Mayavada Darpanam

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Attack on prayojana of Advaita - 4


Prostrations to all.

As mentioned in the previous mail, we will try to see jaya teertha’s arguments in the light of the answering of the advaitin of the arguments against vishaya and ajnaana nivritti.

Jaya teertha mentioned that some people claim that “known atman alone is removal of ignorance and not atman”. He further argued that this is false because atman is not accepted as being attained through jnaana. So ‘known’ is not applicable to atman & hence ajnaana nivritti will never be possible.

This argument of jaya teertha is not valid in this case. As we have been explaining throughout, known atman is valid only as long as ajnaana is there. As per the vivarana school, the vritti ajnaana is removed by vritti jnaana which is “known atman” or atman subject to the vritti of knowledge. Hence the vritti jnaana can be attained through karma as here atman is not attained whereas vritti jnaana alone is attained. Thus the argument of jaya teertha is not valid.

Anticipating this particular answering, jaya teertha mentioned that “being subject to vritti is accepted” if thus the advaitin says, then it is as good as telling that the atman subject to vritti causes moksha. This means if vritti is removed, moksha is also removed. Thus moksha become non-eternal and temporary.

This argument of jaya teertha seems to be due to either incomplete knowledge of advaita or knowingly attacking advaita because the famous viewpoint of Gaudapada and Yoga Vasistha that there is neither bondage nor liberation for the ever-present atman clearly answers this objection. In Sanskrit and logical work terms, the answer to jaya teertha’s objection would be “ishtatvaat” or “as it is desired”.

What is desired???
It is desired to have moksha as temporary or non-eternal because bandha or bondage which is negated by moksha is also temporary. Advaita speaks about moksha from temporary bondage alone. Hence once moksha is achieved which is nothing but getting out of bondage or removal of bondage, moksha also becomes invalid. This is similar to the dream-lion (which is equivalent of moksha) causing the dreamer to wake up (from the bondage of dream) and then vanishes itself.

When jnaana vritti removes bandha, it is moksha which removes illusory ignorance. When ignorance is removed, the vritti which causes moksha also vanishes. This moksha is not the real moksha but only illusory moksha which removes illusory bondage. Moksha is atman alone which is ever present. Even the dvaitin accepts moksha as experience of bliss of oneself in order to not bring non-eternality to moksha.

Sankara gives the example of kaathaka powder cleansing the water & itself merging to show that when jnaana removes ajnaana, jnaana also vanishes & adviteeya atman alone exists. This is real moksha – that which is ever present.

Moksha as the ever-present Atman or realization of the ever-present Atman is eternal because it is ever present. Whereas moksha as removal of bandha or bondage is temporary as it is valid only as long as bandha is there. The dual notions of bandha and moksha are only valid at the empirical level so long as ajnaana seems to be experienced. This is what Sankara mentions in the nirvana shatkam as “na mukthir na bandhah – chidaananda roopah sivoham sivoham”.

The last argument that madhva and jaya teertha had raised was regarding the panchama prakaara ajnaana nivritti. We have to understand that this is just one particular way of explaining ajnaana nivritti without getting into any kind of logical issues. That was why Vimuktatman explained ajnaana nivritti in this particular way in Istasiddhi. The moment we accept moksha as atman alone, this question of whether to accept the fifth type of ajnaana nivritti or not doesn’t even come into picture. But for making the seeker understand it logically, we can say that ajnaana is anirvachaneeya and thereby the removal of ajnaana has to be different from anirvachaneeya – hence it has to be of the fifth type (different from the basic four types of sat, asat, sat asat, neither sat nor sat which is anirvachaneeya). This way of explanation can be meant to prove ajnaana nivritti at the empirical level. At the paaramarthika level, ajnaana nivritti is atman alone as at this level there is only the adviteeya atman – nothing else exists apart from the atman.

Hence the fifth type of reality status for ajnaana nivritti is only for easier understanding of the seeker. Madhva’s argument that since ajnaana itself is not proved, ajnaana nivritti of the fifth type is also not proved, is not right because ajnaana has been proved through sruthi, yukthi and anubhava by the advaitin. Hence the fifth type of ajnaana nivritti also is valid only.

With this we come to an end to the discussion of ajnaana nivritti as well as prayojana of Advaita. We will continue with Madhva’s work and the counter work in the next mail in the series.

Prostrations to all.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Monday, November 13, 2006

Attack on prayojana of Advaita - 3


Prostrations to all.

We saw Madhvacharya’s arguments in the previous couple of mails directed against the prayojana of advaita. We will see in the current mail, the reply of the advaitin towards the arguments of the various dvaitins.

We will first see the advaitin’s statements about the prayojanam of advaita and then try to see it in the light of the arguments of the dvaitin.

The advaitin continues thus:

Ajnaana sambhave pramaana tarkam purvameva prathipaaditham

That ajnaana is possible has been proved through sruthi pramaana and logic previously itself.

Tathaapi ajnaana nivrittiroopa mokshasya sambhave prayojanam na nirastham

And thus, moksha of the nature of ajnaana nivritti (removal of ajnaana) is possible and hence prayojanam or fruit is not negated.

Advaite prayojanam idamasthi – ajnaanam naama kinchit na asthi, yadasthi tad brahma ithi aparoksha jnaanam

The prayojanam or fruit in advaita is this alone – there is nothing called ajnaana, the direct knowledge (experience) that whatever is there is Brahman alone.

Tadeva vedante mokshaakhyam

That alone (aparoksha jnaanam or anubhavam) is known in Vedanta as MOKSHA or liberation.


Madhva had earlier mentioned that “ajnaana is impossible and hence all tenets of advaita have to be renounced”. Here the advaitin refutes that by saying ajnaana is very much possible and logical which has been shown previously by the advaitin through the words of Sankara and Sureshwara.

Moksha or liberation as per Advaita is not attaining the Self because the Self is ever present. Instead Advaita says that liberation or moksha is removal of ajnaana or ignorance. Sankara makes it clear that the Self is not something newly attained because that which is attained will also be lost. Thus if the Self is something newly attained, it will become non-eternal which would lead to anitya moksha. Therefore moksha is ajnaana nivritti or removal of ignorance which seems to veil the Self. Since ajnaana doesn’t really veil the Self but only seems to veil, therefore there is no fault of either veiling the Self or presenting (attaining) the ever-present Self. Ajnaana nivritti is there only when ajnaana is there. As long as ajnaana seems to be present, it has to be removed in order to realize the ever-present Self. The Self is but the witness of the seeming veiling of itself and removal of this veiling through knowledge. As ajnaana is there in the case of an ajnaani, therefore moksha in the form of removal of ajnaana is also there. As moksha is there, therefore prayojanam also is valid and not refuted as madhva claims.

The advaitin makes clear as to what is the prayojanam of advaita. The fruit is the aparoksha or intuitive knowledge that there is no ajnaana but Brahman alone, one without a second. The knowledge that a seeker gets from the Guru is paroksha jnaana or indirect knowledge. When the seeker does repeated sravana-manana-nidhidhyaasana, this paroksha jnaana becomes aparoksha and his very experience. This experience is not objective but it is the subjective experience of oneself as the non-dual reality of Brahman associated with knowledge of the illusory nature of the world. This experience or prayojanam is as well valid only from the empirical viewpoint or from the view of the ajnaani. The jnaani realizes and knows that there never was any ajnaana but the Self alone exists. This final result is the prayojanam of advaita which the advaitin is explaining clearly. Since the advaitin explains that ajnaana is not at all there, therefore ajnaana nivritti is also negated once realization happens. Thus ajnaana nivritti is also valid at the empirical level alone like ajnaana. This empirical removal is valid only as long as the seeker has ajnaana. One who doesn’t have ajnaana cannot have ajnaana nivritti as well. Ajnaana itself is inexplicable and only experienced by an ajnaani. Therefore ajnaana nivritti also is valid only for the ajnaani.

Even though ajnaana is inexplicable, ajnaana nivritti is nothing but the atman alone. Ajnaana nivritti is atman alone because when ajnaana is removed, what remains behind is the witness or negator of Atman or Self alone. The advaitin is explaining about this in the next few sentences.

Ajnaanadhvamso na asthi, paramaarthatho ajnaana abhaavaat

There is no destruction of ajnaana as ajnaana is not at all there at the ultimate level.

Ajnaana nivrittireva asthi

There is only negation or removal of ajnaana (sublation – that which really exists can only be destroyed – that which just seems to be present cannot be destroyed but only sublated or negated).

Ajnaana nivrittisthu aatmaa eva

Removal of ajnaana is atman alone.


Ajnaana as is not real doesn’t have any destruction as destruction is possible only for that which really exists. Thus the advaitin here says that there is no destruction of ajnaana but only negation or sublation of ajnaana by jnaana. Nivritti is removal or negation which is only of an illusory entity. Ajnaana as is not present ultimately is an illusory entity. Therefore ajnaana has only removal or sublation or negation. This is very similar to removal of water seen in desert. There is no real water in desert and hence there cannot any destruction of water. There is thus only sublation of water when the reality of desert is known. Therefore ajnaana is removed or ajnaana vanishes when the reality of Atman or Self is known.

The advaitin gives the traditional view that ajnaana nivritti is atman alone. Ajnaana vanishes only through jnaana of the Self. Vivarana school explains this as vritti ajnaana being removed by vritti jnaana & the Self is the mere witness to both these. Atman as the object of the mind or vritti is the removal of ajnaana. Atman becomes a vritti not ultimately but only at the empirical level. This acceptance of atman as a vishaya or object of the mind is only as long as ajnaana is there.

A person forgets himself. When somebody else tells him as to who he is, the person himself becomes the object of the mind even though he is the subject of the mind. In similar way, when ajnaana is there atman becomes the remover of ajnaana through paroksha jnaana and aparoksha jnaana. Paroksha jnaana is knowledge of the atman from the words of the Guru and aparoksha jnaana is knowledge of the atman as one’s own nature – paroksha is indirect knowledge whereas aparoksha is direct knowledge or intuitive experience.

The advaitin goes on to explain as to what is nivritti a bit clearer than the brief explanation that ajnaana nivritti is atman alone.

Nivrittih tu idam jnaanam “ajnaano na asthi, adviteeya brahma eva asthi” ithi
Removal is the knowledge that “ajnaana is not there, non-dual Brahman alone exists”.

“aham aatma asmi” ithi saakshaatkaara eva prayojanam

Prayojanam of advaita is the realization that “I am Atman”.


Nivritti or removal of ajnaana is the knowledge that ajnaana is not at all there & non-dual Brahman alone exists. This is the ultimate reality that there is no duality whatsoever here – whatever exists is Brahman alone. When ajnaana is removed, there will be no ignorance as well experienced but Brahman alone will be present. In order to experience the non-dual Brahman alone as present, we have to contemplate on the truth that there is only Brahman. This is what is termed as vritti jnaana or sravana-manana-nidhidhyaasana of Vedanta. This is what the advaitin is mentioning here that removal of ajnaana is through the knowledge or contemplation that there is no ajnaana but Brahman alone exists.

The prayojana or fruit of advaita is nothing but experience of oneself as the non-dual Self or Brahman. As long as ajnaana is present, one’s own nature of unlimited and infinite Brahman will not be experienced. Since one’s own nature of Brahman is not experienced, therefore prayojanam is still there as the intuitive experience of oneself as Brahman. It is thus wrong on the dvaitin’s part to say that there is no prayojanam of advaita. Prayojanam vanishes only after ajnaana is removed or experienced as non-existent.

This is what the advaitin is emphasizing in the next couple of sentences.

Yaavad avidhyaa asthi taavad prayojanam api asthi

As long as avidya exists, so long prayojanam also exists.

Kinthu yadaa aparoksha anubhavam bhavathi tadaa prayojanam api nirastham, dvaita abhaavaat, dvaitamithyaatvaat cha

But once aparoksha anubhava dawns, then prayojanam also is refuted or negated because dvaita is not there (in that state) and dvaita is known as an illusion.


As long as ajnaana is there, ajnaana nivritti roopa moksha or atma saakshaatkara is present and not negated as the dvaitin claims. This is also emphasized in the scriptures through the statement of “vedaah avedaah” while explaining the state of sushupthi or deep sleep where even the Vedas are negated.

It has already been pointed out by the advaitin through Sankara’s adhyaasa bhashya statement that Vedas are there only till ajnaana is experienced. Once ajnaana vanishes, there is no Veda. When there is no Veda, there is no prayojanam as well. It is thus wrong to say that prayojanam is not there at the empirical level for an ajnaani. Prayojanam is there till ajnaana is there and vanishes only when jnaana dawns/self is experienced.

The advaitin gives an anumaana to show that after realization of the Self, there is no prayojanam as in that state there is no dvaita or duality. Only when duality is there, there can be the difference between the seeker and the fruit. Since after realization, the duality that was experienced earlier is known to be an illusion there is no difference between seeker and the fruit or prayojanam. Thus prayojanam is negated after realization but is valid at the empirical level as long as ajnaana is experienced.

We will try to analyze the arguments of Jaya Teertha (which we saw in the previous mail) taking into view advaita viewpoint on prayojanam discussed in this particular mail.

Prostrations to all.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God