Mayavada Darpanam

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Attack on Advaita vishaya - 8


Prostrations to all.

Madhva had as the final argument attacked the vishaya of Advaita on that it is nirvishesha and hence cannot have any unknown quality. And thus ajnaana cannot veil the Self as the advaitin claims. When ajnaana or the veiling of the Self by ignorance or the state of bandha is negated totally or proved as illogical, advaita falls into pieces as avidya or maya is one of the basic concepts of advaita.

But we have to remember that advaita never says that avidya or ajnaana really veils the Self – advaita only says that avidya seems to veil the Self. Ultimately there is no avidya at all to even speak about – it is only when avidya seems to be present for the seeker that it seems to veil the Atman – thus starts thought of bandha and seeking moksha etc. The advaitin will be pointing out Sankara’s statement in the 13th chapter that avidya exists only for one who perceives it. The word meaning of avidya is “yaa na vidhyathe saa avidyaa – that which never exists is avidya”. Avidya only seems to be temporarily present for one who thinks it is present. Therefore moksha is there only for who is in bandha – if bandha is not there, then there is no moksha as well.

This is the reason why it is said that the Atman is Nitya shuddha Buddha muktha svabhaava --- of the nature of ever pure, ever enlightened and ever liberated. If we keep this in mind, then most of the arguments of Madhva are automatically refuted as it is a logical analysis whereas avidya can never be logically analyzed as it is there only for the person who perceives it. Thus traditional acharyas speak about maya as yukthiviheena prakaashasya samjnaa maayaa – that which is beyond logic is termed as maya.

When we analyze avidya with respect to illusory experiences in the world, it will become very clear. Let us take the example of water seen in desert. Water seen in desert is due to lack of proper knowledge of the desert or ignorance of the nature of desert. This experience of water in desert cannot be proved through logic because it is only for the person who experiences it. Thus the ignorance of desert is valid only for those who are experiencing it. Ultimately, there is neither ignorance nor knowledge of the water in desert because water in desert itself is unreal (non-existent). Similar is the case with avidya. Avidya seems to be present only for those who perceive/experience it. Ultimately, there is no avidya at all and hence there is neither bandha nor moksha.

Let us now see what the advaitin says about madhva’s argument:

Shaastrah avidhyavashaad vismritha atmanah svasvaroopameva prathipaadhayathi ‘tattvamasi’ ithyaadibhirdarshanaath

Scriptures proclaim about the atman as being “forgotten due to avidya” and mention the atman as one’s own very nature in the various statements like ‘Tat tvam asi’ (Chandogya Upanishad).

Svasvaroopam vishayee bhavathi Atah tat nirvishesham bhavathi

One’s own nature or svaroopa is always vishayee or Subject. And hence the atman is nirvishesha.

Tathaapi vismrithivashaat, svasvaroopatvaat cha, nirvishesha aatmanah anadhigatho bhavathi – etasmaat na visheshatvaangeekaaraat, vismrithavishayatvaat cha yathooktam ‘nirviseshatvaaccha aatmanah na anadhigatho visheshah’ tat asatyam tuccham cha

Still, as a result of “forgetting” and since it is one’s own very nature, nirvishesha atman is unknown.

And as there is no real vishesha accepted and since it is the object due to forgetfulness, what you have said that nirvishesha atman cannot have the quality of “unknown” is completely wrong and very mean.


Chandogya Upanishad proclaims the statement of TAT TVAM ASI or THAT THOU ART 9 times in the sixth chapter or Svethakethu braahmana. This statement in turn implies that the Self is one’s own very nature and has been forgotten due to avidya or ignorance. Avidya is the name given to this ignorance of one’s own nature of Self. Avidya cannot really be explained which we will be seeing at a later time.

Krishna mentions in Gita in many places that the Lord resides in the heart of all beings and in the 5th chapter explains about ajnaana and it being removed by jnaana thus:

Jnaanena tu tad ajnaanam yeshaam naashitham aatmanah
Teshaam adityavad jnaanam prakaashayathi tat param

That ajnaana which destroys the Self is removed through knowledge and through this Jnaana or Consciousness, Self shines as the Sun and that is the ultimate state.

Atman or Self is one’s very nature and hence destruction of the same is not possible. Hence we have to imply from Krishna’s statements that the Atman is not really forgotten but seemingly forgotten as one’s own nature can never really be forgotten. But it is one’s experience of not knowing the blissful nature of the Atman. Thus it has been forgotten empirically but never really forgotten as such. But when this seemingly appearing ignorance is removed through knowledge of the Self, the Self shines as the Sun or ever-blissful self-conscious entity.

Thus scriptures do accept forgetfulness of the Self due to avidya and this is the vishaya of the scriptures as proved earlier. Since the scriptures proclaim the Self as one’s own very nature, it is nirvishesha or without any qualities.

Why is the Self without any qualities???
Svaroopa is always the Subject. Subject is the witness to all qualities and hence can never be with visheshanas or with qualities. If we accept the Self as not the Subject, then we will have to assume another Subject who is the base for the Self. And if we say that this Subject is the Lord or Vishnu, then this goes against one’s own experience in dream and deep sleep state. In deep sleep state, there is no ishwara experienced and in dream, it is one’s own creation and not creation of the Lord as per one’s samskaaras. Thus it is illogical to say that the Subject for the Self is Ishwara. Thus the Self is the Subject of all experiences as a person continuously experiences it.

This Subject is of the nature of Consciousness. Consciousness is without parts and any qualities as it cannot have any interaction directly with other things. It is only when there is the Reflected Consciousness or jeeva that interactions with things in the world and all activities have validity.

Thus the Subject is nirvishesha and as the Self is the Subject, it is nirvishesha.

This is the stand of advaita on the Atman or the nature of Atman.

But even though Atman is nirvishesha, it is as if forgotten as proved through the gita statement and chandogya statement. And since sruthi propounds the forgotten-atman, therefore the Atman can have and does have the quality of “unknown”.

This quality of “unknown” for the Atman is valid only as long as the Atman seems to be forgotten. For a person who has realized that there is neither bandha nor moksha or that there is never the forgotten Atman, there will be no such quality & he will realize that the Atman cannot have any quality whatsoever as such (because it is the Vishayee or Subject).

But the Self can have the quality of “unknown” as long as the seeker experiences avidya or ignorance. This is what the advaitin says thus:

The Nirvisehsha Atman seems to be forgotten, due to vismrithi and since it is svasvaroopa, it is only seemingly forgotten and not really.

But since there is no visheshatva accepted for the Atman (at the paaramarthika level or ultimate level) and since it is the vishaya of vismrithi at the empirical level, therefore what Madhva had said that “Nirvishesha atman cannot have the quality of unknown” is wrong.

The Atman is accepted to be forgotten only at the empirical level and only as long as avidya seems to exist. Ultimately, there is no quality accepted in the Atman and it is the svaroopa, therefore there is no fault on the nirvisheshatva of the Atman.

As the quality of unknown is only at the empirical level and not at the paaramarthika level, it is fully logical. Thus whatever the dvaitin had said and argued are completely wrong and mean.

It is only wrong knowledge or incomplete knowledge of the three levels of reality that causes all such arguments to be shaped and raised.

Here the dvaitin might argue that the three levels of reality is completely against sruthi and yukthi, we will try to see the same in a different thread and as a different topic. For now, it is sufficient for the seeker to know that there are three levels and the paaramarthika level alone is real and other levels are illusory. Dvaita is totally accepted at the other two levels of vyaavahaarika and praathibhaasika but ultimately dvaita is only an illusion. Some acharyas like chitsukha and sri harsha even attack dvaita and prove that dvaita is invalid and illogical even at the empirical level. But advaita does accept dvaita at the empirical level and just adds a clause to it that “it is only an illusion and not ultimately real”.

Madhva next argued that since the Self is ever-established and since it is devoid of visheshaas, ajnaana cannot veil the Self as the advaitin claims.

This argument of madhva is also wrong because the ever-established Self is never really veiled by ajnaana as per Advaita. Ajnaana only seems to veil the Self at the empirical level and since advaita never accepts the Self to be really veiled, there is no fault in the same. Vishesha of ajnaana aavarana (ignorance veiling) is accepted only at the empirical level and never at the ultimate level, thus this is neither illogical nor does it affect the ever-established Self. Veiling of the Atman by ajnaana is possible as this is only at the empirical level & since ajnaana is experienced by one who is ignorant, therefore there are no logical issues in the same.

Thus all the arguments of Madhva on the vishaya of Brahma Atma Aikya of advaita has been completely answered and refuted.

Next madhva makes a bold statement against ajnaana which we will see in the next mail and after that we will see the detailed explanation of the advaitin on the same.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


Post a Comment

<< Home