V Subrahmanian, Thursday, July 30, 2015 9:17 am

Adhyasa and an example thereof

Shankaracharya has defined what adhy?sa is in the preamble to the Brahmas?tra bh??yam, both in an elaborate manner and also in a succinct way.  The latter is cited here for it is more easily grasped by most people than the first one which involves greater effort.  The second occurrence is:  ??????? ??? ????????????????????????????? [‘We have said that adhy?sa (superimposition/error) is the cognition of something as some other thing.’  In the same document Shankara has also summarized the various views on adhy?sa pointing to a common feature among all those views:  ???????? ?? ??????????????????????? ? ????????? ? ??? ? ?????????? — ???????? ?? ???????????, ??????????? ????????????? ? [‘From every point of view, however, there is no difference as regards the appearance of one thing as something else.  And in accord with this, we find in common experience that the nacre appears as silver, and a single moon appears as two.’]

One comes across a fine example that demonstrates what adhy?sa is in the following page:

Dvaita-Advaita QA     https://sites.google.com/site/madhwaprameyaqa/home/dvaita-advaita

The following is a part of the above page:


// Q: #2 Prayatna is of no use, because it depends on the Lord who is sarva-prEraka.

KT: Prayatna is always of use and it must always be done. Note that if your swarupa-yOgyata compels you to do prayatna, you will be compelled to do so. Isn’t it? The sarva preraka Lord will do preraNa as per one’s swarupa-yOgyata and engages one to do prayatna.

In fact, Prayatna is of no use in case of Advaita -where jIva is God and so where is the need for Prayatna? If Advaita claims that Prayatna is to make the jIva realize that he is God, then it is biting its own tail. If jIva is omniscient God, then he must know that even without any prayatna. If not, he is no omniscient God.

Q: #3 There’s no way of knowing one’s swaruupa, so the jiiva could become confused about its saadhana.

KT: Firstly, what is the correlation between “knowing one’s swaruupa” and “the jiiva could become confused about its saadhana”?

Secondly, there is a way of knowing one’s swarUpa. That is what is aparoxa j~nAna. One must strive for that. There is at least some evidence for that and it is not hard to conceive that. What is impossible and what does not have evidence is “an ordinary soul becoming into God”. Even Sankaracharya has not achieved this even as per Advaitis.

The amount of confusion of a jIva is dependent on the yogyata of jIva.

In case of Advaita, there’s no way of knowing one’s swaruupa. In Advaita, knowing one’s swarUpa is realizing that one is God. This is most ridiculous because this entails that “there are so many Gods floating around, who did not realize that they are God.”

God always knew that He is God and specific to our context, when He incarnated on earth, He knew that He is God. No ordinary jIva, no matter what he does, can ever become God. So, Advaita is an untenable position.

Q: #4 No incentive for action, because swaruupa determines the outcome, so if you’re saatvik, you’re going to be liberated, so why break your head over this?

KT: Because that is your swaruupa. Can you go against your swaruupa? If you think you can, then that is not your swaruupa. If it is your swaruupa, then you can’t go against it.

Otoh, in case of Advaita, there is no incentive for action. If you are God, nothing can change the outcome, so why break your head over this? If you are not God, then you are no Advaitin. What is worse is that in case of Advaita, even the most despicable jIva is non-different from God. //


The ‘rep?ies’ by the blogger  form a fine example of adhy?sa.  From the replies it is evident that what is not Sh??kara Advaita is wrongly seen/understood to be so.

Here are parts of the ‘replies’ (quoted between // – //) and rebuttals to them by citing / stating what Advaita taught by Shankara through the bh??ya-s :

// In fact, Prayatna is of no use in case of Advaita -where jIva is God and so where is the need for Prayatna? If Advaita claims that Prayatna is to make the jIva realize that he is God, then it is biting its own tail. If jIva is omniscient God, then he must know that even without any prayatna. If not, he is no omniscient God. //

The fact is Sh?nkaran Advaita never claims ‘Jiva is God’.  The word ‘God’ is a little misleading here for it may usually mean the Omniscient, etc. Lord or by some stretch, the Nirgu?a Brahman.  But by the emphasis found in the ‘reply’ the word ‘God’ is taken as the Omniscient Lord alone.  Why does Advaita not propose to equate the j?va with the Omniscient God? The reply is: In Advaita, both the entities jiva and God (I?wara) are in truth the Pure Consciousness, nirup?dhika chaitanyam, appearing as sop?dhika ones, that is, they are endowed with up?dhis.  The jiva is endowed with the pancha koshas (annamaya, etc. which Advaita holds as an?tman) as up?dhis and God/Ishwara is endowed with sarvajñatva, sarva?aktitva, etc. up?dhis, going by the translated words ‘Omniscience, Omnipotence, etc.’  In Advaita these are all adjuncts superimposed on the Nirgu?a Brahman which is ever free of any up?dhis.  Thus, there will be no use, and also not possible, to unite or identify or equate the jiva with Ishwara.

Says Shankara in the BSB 2.1.14:

// ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????? ????????????? ?, ? ????????? ??????? ?????????????????????? ?????? ????????????????????????????????? ???????? ; ??? ??????? — ‘???? ????????????? ????????????? ??????????????? ? ????’ (??. ?. ?-??-?) ??? ; ‘???? ?????? ?????????????????????? ?? ???????’ (??. ?. ?-?-??) ??????? ?..//

[I?wara’s Lordship, Omniscience and Omnipotence are caused by limitations born of up?dhis which have ignorance for their root. They do not subsist in the absolute sense when Atman is realized to be free of all up?dhis (limiting adjuncts) through right knowledge, vidy? when the vyavah?ra involving omniscience, omnipotence do not remain.  Hence is stated by the Ch?ndogya upani?ad 7.24.1: When one does not see another, hear another, knows another, that state is Infinite, bh?m?.  And the Br.up. 4.5.15 says: when for one all has become the Self then with what does he see what? Etc.]

Thus, according to Advaita, when the attributes such as Omniscience and Omnipotence are not absolutely real, there is no way the j?va is taught to be non-different from I?wara.  Another misconception of the blogger  that ‘Ishwara has to know his true self through prayatna, effort’ is also not what Advaita teaches.  Advaita holds Ishwara to be ever sarvajna and never bound  requiring Him to put efforts to know Himself.  In fact, in advaita, Ishwara is the one who graces the jiva with the Advaitic knowledge:

BSB 2.3.41:

// ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????? ???????? ??????? ; ????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????? ? ???? ? ?????????? ; ?????? ???????????? ????????????????? ????, ?????? ? ???? ?????????? ?????? ?????????????? ??????????, ????? ?????????? ?????????????????? ??????????? ????????????? ; ??? ?? ???????????? — ‘?? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ?? ??????? ??????? ?????????? ? ?? ?????????? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ???????’ (??. ?. ?-?) ???, ‘? ?????? ???????????????????? ?????’ ??? ? ?????????? ? ?? ?

[It is by His, Ishwara’s grace alone the vijñ?na, realization,  arises which results in liberation.]

The Advaitic realization of ‘I am Brahman’ is possible only when both the jiva and Ishwara are shorn of the up?dhis and the unnegatable Pure Consciousness alone is recognized and realized as one’s true self.  Evidently, the blogger has not understood this fact of Sh?nkaran Advaita and expresses that ignorance/confusion in the ‘reply’ cited above.  No jiva, when in the state of bondage and in the state of liberation, claims he is Ishwara/God who is the Omniscient one.  Hence, there is no situation where one is ‘biting his tail’ as envisaged by the blogger. Also there is no situation in Adviata where  ‘”there are so many Gods floating around, who did not realize that they are God.”’ for the reason stated above.  In Advaita there is only one Ishwara for all the jiva-s who are subject to Him. The jiva-jiva, jiva-I?wara bheda is admitted in Advaita too in vy?vah?rika.   ”an ordinary soul becoming into God”. is also not an Advaitic position for the same reason given above.  The blogger’s observation ‘Even Sankaracharya has not achieved this even as per Advaitis.’ needs a little clarification from the Advaitin:

Traditional advaitins hold Shankaracharya as Lord Shiva alone.  So, there is no question of Shankaracharya ‘achieving’ Ishwarahood.  The concluding verses of the M?dhav?ya Shankara vijaya say:

At the end of Shiva’s role as the Acharya, His ascension to His abode is described thus:

?????????????????????? ?????????????? ????????? ???????-

????????????????????? ??????????? ??????????????? ?

??????????????????? ?????????????????????????

????????????????? ????????????????? ???? ???????? ? (sarga 16, verse 107)

[Praised by Indira, Vi??u and other gods and worshipped with divine flowers, and led by Brahm? who was born in a lotus, taking His hand, that Yat??wara wearing the crescent moon and the weight of the matted hair, taking His own divine form, ascending on the v??abha, hearing the round of applause of the group of Munis arrived at His abode.]

Thus, there is no question of Shankaracharya attaining any new status.  On another count, Shankaracharya, being brahmajn?ni, is also Brahman itself.

Since the blogger is not aware of the correct position of Advaita regarding the Jiva, Ishwara, realization, etc. he has given expression to his confusion in those ‘replies’ which are meant to ‘clarify’ doubts raised by a sincere seeker!! As another example of this confusion and the resultant misrepresentation of Advaita by the blogger, here is another instance:

// Q: He says in this dream world, he is different from the Vishnu he’s worshipping. Which makes all people caught in bondage dvaitins. Out of bondage, there’s only oneness.

KT: In other word, the Advaitin claims that the jIva has at least some existence in samsAra and in Mukti, the jIva ceases to exist. In other words, the purpose of sAdhana is to achieve extinction! Mukti seems really scary!//

Alas! The confusion of the blogger has led him to conclude the extinction of the Advaitic jiva as the consequence of realization!!  The Upani?ad declares: ?????? ??? ???????? ???? (’The knower of Brahman is Brahman alone’ – Mun?aka. 3.2.9)  So, even going by the Upani?ad, there is no extinction of the knower of Brahman.  See what Shankaracharya says in the Brahmasutra bhashya as the mode, prak?ra, of such realization:

?????( –

?????????????????????????????????? ?? ????????? ?????? ?????????????????????????? ????????????? ? ? ??: ?????? ????? ?????? ?? ??????, ? ??????, ???? ???????????? ??? ???????????????? ?

[ Quite contrary to what had been previously regarded as agent and enjoyer, I am verily that Brahman, which, by nature, is neither agent nor enjoyer at all in all the three periods of time.  Even earlier I was never an agent or enjoyer, nor am I so at present; nor shall I be so in future – such is the realization of the knower of Brahman.]

So, where is the question of the Advaitic j?va becoming extinct upon realization of his Brahman-nature?  The Lord says in the BG 2.16: na abh?vo vidyate sata?.  The Existent Brahman never becomes non-existent.  So, the jiva who has realized his true nature as Brahman never goes into extinction.  What, however, goes into extinction, is his wrongly held j?vatva, sam?aritva bh?va.

In the BSB  3.2.4 ??????? ?? ?????????????? ? ??????? ? ? ? [This is a sutra in the svapn?dhikara?a which says: the dream is an indicator as the shruti says so and the knowers say so.]   Shankara says:

????? ‘? ?? ???????? ???????’ (?. ?. ?-?-?) ??? ???????????????????? ????? ??????? ???????? ???????????? ; ???? ?? ?????????? ‘???? ?????? ?????????’ ??? ??????????????????????????????????? — ‘?????????’ (??. ?. ?-?-?) ?????????? — ??? ? ????????????? ??????????

//Here too the shruti ‘he who is awake in deep sleep (ka?hopani?ad 2.2.8)  by the alluding to the popular experience of the deep sleep state, declares that the jiva alone is the creator of the objects of desire in the dream and by the rest of that shruti passage ‘he is pure, he is brahman’ it (the shruti) teaches the Brahman-nature of the jiva after negating his jiva nature, just as the Chandogya 6.9.4 teaches ‘Tat tvam asi’.  Therefore the sutra (which is dealing with dream) does not restrict itself to the nature of the jiva, but it is non-contradicting with the context of Brahman too. //

Thus, in Advaita, there is no room for the extinction of the svarupa, which is Brahman, the Pure consciousness, of the jiva; there is an end, however, to the erroneously held jivabh?va alone.  It is akin to Karna’s wrongly held notion of ‘R?dheya’ (son of R?dha) coming to an end when he realized that he is indeed Kaunteya, Kunti’s son upon being informed/instructed/revealed by the Lord.  Karna himself does not come to an end, only his wrong identity vanishes.

This is only a sample to show that the blogger’s fundamental misconception of advaitic concepts reflects in all his ‘replies’.  The same is the case with all the Acharyas of the non-advaitic schools who raised objections  against Advaita, only based on their wrong understanding of Advaita.  If Advaita is correctly understood, none will have anything to object.  One may not accept Advaita as the path suited for oneself, but going about misrepresenting Advaita and misleading the questioners and unwary readers of their blogs is what is unfortunate.

It is enough to show just one or two instances to prove that the entire QA document is flawed.

The document has a fine example in it for the idea of adhy?sa: mistaking Sh??karan Advaita to mean so many things that it is really not.

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