Mayavada Darpanam

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Attack on prayojana of Advaita - 2


Prostrations to all.


Prostrations to all.

We saw in the last mail the arguments of Madhva and Jayateertha against the prayojana of advaita which was termed as ajnaana nivritti or removal of ignorance. Madhva argued that since atman is the very nature of a person, therefore moksha which is atman (ajnaana nivritti is mentioned as atman alone by advaitins) will become established even before it is attained. Thus moksha will be present always & there is no need to seek moksha or liberation as advaita claims. Moreover ajnaana itself being not established ajnaana nivritti is totally out of scope.

Madhva continues his attack on prayojana thus:
Ajnaana asambhavena chathurthaprakaara abhaavaat panchamaprakaarathaa api nirasthaa

Since ajnaana itself is not possible (established), therefore the fourth type (ontological status) for ajnaana is not possible – hence there is no question of a fifth type (ontological status) of ajnaana nivritti.


It is very tough to translate Sanskrit words into English and that too when it is crisp like that of Madhva, it is very tough indeed. As we saw in the last mail in the series as to the usage of minimal words by Madhva which was explained in depth by Jaya Teertha, here too we find Madhva following the same pattern of usage of very few words.

Pardon the logical analysis going to follow.

There are four ontological statuses to which entities can cater to – these four are:
1. Sat – that which exists at all times (trikaala abhaadhitam sat – that which is not negated in three times of past, present and future is Sat). An example of Sat is the ultimate reality of Brahman accepted by all systems as ever existing beyond time.
2. Asat – that which doesn’t exist at all times. An example of this is the son of a barren woman, a cottage in space (gandharva nagaram), horns of a hare etc. These are entities which never exist in the past or present or future.
3. Sat and Asat – that which is both Sat as well as ASat. This is a kind of definition with respect to sat and asat – this type of definition is never valid as we cannot find sat and asat together in any entity as both are contradictory to each other.
4. Neither sat nor asat – that which is neither ever existent nor ever non-existent. This is what Advaita calls as anirvachaneeya or indescribable – that which can never be mentioned as either real or unreal.

Advaita says that illusions are anirvachaneeya or indescribable. An illusion like water seen in desert is not SAT because it ceases to exist once the substratum is known. It is not ASAT because it is currently perceived (at the time of illusion). It cannot be SAT-ASAT because such a combination is not at all possible even as darkness-light combination is not possible. Thus the illusion is mentioned as anirvachaneeya or “neither sat nor asat” – the word anirvachaneeya means that it can neither be mentioned as SAT nor as ASAT. An illusion is thus neither sat nor asat. Ajnaana or avidya is anirvachaneeya or neither sat nor asat – it is not sat because it vanishes after knowledge dawns (as proclaimed by Gita and the Upanishads). It is not asat because it is currently perceived or experienced directly as well as in the form of its effect of the world (asat is that which is not there in all the three times of past, present and future).

Thus ajnaana is mentioned in Advaita as of the fourth type or anirvachaneeya (which is the fourth type of ontological status).

This fourth type has been criticized by the dvaitins and vishista advaitins through the statement that an entity can be either sat or asat – there cannot be any fourth-type as such. The anirvachaneeya or mithyaa definition of various advaita acharyas was criticized by Vyaasa Teertha in Nyaayamritha and more than sufficiently answered by Madhusudana Saraswathi in Advaita Siddhi.

Madhva here mentions that since ajnaana itself is not possible, therefore the fourth-type status is also not possible or valid for ajnaana. Thus ajnaana itself being invalid, ajnaana nivritti is out of question. Therefore prayojanam of advaita as ajnaana nivritti is ruled out. Thus advaita is without any prayojanam and hence cannot be started (anaarambhaneeyam).

We till now discussed about ajnaana having the status of anirvachaneeya. There is yet another discussion on the status of ajnaana nivritti. Ajnaana nivritti has to be of a different status than that of ajnaana which is anirvachaneeya. Many advaitins accept that ajnaana nivritti is atman alone and hence need not be termed as anirvachaneeya or asat but as sat itself at the empirical level (this was criticized by Jaya Teertha through attack of different variations of the same definition of ajnaana nivritti as atman). But Vimuktatman who wrote the Istasiddhi opines that ajnaana nivritti cannot be anirvachaneeya as ajnaana is anirvachaneeya. Thus ajnaana nivritti is neither sat nor asat and not even anirvachaneeya. Instead ajnaana nivritti is of a fifth type which is different from the four types of sat, asat, sat-asat, neither sat nor asat. This view is commonly known as “panchamaprakaara” of ajnaana nivritti.

Madhva here says that since ajnaana itself is not valid and fourth-type of anirvachaneeya is neither valid nor logical, therefore there is no question of ajnaana nivritti being of a fifth type. Thus the explanation of advaitins that ajnaana nivritti is of a fifth type also has been refuted – thus says Madhva.

We will see the reply to the arguments raised by Madhva and Jayateertha against the prayojanam of advaita in the next mail through the advaitin’s reply on the same. If possible, we will also try to see the various views which Jayateertha and Madhva have refuted (for which there should be sufficient research required).

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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