Mayavada Darpanam

Monday, October 16, 2006

Final attack on Advaita vishaya - 10


Prostrations to all.

We saw in the last mail Madhva as well as Jaya Teertha attacking the view that brahma atma aikya is mithya and trying to prove the illogical or contrary conclusions arising out of such a proposition. We will see as to how the advaitin answers through his words in mayavada darpanam. We have already seen prior that brahma atma aikya is not yaathaarthyam (real) but as long as avidya is experienced, brahma atma aikya is real only. It is taking into consideration the bhedha or duality created by avidya (avidya kalpitha bhedha) that the shastra propounds the vishaya of brahma atma aikya through the various mahavakyas. Sankara quite clearly mentions this in his sutra bhashya as “avidya kalpitha bhedha nivrittitvaparatvaat shaastrasya – due to shastra leading to removal of duality which is created by avidya”.

Just to recap, the dvaitin had argued that if brahma atma aikya is mithyaa, shastra becomes invalid as well as this would lead to brahma atma bhedha becoming real – as the identity of Rama with Krishna is mithya would lead to the difference between Rama and Krishna becoming real. This would lead to the contrary conclusion of bhedha becoming real or dvaita or this would lead to advaita haani (that which madhva had mentioned in the starting itself).

Let us now enter into the words of the advaitin. Advaitin continues thus:

Yattu jayateerthena uktham ‘aikyasya mithyaatve bhedasya satyathaa cha syaat’ tad na satyam

What Jaya Teertha has mentioned as to the bheda becoming real if aikya is illusory (brahma atma aikya if illusory would lead to brahma atma bhedha becoming real), it is not true.

(Why isn’t this true?)
Rajju sarpa aikyasya mithyaatve sati tayoh bhedasya satyathaa na syaat, rajjudarshanaparaath aikyasya mithyaatva angeekaaraath

Even though Rajju sarpa aikya (identity of rope and snake) is mithya or illusory, the difference between rajju and sarpa is not real (in this case, rajju and sarpa being the same rajju alone) and once rope is known as such, the identity of rope-snake is accepted as illusory only.


This part is a bit logical as was jaya teertha’s argument on the same. The advaitin says that what Jayateertha says as to the bhedha becoming real if aikya is unreal is not right. This logic what Jaya Teertha is mentioning is not valid in the case of the illusion of snake in rope.

The rope-snake logic to prove adhyaasa and the relation between the world and Brahman is quite often used in advaita. A person due to dim light sees a snake in the rope. There is no snake there but only rope but he sees a snake in the rope. This seeing of snake causes the person to fear the rope, runaway from it etc. But once a learned person takes him near to the rope & shows him that there is no snake but only rope, the person realizes that there is and there was only the rope. The snake is thus known as a mere illusion in the substratum of rope.

The rope-snake identity or aikyatva which makes the person realize that there is no snake but only rope is accepted as mithya. The identity of rope-snake is illusory because there is no snake at all in the rope. Only if there is a real snake in the rope, can we speak about the rope-snake identity. But since there is only the rope, therefore the aikya or identity is illusory or mithya. Even though rajju-sarpa aikya is illusory, their difference doesn’t become real. Why? Because there are no two entities of rope and snake. Thus even though the identity of rope-snake is illusory, the difference between rope-snake is not real. But this difference of rope-snake is also an illusion which depends on the identity not known as such or not knowing that there is only rope there.

Here it can be argued that the identity of rope and snake is accepted as real and hence this argument cannot be raised for jaya teertha’s statement. Anticipating this argument the advaitin says that the argument of advaitin is valid because we accept the identity of rope and snake as an illusion once the reality of rope is known.

Extending this rope-snake analogy to brahma-atma, even though brahma atma aikya is mithya, still this doesn’t make brahma atma bhedha as real because there are no two entities at all but there exists only one entity.

We have to remember here that jaya teertha’s argument is valid in case of empirically real analogies but in the case of illusions, the argument is invalid.

Here the dvaitin might argue that brahma-atma aikya is considered as an illusion and hence your argument is invalid (in dvaita brahma atma aikya is mithyaa because Brahman is different from the atman). To this argument, we ask thus: “Are you speaking about your system’s interpretation of brahma-atma or our system? If you speak about your system, then that is invalid here because here the subject-matter is advaita siddhantha and not dvaita siddhantha. If you say that dvaita siddhantha can be raised so long as it is valid, then there cannot be any vada at all as there is no common stand for the vada (a discussion requires common ground or commonly accepted rules). You cannot say here that shaastra is the common ground as shaastra is not discussed in depth here whereas yukthi is what is discussed by madhva. It can be and has been proved through yukthi that bhedha is untenable (in bhedha dhikkara among other works). Thus yukthi support is there for what we are preaching. If on the other hand (instead of speaking about your system’s interpretation), you are speaking of our interpretation then our interpretation accepts brahma atma aikya which is the vishaya of shastra as unreal at the paaramarthika level. This has been shown through sankara’s words itself. Moreover sruthi proclaims duality as illusory (whether it is of brahma-atma or brahma-jagat) through the statements of “neha nana asthi kinchana” (there is no duality whatsoever here), “sarvam khalu idam brahma” etc.”

Thus whatever way the dvaitin argues, it is but true that brahma atma aikya is an illusion only or mithyaa alone. Since brahma atma aikya is mithya, therefore the analogy used (rope-snake) is apt in this case. This analogy as we have already shown proves jaya teertha’s statement as wrong. Thus the objection of madhva as well as jaya teertha has been answered.

It is essential over here to mention a few words about the analysis of brahma atma aikya. Brahma atma aikya as the rajju sarpa aikya is valid and real only until realization dawns. Once a person realizes the adviteeya atman, then there is no “other” entity to even compare. Thus during that state (we are considering it from vyaavaharika level) brahma atma aikya is mithyaa. Brahma atma aikya is mithyaa not because the bhedha of brahma atma is real but because there are no two entities of Brahman and atman. This dual perception of Brahman and atman as different is only due to avidya. This difference perception results in shastra’s propounding of aikya through which it will be realized that there is no dvaita but one alone exists.

For a person who doesn’t realize the reality of rope, he is mentioned that rajju and sarpa are one alone (rajju means rope and sarpa is snake). Through this aikyatva (which itself is mithyaa as there is ultimately only rope), he realizes that there is only rope. Thus this aikyatva doesn’t lead to bhedha satyatvam but leads to adviteeya rajju saakshaatkaara.

Thus has been mentioned in Advaita Pancharatnam (an English commentary has been written by me on the same and available at

Rajju ajnaanaath rajjau bhaathi yathaa ahih
Svaatma ajnaanath aatmani jeevo bhaavah
Aptha ukthyaa ahi bhraanthi naashe sah rajju
Jeevo naaham deshikokthyaa shivoham

As ignorance of rope causes a person to get deluded into seeing a snake, similarly atma ajnaana causes a person to think the atman as jeeva. As by the words of an elderly person there is realization that it is rope alone, similarly I am not the jeeva but the shiva propounded by the acharya.

In brahma atma aikya, atma word’s direct meaning is jeeva whereas the lakshya artha (implied meaning) is kutastha. Since sruthi is concerned with the jeeva (who thinks he is different from Brahman), therefore the atman (in brahma-atma wordings used in this mail) here denotes jeeva only. Thus the above sloka of advaita pancharatnam quite clearly explains this brahma atma analysis. More detailed analysis can be had from the English commentary on the same.

We will enter into the next argument of madhva in the next mail. Had mentioned in the previous mail about quoting from the vartika tika of anandagiri, would do the same over the weekend & hence the mail will be there only in the next week – sorry for the same.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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