Mayavada Darpanam

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Attack on vishaya of Advaita - 3


Prostrations to all.

Madhva initially put forth the argument that Advaita cannot be really started which was refuted through the three reasons that “Advaita is supported by sruthi”, “Brahman is accepted as a vishaya when ignorance is there” and “as it is logical enough”.

We will now continue with Madhva’s logical hair-splitting attack on the vishaya of Advaita.

Madhva continues thus:
Na hi brahma atma aikyasya yaathaarthyam tat pakshe
Advaita haaneh svaroopa athireka
Anathireke svaprakaashatvaad aatmanah siddha saadhanathaa

“Brahma Atma aikyam cannot be real in his (advaitin’s) view. If Brahma Atma aikya is different from the nature, then it will lead to fallacy or deviation from advaita (will lead to dvaita) – if it is not different from the nature or Self, then since Self is self-luminous, it will lead to the fault of establishing what is already established for the Self as well as the Sruthi”.

It is but a fact that Madhva in most of his works explains things in as few words as possible but making the seeker having to analyze in depth the few words which will make no sense at all without adding enough words and explanations to it. It is but fortunate enough that we have Jaya Teertha annotating on almost all of Madhva’s works even as Ananda Giri annotated on most of the works of Sankara.

The above words of Madhva as well as the translation in English (given in double quotes) is so crisp and short that it cannot be understood properly without the commentaries of Jaya Teertha and other acharyas. It also thus requires lot of explanations in order to understand those crisp words correctly.

Madhva initially argued that Advaita cannot be started. Now he progresses further. His words might be taken as such: “Let’s say that Advaita can be started, but still the vishaya will lead to illogical conclusions and hence we will come back to the same conclusion that Advaita cannot be started”. If it is questioned as to how, it goes like this:

Brahma Atma Aikya is the vishaya of Advaita. Now is this Brahma Atma Aikya ayaathaarthyam (unreal) or yaathaarthyam (real)???

Brahma Atma Aikya cannot be unreal as in that case the vishaya itself becomes unreal – and thus Advaita cannot be started in such a case. Thus the first alternative of Brahma Atma Aikya being unreal is ruled out.

Taking the second and only possible alternative of Brahma Atma Aikya being real, is this Brahma Atma Aikya (which is real) the same as the svaroopa (Self) or different from the svaroopa (Self)???
If Brahma Atma Aikya is different from the svaroopa, then this means that we have two real entities of svaroopa and Brahma Atma Aikya (as this particular alternative is that Brahma Atma Aikya is real). Thus this leads to loss of advaita or leads to dvaita. This is against Advaita and goes against the basic theory of the philosophy itself causing logical fallacies in the system which in turn makes a seeker not to start or learn Advaita.

If Brahma Atma Aikya is the same as the svaroopa, since Advaitic concept of Svaroopa or Self is that it is svaprakaasha or self-luminous, therefore the Self is ever present and cannot become the vishaya. If it is considered as a vishaya, it leads to the logical fault of siddha saadhanathaa dosha or establishing what is already established. Also since sruthi propounds that vishaya of Self (which is same as Brahma Atma Aikya and ever-present), therefore sruthi also incurs the fault of establishing the Self which is already established. Thus the system comes under the logical fault called as siddha saadhana dosha. Such an illogical system thereby shouldn’t be started.

Thus whatever way the vishaya of Brahma Atma aikya is taken, it leads to illogical conclusions alone. Thus Advaita which propounds an illogical vishaya cannot be started at all.


Madhva’s work requires lot of explanation as it is highly logical and tough to apprehend. The above was a mere translation of Madhva’s three sentences based on the sub commentaries and whatever Madhva is pointing out. We will now try to see in depth what Madhva is trying to point out so that we may understand it clearly beyond doubts.

Advaita speaks about the vishaya as Brahma Atma Aikya. There are few doubts and questions that can be raised as to the nature of this Brahma Atma Aikya. The hierarchies of questions are as depicted below:

Is Brahma Atma Aikya unreal or real????
- Unreal – in such a case, the vishaya is invalid and hence Advaita cannot be started.
- Real - is Brahma Atma aikya different from or same as svaroopa or Self???
Different from Self – this leads to two realities of Self and Brahma Atma Aikya (Which is real). Thus this leads to loss or deviation from advaita (or one reality alone).
Same as Self – If it is same as Self, since Self is ever-present, this leads to establishing the ever-present Self and sruthi too gets the fault of establishing what is already established or siddha saadhanathaa dosha.

Madhva is in fact using high-end logic to trap the advaitin beyond any escape. Madhva raises one simple question as to the very nature of Brahma Atma Aikya and shows that whatever way the question is answered, it leads to illogical conclusions thus making it clear that Advaita cannot be started (which was stated by him previously through an anumaana).

As per Advaita, Brahma Atma Aikya is not ultimately real because the Self is ever present and hence even the vishaya is but an illusion alone. But here, if the Advaitin answers that Brahma Atma Aikya is unreal, then the vishaya becomes unreal and hence illogicality arises. Thus Madhva forces the Advaitin to take the view that Brahma Atma Aikya is real only. The fault with Madhva’s objection here is that as proved earlier by the advaitin, the vishaya is real as long as avidya is there – only when avidya vanishes, the vishaya also becomes unreal. So long as a person is dreaming, the dream world is real and not unreal. The dream world becomes unreal only when the dreamer wakes up. Similarly so long as avidya is there, vishaya is real and not unreal. And shaastra study is undertaken only when avidya is there – thus vishaya is real. But since when vishaya sublates only realization happens, therefore vishaya is not eternally real also. Thus Vedanta says that avidya is neither real nor unreal but it is anirvachaneeya or indescribable. Since vishaya is present when avidya is there, thus vishaya also is anirvachaneeya with respect to its reality status – it is neither real nor unreal. The vishaya is real as long as avidya is there (empirically real) but it is unreal (ultimately unreal) when avidya vanishes.

Thus advaitin’s answer doesn’t come to any of the two alternatives given by Madhva for the very first question as to the reality status of Brahma Atma Aikya.

The only argument that opponent schools give for anirvachaneeyatva is that “there is no entity which is neither real nor unreal – an entity is either real or unreal” – this is what dvaitins argue as well as Ramanuja too gives in his most famous saptha vidha anupapatthi portion of sri bhashya (wherein he gives seven logical fallacies as to Avidya).

Anirvachaneeyatva can be very well explained in the case of all illusions like snake seen in rope and dream world. The snake seen in rope is not real because real is that which is ever present (as the snake vanishes once it is known that there is no snake but only rope is present). The snake is not unreal also as unreal is that which never exists but the snake is currently perceived. Thus it is illusory or anirvachaneeya or indescribable. Thus illusions are neither real nor unreal. This is the same case with the vishaya of Advaita and avidya.

Madhva thus not taking this view clearly, closes upon the advaitin by giving the advaitin only the second alternative as to the reality status of Brahma Atma aikya – the alternative being that it is real.

Now Madhva again raises another question considering that Brahma Atma Aikya is real – is Brahma Atma Aikya different from the Self or is it same???

If Brahma Atma Aikya is different from the Self which is real (self or Brahman can be taken here as the final reality of Advaita and which alone is real), then there ensues two real entities which is against advaita’s stand that there is only one real entity. Thus this alternative that Brahma Atma Aikya is different from the Self cannot be accepted by the Advaitin.

The only possible and left over alternative is that Brahma Atma Aikya is same as the Self. The Self as per Advaita is self-luminous and ever-shining & not being objectified by any light. Since Self is ever-present, thus if it becomes the vishaya of Brahma Atma Aikya, it would be like presenting the ever-present Self or establishing the already established Self. Thus this leads to the fault of establishing what is already established.

SIDDHA SAADHANAATHAA DOSHA – fault of establishing what is already established
What is already established need not be again established through logic or any other means because it is already known. Thus that which is established has to be something which is not already established.

Since sruthi propounds the vishaya which is already established, sruthi also establishes that which is already established. Thus sruthi, which is considered faultless, has the fault of establishing what is already established.

This is illogical and points out that sruthi upon which advaita depends is faulty – thus the system of advaita which depends on a faulty vishaya and faulty sruthi has to be faulty too. Since advaita is faulty, it cannot be started.

It is interesting to note here that it is Jaya Teertha who points out that siddha saadhanathaa dosha is incurred by sruthi as the original text of Madhva doesn’t directly point to sruthi incurring the fault – it should be said that such was the insight of Jaya Teertha that he could deduce things which were not directly mentioned by Madhva!!!

Madhva does one more attack on the vishaya of Advaita which we will learn after advaita’s answer to Madhva’s above attack. We will see the answer of advaitin in Mayavaada Darpanam in the next mail.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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