahman is devoid of qualities. It is also not secondary characteristic as there is no “Brahman-hood” or any other quality which is not specific to Brahman & found in other objects”.

For secondary meaning, there should be some indicating characteristic of Brahman – the dvaitin proves that this characteristic cannot be primary as Brahman doesn’t have any primary qualities. It is not some other secondary characteristic as there is no object which has same quality as Brahman (because Brahman-hood is there only for Brahman and other qualities are there only for the objects different from Brahman).

These objections are also invalid. Even though Brahman doesn’t have primary characteristic but it does have a nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. These are the characteristic which indicate Brahman by telling that “Brahman is that which never ceases, that which never is unconscious and that which never is sorrowful or finite”. Thus this is logical enough to show that Brahman can be indicated in a secondary sense too.

This definition of SAT CHIT ANANDA as Brahman is different from shoonya wherein the reality is ASAT or void. There need not be any more explanation on the same as the meaning and import are very evident.

na dvitIyaH mukhyArthasambandhini arthAntarevR^ittirlaxaNA na cha brahmaNo mukhyArthasambandho.asti kuta, ityata Aha,`nirvisheshha', iti
Not the second case [either]. Because a `laxaNa' has to be a primary characteristic not found elsewhere. But the Brahman cannot have a primary characteristic. Why, for that, we say, `nirvisheshha', thus.

Because [the Brahman] is accepted to be without attributes.

The above objection has already been mentioned in the previous section.

brahmaNi brahmashabdavachchhUnyavAdinA shUnye.api shUnyashabdasyalaxaNAN^gIkArAchcha yathoktaM shUnyavAdinA, `avAchyaM sarva-shabdaistallaxyate chAkhilaiH padaiH' iti
If it be claimed that Brahman has *apparent* characteristics which would justify the name, then even the shUnyavAdI accepts such *apparent* characteristics of his shUnya as well [thus the existence of two names does not prove different concepts]. As has been stated by the shUnyavAdI-s, `avAchya', etc.

Brahman never has any apparent characteristics but has the nature of SAT, CHIT and ANANDA. That these are the nature of Brahman and not qualities has already been proved. These characteristics are different from that of shoonya. Shoonya is also avaachya not because it is the SUBJECT but because it doesn’t exist. This is very well refuted by vidyaranya in the above quoted sloka as “NA tu asattayaa” (not because Brahman is non-existent but only because it is the SUBJECT which cannot become an object – that Brahman cannot be described as description is making Brahman an object of speech or vaak)

tasmAchchhUnyabrahmaNoravisheshhAnnaparaprameyeshUnyavAdAn. hmAyAvAdasyavailaxaNyam.h aparaprameye vailaxaNyAbhAvaupapAdanatatprAgeva kiJNchitkR^itamiti chaturtho.api nirastaeva, iti
Therefore, it cannot be said that there is any difference betweenshUnyavAda and mAyAvAda, on account of the difference between the shUnya and the Brahman. Therefore, since other possible sources of difference (between sat.h and sadasat.h, mAyA and samvR^iti, and conceptions of moxa) have already been dealt with, it follows that even in this fourth instance, the claim of difference stands refuted, thus.

As has already been proved, there is difference between shoonya and Brahman. Whatever objection the Dvaitin has raised till now has been answered & all those clearly prove that Brahman and Shoonya are clearly different even though various terms seem to be equivalent. It may happen that some things seem same but are never the same – similarly Mayavaada and shoonyavaada are never the same as Advaitic Brahman is something existent & shoonya is something non-existent.

evaM mAyAvAdasya shUnyavAdasAmyamupapAdyopasaMharati
-- "Having thus established the non-difference between the Mayavadins and the Sunyavadins, the Commentator concludes:

-- taH shUnyavAdina eva te.api
"Therefore, it follows that the Mayavadins are the same as Sunyavadins."

Having shown that whatever objections or arguments are made to show that Mayavaaada and shoonyavaada are same are wrong and illogical, it follows that Mayavaadins are not the same as Shoonyavaadins.

Moreover, Mayavaadin take resort to Maya just to answer the illusion of world at the empirical – they believe in Adviteeya Brahman alone & therefore it is appropriate to call Advaita as Brahmavaada from ultimate viewpoint & Mayavaada from empirical view point.

... concluded.

asat.h pade.asansadasadviviktaM mAyAkhyayA samvR^itimabhyadhatta
brahmApyakhaNDaM batashUnyasiddhyai prachchhannabauddho.ayamataH prasiddhaH

The above conclusions only show that Advaita is something beyond normal perception & it requires open-mindedness to apprehend the reality of Brahman as per the scriptures. Unless there is open-mindedness, all sorts of doubts/arguments/objections will be raised. All these are because of “improper understanding” as well as “lack of proper sadhana” to apprehend the reality of Adviteeya Brahman.

Let us all unlike people who just ask questions and raise objections try to follow the SADHANA and apprehend the ultimate reality of Adviteeya Brahman which is very well proved through sruthi, yukthi and anubhava.

With this we come to an end to the analysis of Shrisha Rao’s mail and have answered the objections raised that Advaita system and Shoonyavaada are one and the same. We come to an end to the analysis of Shrisha Rao’s mail.

We will try to analyze how various advaita acharyas from Sankara to Madhusudana Saraswathi attacked the system of Shoonyavaada and clearly show that Advaita and shoonyavaada are not the same in the next mail which will be the final mail in this series.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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