The Sūtasamhitā – Part 13
Sūtasamhitā Chāndogya Upaniṣad
Continuing verse 88…
[सतः Of existence एव alone हि indeed सद्भावः existence (is admitted) न not असतः of non-existence ….]
Objection: Why not admit existence of ignorance on the strength of vyavahāra, parlance? That is, all of us experience vyavahāra, worldly activity. The Vedāntin admits that this is ignorance. So, on the strength of this common experience, why not admit the existence of ignorance?
Reply: One can admit existence of what Exists alone and not of that which is distinct from it.
Objection: But then do we not experience existence in all perceptions such as ‘The pot is, the cloth is, the wall is, etc.?’
Reply: Upon closer examination of such perceptions it would be realized that it is the Existence which is the Substratum that alone appears as the existence of the superimposed. The Substratum is Brahman, the Existence, Sat. When a person perceives a cloth, pot, etc. it is the Is-ness that is the Substratum that appears as the Is-ness of the objects.
Objection: Then, since the experience born of perception is to be kept alive, why not accept ignorance, ajñānam, as sadasadvilakṣaṇam, that which is distinct from both existence (sat) and non-existence (asat)?
Reply: No. Even the admitting of the category called ‘sadasadvilakṣaṇam’ is only to show that such a category cannot really exist. And the aim is not to establish that a category called sadasadvilakṣaṇam really exists. Therefore, only when thus shown, one will realize that even that category (object such as the illusory snake) is not really perceived. What alone really shines in every objective perception is Brahman that is Shine, Consciousness, that is completely free of any connection whatsoever with ignorance. Hence, the appearance and perception of ignorance is never a possibility.
भानसंबन्धतो भानमिति वार्ताऽप्यसंगता ॥ ८९॥
भानसंबन्धतः in connection with Consciousness भानम् ‘shining’ इति thus वार्ता proposal अपि too असंगता incongruent
Objection: Let there be no shine of ignorance by itself. However, why not we accept that ignorance can very well be perceived owing to its connection with Brahman, the Consciousness?
संबन्धिरूपसद्भावे सति संबन्धसंभवः ।
सद्भावे सति संबन्धिरूपं ब्रह्मैव केवलम् ॥ ९०॥
संबन्धिरूपसद्भावे existence owing to the connection सति in case संबन्धसंभवः the occurrence of connection सद्भावे सति if exists संबन्धिरूपं the one that has connection ब्रह्म is Brahman एव alone केवलम् without a second
For a connection, sambandha, to be possible, there have to be two entities that connect with each other. These two have to be Brahman and ajñānam, of equal status. However, the latter has no existence of its own and has to depend on the substratum Brahman for its very being. Brahman is the sole existing entity that can be admitted. Since ajñānam is devoid of existence, there is no way one can establish a sambandha involving two entities. The superimposed (snake) cannot be counted as a second entity along with the substratum (rope).
अनिरूपितरूपेण सद्भाव इति चेन्मतम् ।
अनिरूपितरूपस्य रूपं तु ब्रह्म केवलम् ।
ब्रह्मैव रूपं नैवान्यन्न रूपमपरस्य हि ॥ ९१॥
अनिरूपितरूपेण as unproven form सद्भावः existence इति thus चेत् if मतम् admitted अनिरूपितरूपस्य of the unproven रूपं form तु however ब्रह्म Brahman केवलम् alone ब्रह्म Brahman एव alone रूपं form न not एव indeed अन्यत् anything else न not रूपम् form अपरस्य of anything else हि indeed
Objection: Let there be no absolute existence to ajñānam similar to Brahman. Since there is an illusory existence to ignorance, what is wrong in forging a sambandha, connection, with Brahman? The existence that is accorded to ajñānam is owing to its inability to stand scrutiny. That is, when one enquires into the nature of ajñānam, it will no longer remain; it gets dispelled the moment it is put to test.
Reply: Ajñānam enjoys existence only as long as it is not put to test. Such a precarious existence is none other than illusory, a superimposition. Naturally, the substratum, adhiṣṭhānam, that is the bedrock on which the superimposed ajñānam appears, is the true nature, content, svarūpam of the latter. The rope is the truth of the illusory snake. Ajñānam, the cause, and its effect, the world of variety, being superimposed, have no true existence of their own; Brahman alone appears as the cause-effect duality which is what the manifested world is.
अस्ति चेदपरस्यापि रूपं तर्हि सुरोत्तमाः ।
रूपरूपेण रूपं च ब्रह्मरूपं भवेत्खलु ॥ ९२॥
अस्ति exists चेत् if अपरस्य of the other अपि too रूपं form तर्हि then सुरोत्तमाः O Foremost of Gods! रूपरूपेण in the form of that form रूपं form च too ब्रह्मरूपं the Brahman-form भवेत् will be खलु indeed
The word ‘rūpam’ does not literally mean a form, but it means that which is amenable to be demonstrated or established by a process of delineation. If it is argued that such a characteristic is common to both Brahman and ajñānam, even then that characteristic is of Brahman alone. This is because as being the substratum of that characteristic, there is no distinction between the two: Brahman and ajñānam.
The idea involved here is: Brahman alone, if at all, can be delineated by the aid of the Veda and the logic subservient to it. Ajñānam, being a non-entity, is not so amenable to delineation.
ब्रह्मरूपेण नान्यस्य रूपं रूपान्तरेण चेत् ॥ ९३॥
ब्रह्मरूपेण As Brahman न not अन्यस्य of the other रूपं form रूपान्तरेण but by a distinct form चेत् if thus
Objection: What is stated in the foregoing could be true if Brahman’s form is distinct on the basis of mere form and thus ajñānam derives a form that is distinct from Brahman.
तर्हि रूपान्तरं रूपाद्भिन्नं वाऽभिन्नमेव वा ।
भिन्नाभिन्नं न वा भिन्नं यदि रूपाद्विभेदतः ॥ ९४॥
तर्हि then रूपान्तरं the other form रूपात् from form भिन्नं distinct वा or अभिन्नम् non-distinct एव alone वा or भिन्नाभिन्नं distinct-cum-non-distinct न not वा or भिन्नं distinct यदि if रूपात् from form विभेदतः being distinct
The reply comes to refute the above objection. We raise three alternatives: Is that distinct form (of ajñānam) — (1) distinct or (2) non-distinct or (3) distinct-cum-non-distinct — from the true entity (Brahman) which alone is amenable to delineation? The first alternative is dismissed thus: ajñānam has no distinct form since it is different from the entity (Brahman) that alone is amenable to delineation. And such an ajṇñānam that is different from Brahman is no different from a hare’s horn.
तुच्छवत्तदरूपं स्यादभिन्नं चेत्तदेव तत् ।
उक्तदोषद्वयापत्तेर्भिन्नाभिन्नं न तद्भवेत् ॥ ९५॥
तुच्छवत् like a non-existent तत् it अरूपं without form स्यात् maybe अभिन्नं non-different चेत् if तत् that एव alone तत् that उक्तदोषद्वयापत्तेः fraught with the dual defect भिन्नाभिन्नं different-cum-non-different न not तत् that भवेत् could be
The second alternative is now taken up: If ajñānam is non-different from Brahman, then it, having no existence apart from Brahman, has no being at all as a distinct entity. A pot is distinct from a cloth and has a distinct existence. Such is not the case with ajñānam which is only a superimposition. The third alternative (of ajñānam being both different-cum-non-different from Brahman) is thus rejected: the defects stated above in the case of the first two alternatives (distinct from Brahman and non-distinct from Brahman) will apply here. Thus all three alternatives stand rejected.
अत एव सुरश्रेष्ठा अनिरूपितरूपतः ।
सद्भाव इति वार्ता च वार्तैव खलु केवलम् ॥ ९६॥
अतः hence एव alone सुरश्रेष्ठाः O foremost Gods! अनिरूपितरूपतः not being delineated सद्भावः existence इति thus वार्ता statement च too वार्ता word एव mere खलु indeed केवलम् alone
The discussion on the status of ajñānam is concluded here. Owing to the reason that ajñānam does not stand scrutiny when its status is enquired into, the claim that it exists does not hold water; it remains just an empty claim and nothing more. This is the state of anything that is admitted to be other than Brahman.
In the Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.1.4 we have the famous statement ‘vācārambhaṇam vikāro nāmadheyam…’ which means ‘all transformations that bring about distinctions such as cause-effect, distinctions across various effects, etc. are mere words and no more than that’. We have seen above that ajñānam when posited as a distinct entity from Brahman, is no more than a mere word, and the idea of distinctness also is just a word with nothing to substantiate it.
तस्मादज्ञानमेवैतद्ब्रह्मैव सततोदितम् ।
अज्ञानमयमेवेदं सर्वमित्यपि भाषणम् ।
नैव भाषणमज्ञानाभावादेव शिवं विना ॥ ९७॥
तस्मात् therefore अज्ञानम् ignorance एव alone एतत् this ब्रह्म Brahman एव alone सततोदितम् always shines अज्ञानमयम् completely ignorance एव alone इदं this सर्वम् entirely इति thus अपि too भाषणम् saying न not एव ever भाषणम् a statement अज्ञानाभावात् since ignorance is non-existent एव alone शिवं Śiva विना bereft of
Having thus shown that there is no separate existence to ignorance, even the preliminary admission of ignorance, in the vyāvahārika state, too only culminates in establishing that it is Brahman alone that appears as ignorance. Even the statement ‘All this world is only a product of ignorance’ is also devoid of any meaning, being mere words. It is impossible to establish an existence for ignorance as distinct from the Supreme Substratum that is the Absolute Śiva, the Auspicious, Brahman.
Part 14 Coming soon…