Monday, January 24, 2011 7:33 am

Presentation of the Teaching of mithyAtva in the bhagavadgItA (2 of 3)

Presentation of the teaching of mithyAtva in the bhagavadgItA (mithyAtva = unreality) – Part 2

In the sequel is a translation of the Sanskrit essay on the above topic. The Sanskrit and the English portions appear sequentially and help a reader conversant with Sanskrit to read those portions and also appreciate the translation. Those not conversant with Sanskrit could skip those portions and read just the English version. The translation is also an elaborate explanation of the Sanskrit essay.

४. ‘असत्श’ब्दस्य व्याख्यानतया वर्तते भूतप्रकृतिशब्दः । असदिति सकारणद्वैतस्य परामर्शः ।  भूतानां प्रकृतिः अविद्यालक्षणा अव्यक्ताख्या इति व्याख्यानं कार्यकारणात्मकसमस्तद्वैतस्य द्योतकम् । (‘अविद्यमानस्य शीतोष्णादेः सकारणस्य न विद्यते नास्ति भावो भवनम् अस्तिता’ । इति २.१६ भाष्ये ।) कार्यमात्रस्य अभावस्तु सुषुप्त्यादावपि सिद्धत्वात्, कारणस्य प्रकृतेः अभावः तत्त्वज्ञानादेव संभवति इति स्पष्टीकर्तुं भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षणं शब्दत उक्तं श्लोके, तथाविधं व्याख्यातं च भाष्ये । कारणोक्तेः कार्यस्याप्युक्तप्राय एव ।

The word ‘bhUtaprakRti’ of 13.34 looks like a commentary of the word ‘asat’ of 2.16. The word ‘asat’ is indicative of the dvaita along with its cause (parakRti). The elucidation of the Bhashyam for the word ‘bhUtaprakRti-mokSham’ in 13.34 as ‘the cause of the beings, characterized by avidyA, ignorance, termed ‘un-manifest’, ‘avyakta’  is indicative of the entire cause-effect universal duality.


‘नासतो..’ इत्यस्य भाष्यगतप्रपञ्चमिथ्यात्वप्रतिपादकहेतुचतुष्टयप्रदर्शनम् –


Presenting the four-fold reason that establishes the unreality, mithyAtvam, of the world, as stated in the bhAShyaM for the verse 2.16 –

१. ‘ हि शीतोष्णादि सकारणं प्रमाणैर्निरूप्यमाणं वस्तु सद्भवति इत्यस्मिन् वाक्ये वस्तुनोऽसत्त्वे तन्निरूपणे प्रमाणापेक्षता हेतूक्रियते । अत्रेयं व्याप्तिः – यद्यद्वस्तु स्वात्मगोचरे, स्वात्मलाभाय,   स्वभिन्नप्रमातृगतप्रमाणमपेक्षते तत्तन्मिथ्या । अन्याधीनत्वात्, स्वाप्नप्रमाणगृहीतस्वाप्नवस्तुवत् । प्रमाणानां तथा तद्विषयाणां प्रकृत्यपरपर्यायक्षेत्रान्तर्गतत्वं भगवतैवोक्तत्वात् – इन्द्रियाणि दशैकं च पञ्च चेन्द्रियगोचराः इति क्षेत्रविवरणावसरे (१३.५) । ‘भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च’ (१३.३४) इति क्षेत्रज्ञयाथात्म्यज्ञानबाध्यमानक्षेत्रकुक्षिपतितेन्द्रियैः ग्राह्यमाणविषयाः कथं वस्तुभूततां अर्हन्ति? अन्याधीनत्वेऽपरोऽयं दृष्टान्तः – रज्ज्वामारोपितसर्पवत् इति । यथा आरोपितसर्पस्य अधिष्ठानरज्जुं विना न स्वतन्त्रसत्त्वं तथा । अथ वा यद्यद्वस्तु परप्रकाश्यं सत् स्वप्रकाशहीनं तत्तत् मिथ्या भवितुमर्हति, व्यतिरेकेण ब्रह्मवत्।हेतुरयं माण्डूक्यकारिकाभाष्योक्त (२.५) ‘दृश्यत्वात्’ इति प्रसिद्ध इत्यपि बोध्यम् । हेतोरस्य बलवत्त्वं भाष्ये द्विवारं ‘प्रमाणैर्निरूप्यमाणं, चक्षुषा निरूप्यमाणं’ इति प्रयोगदर्शनादवगम्यते ।

// indeed …heat, cold, etc. together with their causes are not substantially real as they are perceived/grasped by means of instruments.//


This is the first reason. In this sentence, the unreality of the objects is determined by the reason that the objects are perceived (by instruments, sense organs). The general rule is: that object which depends upon an external instrument operated by an external knowing agent, for its being known/validation, is deemed to be unreal. Because it is dependent on something/someone else. Just like the dream objects that are known/validated by the dream instruments. The instruments and the objects that are perceived by them are categorized as ‘kShetram’ or prakRti by the Lord Himself (13.5) while detailing in brief the ‘kShetram’. How can the objects belonging to the kShetram that are validated by the organs that are also kShetram be real? In respect of the perceived objects being dependent on something else, there is another example: the superimposed, paratantra, serpent has no independent, svatantra, existence apart from that of the rope. Whatever is paratantra, dependent, for its existence, on any swatantra, independent entity, has to be necessarily mithyAprakRti, being paratantra, is dependent for its very being, reality, on brahman, the swatantra. The Lord has specified prakRiti/mAyA as ‘His’ power which He resorts to for the creation and managing of the created universe and the jIva-s (bhagavd gItA verses 7.4,5 , 8. 18,19, 9.7,8 etc.) Hence prakRti is mithyA

Also, whichever object being devoid of its very sentience is dependent on an external entity for its being illumined, is mithyA. The contrary example, vyatireka dRShTAnta, is brahman. brahman has its intrinsic shine or rather brahman IS shine, and is not in need of any other entity for being illumined. But any other entity, object, prakRti, has to depend on brahman /sentient entity for being illumined and hence mithyA. This reason specified by shaMkara is akin to the one He has stated in the mANDUkya kArikA bhAShya 2.5. This is ‘dRShyatvAt’ mithyAunreal because of its being a perceivable entity. Any entity that is perceivable is mithyA, just as in a dream. This reason assumes importance in view of the Acharya stating it twice in this very exposition that we are considering now.


२. ‘विकारो हि सः, विकारश्च व्यभिचरति ।’ सत्यं वस्तु अव्यभिचारितया सत्यत्वलक्षणभाग्भवति । तदन्यद्वस्तु तु जन्मविपरिणामनाशादिविकारं प्राप्य सदैव व्यभिचरद् मिथ्यात्वलक्षणतामेति । ननु विकारवद्वस्तु अनित्यं भवति इत्येव सर्वैरभ्युपगतं, तत्कथं मिथ्यात्वनिर्णयः क्रियते? इति चेदुच्यते – पूर्वं बीजत्वेन निश्चितं यत् तत् इदानीं अङ्कुरत्वेन गृह्यते, पश्चात्सस्यत्वेन, अनन्तरं वृक्षत्वेन इति प्रत्येककक्षायामपि पूर्वदृष्टवस्तु अगोचरतामेत्य सर्वत्र नाममात्रतावसानमेति । तथा बीजादिसर्वावस्थासु किमपि वस्तु न सिद्ध्यति, केवलं नामरूपद्वयमेव वस्तुभ्रान्त्या व्यवह्रियते । हेतुरयं उत्तरद्वयहेत्वोः नातिव्याप्यते । समनन्तरहेतौ कारणव्यतिरेकेण कार्यस्यानुपलब्धित्वं तथा तदनन्तरहेतौ जन्मप्रधवंसाभ्यां प्रागूर्ध्वं चानुपलब्धित्वमिति नातिव्याप्तिप्रसङ्गः ।

This is the second reason. // For they are changeful and whatever is changeful is inconstant. // The ‘Real’ entity, being free from any changes, qualifies to be called ‘satyaM’, Real. That which is other than this, however, being invariably subject to changes like birth/origin, decay and death/destruction, deserves to be called ‘unreal’, mithyA

Objection: The changeful/changing entity, being ephemeral, is regarded by all as only anitya, short-lived. Hence, how is it that you label it as ‘mithyA’, unreal?

Reply: What was earlier admitted as a seed, for example, is now comprehended as a sprout, later a plant and a tree and so on. In each of these stages of transformations, the earlier admitted object is no longer available for our experience; it vanishes. It has to be recalled only as a ‘name’ with a ‘form’; the substance being unavailable. Take the case of ‘this morning’. I woke up this morning, recognized it as morning, did all things pertaining to the morning. Now I am in the noon time. At this time, where is the ‘morning’? I did experience it no doubt, yet where is it now? Let me apply the rule bhagavAn specifies in 2.16: ‘The Real has no nonexistence’. When I apply this rule to test ‘morning’, if it was real, it should have been available to me now, existing. It should not have become non-existent. So, how can I consider the ‘morning’ real? But why can’t I take the ‘morning’ as anitya, ephemeral? Krishna says in the same verse: ‘The unreal has no being/existence’. To explain, if something has no being, existence, it is unreal. This leaves us with the only choice of concluding that the ‘morning’, even when it was experienced, did not have ‘being’, ‘existence’; it was just an appearance. And that is called ‘mithyA’. Therefore even during the various states of a seed-sprout-tree, etc. and morning-noon-evening-night, etc. there was nothing substantial existing; only some names and forms were handled in the delusion that they are substantial entities.

This second reason, stated by Bhagavatpada, does not overpervade, ativyApti, to the subsequent two reasons mentioned below. For, in the next reason, the non-availability of the effect in the absence of its cause is cited and in the final reason the non-availability of the effect prior to its creation and after its destruction is taken up.


३. ‘यथा घटादिसंस्थानं चक्षुषा निरूप्यमाणं मृद्व्यतिरेकेण अनुपलब्धेरसत्, तथा सर्वो विकारः कारणव्यतिरेकेण अनुपलब्धेः असन् इति भाष्यवाक्यम् । अत्र विकारत्वं (विकार्यत्वं) मिथ्यात्वे हेतूक्रियते । दृष्टान्तः वाक्य एव दत्तः । (छान्दोग्ये) वाचारम्भणश्रुतौ एवमेव व्याख्यातम् । तैत्तिरीयभाष्येऽपि ‘विकारोऽनृतम्’ इत्युक्तम् । कारणमेव पश्यन् ‘इदं कार्यं सत्यम्’ इति मत्वा सर्वो जनः मुह्यति । मृदेव पश्यन् घटबुद्ध्यालम्ब्य मुह्यति । मृद्वयतिरेकेण घट इति वस्तु नास्तीति बोधानन्तरमेव घटसत्यत्वबुद्धिं त्यजति । नामरूपमात्रात्मकं विकारजातं मिथ्या तथा तदुपादानभूतकारणवस्तुमात्रं सत्यम् । कारणमेव कार्याकारेण नूतननाम्ना च व्यवह्रियते ।

The third reason given by shaMkara is – // all changeful things, such as pots, are unreal because they are not perceived to be different from their (material) causes//

Here, transformation, vikAratvam, is held out as a reason for their unreality. The example is given in the sentence itself. While commenting on the vAchArambhaNa shruti in the chhAndogya upaniShad chapter – VI too, this same observation is made. Even in the taittirIya upaniShad bhaShyaM, the Acharya has said: ‘anything that is subject to transformation is unreal’. All people erroneously hold the cause itself as ‘a real effect’. Even while perceiving the clay, people are deluded into thinking/concluding that it is a pot. Only when the realization dawns that ‘there is no pot as apart from clay’ does one give up the reality wrongly attributed to the pot. Names and forms that are what is ‘produced’ are unreal, mithyA, and the material cause alone is real. The chhAndogya shruti there says: mRttikA iti yeva satyam. This means: The effect, pot, etc. is real only as clay. This is the meaning of the word ‘iti’ in the passage. The cause alone is transacted in the form of an effect and with a new name.


४.जन्मप्रधवंसाभ्यां प्रागूर्ध्वं चानुपलब्धेः कार्यस्य घटादेः मृदादिकारणस्य तत्कारणव्यतिरेकेण अनुपलब्धेः असत्त्वम् अत्रापि माण्डूक्यकारिकोक्त ‘आदावन्ते च यन्नस्ति वर्तमानेऽपि तत्तथा । विथतैः सदृशा एव अवितथा इव लक्षिताः ‘ (२.६) इति न्याय एव भाष्ये प्रदर्शितः । भगवतापि द्वितीयाध्याये (२.२८) एव ‘अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत । अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना’ इति अयमेवार्थः बोधितः ।  अत्र भाष्ये ‘अदर्शनादापतितः पुनश्चादर्शनं गतः । नासौ तव न तस्य त्वं वृथा का परिदेवना ॥’ इति महाभारतश्लोक (स्त्रीपर्व.२.१३) उदाहृतः । यत्पूर्वं पश्चादप्यदृष्टं, मध्य एव दृष्टं, तन्मध्येऽपि नास्तीत्येव मन्तवयः; मध्ये तदुपलब्धिराभासमात्रमित्यर्थः ।

The fourth reason stated by shaMkara is – // and also because they are not perceived before (their) origination and after destruction.//

Here too, the famous maxim given out in the mANDUkya kArika 2.6 namely: //If a thing is non-existent both in the beginning and in the end, it is necessarily non-existent in the present. The objects that we see are really like illusions; still they are regarded as real. // is alone presented by shaMkara. The Lord too has expressed this very idea in the verse bhagavad gItA 2.28: // O descendant of Bharata, all beings remain unmanifest in the beginning; they become manifest in the middle. After death they certainly become unmanifest. What lamentation can there be with regard to them? //

Here, while commenting, shaMkara has cited a mahAbharatA (stree parva 2.13) verse: //They emerged from invisibility, and have gone back to invisibility. They are not yours, nor are you theirs. What is this fruitless lamentation! //The idea is this: Any object/person is perceived to be so only during the manifested state. Only in this state it is possible to have any emotions like joy or grief. In the unmanifest state no object or person can be loved, hated, lamented upon, etc. When the Lord and Bhagavan Veda VyAsa are stating that persons/objects do not qualify for lamentation, etc., what they mean is that apart from the manifest state, there is no entity called a person/object.  In the unmanifest state, all persons/objects become one with the avyakta, prakRti. The full import of this verse can be appreciated by looking into the bhagavadgItA verse 2.11:


अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे । गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः ॥

[You grieve for those who are not to be grieved for; and you speak words of wisdom! The learned do not grieve for the departed and those who have not departed.] 

Here shaMkara remarks: //Because, panditaH, the learned, the knowers of the Self – panda means wisdom about the Self; those indeed who have this are panditAh, one the authority of the upaniShadic text, ‘…the knowers of brahman, having known all about scholarship,…’ (Br.Up. 3.5.1)… The idea is, ‘You are sorrowing for those who are eternal in the real sense, and who are not to be grieved for. Hence you are a fool!.’.// Now, juxtaposing this verse and the Acharya’s commentary with the verse 2.16 and its commentary where the definition of satya and mithyA are stated, one gets the complete picture:  What is visible, perceivable to the senses is not real; it is not just anitya, it is mithyA. Knowers of brahman are endowed with the certitude pertaining to 1. The Real, sat, and 2. The unreal, asat.


Part 1
, Part 3

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