About the Book
This book is devoted to a critical analysis of the nature of the proof, perception in relation to the other two proofs, namely, Inference and Verbal Testimony, according to Advaita. The basic doctrine of Advaita, namely the Self is unseen and the scene is non-real is elucidated herein.
About the Author
Dr V.M. Ananthanarayanan, a specialist in Sahitya and Advaita Vedanta, is Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, National College, Tiruchirapalli. He has participated in a number of National and International Seminars and has published many papers in the philosophical journal, The Voice of Sankara, He has edited many texts in Sanskrit. His publications include: Anangavijayabhana of Jagannatha, Mallikamaruta of Uddanda and Ksatracudamani of Vadibhasimha.
Dr V.M. Ananthanarayanan, Associate Professor in the Department of Sanskrit at National College, Tiruchirapalli, worked as apart-time Research Scholar from 1991 to 1999 in the Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras, and wrote his doctoral thesis On Perception. The thesis earned for him the Ph.D. Degree of the University of Madras in 1999. It is now published by the Adi Sankara Advaita Research Centre, Chennai.
The present work discusses the epistemological status of the proof, perception (pratyaksa) and its relation to the other two proofs, Inference (anumana) and the Verbal testimony (sabda). The discussion is most required and necessary in order to confirm the validity of the Advaita position that the world known through perception is non- real, and so the Self which is the ultimate reality is non-dual or free from any duality.
The Bthadaranyaka text, salila eko drasa advaitah (4.3.32) states that the Self is as clear as pellucid water (salilah) It is free from difference from objects of the same kind (ekah) and also from objects of dissimilar kind (advaitah); and it is self-luminous consciousness (drasta). The word “Advaita” belongs to a class of compounds in which component members designate something else. Accordingly it means “that wherein there is absence of duality” (na vidyate dvaitam yatra). The word “dvaita” signifies the state of being manifold and when applied to the world it suggests both numerousness and diversity in its forms, features, qualities, characters, and aspects. The negative particle “naft” negates the existence of” dvaita” or the world characterized by duality. The word “Advaita”, therefore, stands for the Self which is the substratum of the absence of the world.
Another text of the same Upanisad, neha nanasti kincana (4.4.19) conveys the absence of the world in general in the Self. Yet another text of the same Upanisad, na tadasnati kincana, na tadasnati kascana (3.8.8) affirms that the Self pervades nothing; nor is it pervaded by anything. When it is said that it pervades nothing, its relation to the world is negated. And when it is said that it is not pervaded by anything, the relation of the world to it is nagated. From this it could be gathered that the Self is supra-relational and non-dual. These texts imply that the world given in perception is non-real.
The Vedanta -sutra, tadananyatvam arambhanasabda- dibhyah. (2.1.14) describes the relation between the Self and the world as ananyatvam. Sankara explains the term as “non-existence apart from” (vyatrirekena abhavah). It means that the world has no independent existence apart from the Self. This may be stated in a generalized form that the effect does not exist apart from its material ‘cause. The world, being only a phenomenal appearance of the Self through avidya and not an actual emanation from it, is mithya or non-real.
The view that the world is non-real which is grounded on the Upanisads is substantiated by the Advaitin on the basis of inferential argument which is as follows:
The world is non-real;
it is because it possesses the characterestics
(i) of being manifested by the consciousness reflected in the mental state (drsyatva);
(ii) of being insentient (jadatva);
(iii) of being limited by time, space, and objects (paricchinnatva); and,
(iv) of being composite in nature (amsitva).
It may be objected that perception in forms like “The pot is real” (ghata san), etc., gives us the knowledge that the world comprising pot, etc., is real. And it invalidates the cognition arising from inference and verbal testimony that the world is non-real. The Advaitin, however, maintains that perception is less powerful than inference and verbal testimony and so the knowledge that the world is non-real which arises from these two proofs would deprive the validity of the perceptual cognition that the world is real.
Thus, according to Advaita, the world given in perception is non-real, and its existence would not impair the non-dual nature of the Self. So far the Advaita position.
Vyasatirtha (15th Century A.D.), the noteworthy preceptor of the Dvaita school, in his polemical work, Nyayamrta disproves the contention of the Advaitin that the proofs, inference and verbal testimony make known that the world is non-real and so the self is non-dual. He contends that the proof, perception, per se is more powerful than inference and verbal testimony; and, in forms like’ ‘The pot is real” (ghatah san), etc., it points to the reality of the objects of the world like pot, etc. And, the reality (sattva) that pertains to the objects of the world is the same as that which constitutes the essential nature of the Self according to Advaita (yadrsan brahmanah sattvam tadrsam syat jagatyapi, Nyayamrta, p.98).
Further, in support of his view that perception is more powerful .than inference and verbal testimony, Vyasatirtha adduces four maxims derived from the Purvamimamsa-sutras. And, they are: (i) Upakrama-prabalya-nyaya; [ii] Samanya -visesa - nyaya; (iii) Savakasa - nirvakasa - nyaya and, (iv) Bahubadha-nyaya. He points out that the view of the Advaitin that perception is less powerful than inference and verbal testimony is against these maxims.
Moreover, perception is the sustaining factor (upajivya) of the proofs, inference and verbal testimony. This is evident from the fact that both depend upon perception for their effective functioning. Inference which is the knowledge of invariable relation between the ground of inference (hetu) and the thing that is sought to be established (sadhya) is based upon the perceptual cognition of the relation between the hetu and the sadhya. In the same way, verbal testimony, that is, a sentence in order that it may convey its sense must come within the range of auditory perception. Thus perception, in view of its being the sustaining factor of both inference and verbal testimony, is more powerful than the latter two.
On the basis of the maxim Apaccheda-nyaya derived from the Purvamimamsa-sutras, the Advaitin explains, that the perceptual cognition that the world is real is sublated by the subsequent cognition arising from the major texts of the Upanisads and states that this shows the less powerful nature of perception. Vyasatirtha, however, explains the apaccheda-nyaya in such a way that it does not support the Advaitin’s view.
Thus Vyasatirtha argues that the view of the Advaitin that the perceptual cognition that the world is real is invalidated by the subsequent cognition that the world is non-real which arises from inference and verbal testimony is not valid. Perception is more powerful than the other two proofs. The world given in perception is, therefore, real; and, the Self cannot be viewed as non-dual.
Madhusudana Sarasvati (16th Century A.D.), in his magnum opus, the Advaita-Siddhi examines and disproves, point by point, the contentions of Vyasatirtha against the position of Advaita by revealing their falsity, erroneousness and invalidity. He defends the position of Advaita from his attacks by demonstrating the truth and validity of it on logical and scriptural grounds.
In this work, Dr Ananthanarayanan, after an intensive study of the relevant sections of the Nyayamrta and the Advaita-Siddhi presents with remarkable clarity the arguments of Vyasatirtha against the position of Advaita and Madhusudana Sarasvati’s critical evaluation of them. And, he explains in an accurate and authoritative manner the reasons and grounds adduced by Madhusudana Sarasvati in support of the position of Advaita.
This work is based on adequate knowledge of the primary sources and of the most important secondary material. It is comprehensive and scholarly and is well- documented. The style is clear and interesting. And, it is a significant contribution to the literature in English on Advaita.
The world of scholars will feel grateful to the authorities of the Adi Sankara Advaita Research Centre for bringing out the publication of this work.
I have immense pleasure in commending this work to serious students of Advaita.
The present thesis entitled “On Perception” represents the research work completed under the guidance of Dr S. Revathy, Professor in the Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras, for the Ph.D. Degree of the University of Madras.
The thesis limits itself to a close study and exposition of the nature of perception and its relation to inference, verbal testimony and subsequent sublating cognition as could be gleaned form the controversy between Madhusudana Sarasvati and Vyasatirtha which has given us the classic on Advaita Vedanta, the Advaita-Siddhi.
I am endlessly grateful to my Research Supervisor, Dr S. Revathy for her kind guidance at every stage.
To my Respected Teacher and my mentor Dr N. Veezhinathan, Former Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras, I express my sincere gratitude for his kindness in having contributed a Fore- word to this work.
To the Authorities of the University of Madras, I am thankful for permitting me to work in the Department of Sanskrit for the Ph.D. Degree of the University of Madras.
To my friends, Professor V. Kamakoti, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and J. Krishnan, Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, University of Pondicherry, I express my sense of gratitude for their constant encouragement and moral support.
To Shri K. Raghunathan, Secretary, The National College Management Committee, and to Dr K. Anbarasu, Principal, National College, Tiruchirapalli, I am extremely grateful for giving me their unfailing encouragement in regard to my academic activities.
To the President and other office- bearers of the Adi Sankara Advaita Research Centre, I am endlessly grateful for sponsoring the publication of this work under the auspices of the Centre.
I am thankful to Dr C. Murugan, Assistant Professor, Department of Saiva Siddhanta, University of Madras for typesetting this work, and to Sri M.S. Maniyavan of Elango Achukkoodam for his kind co-operation and neat execution of this work.
An analysis of the nature of the world given in perception during the waking state has led the Advaitin to conclude that the objects of the world are mere appearances and they have no substance in them. Pot, for example, which may be taken as standing for the entire world, is noticed in ordinary experience to be the effect of a lump of clay. When subject to investigation whether it exists in its cause prior to its production or not, or whether it is different from its cause or identical with it, one does not have any irrefutable argument so convincing as to compel certitude regarding its precise nature.
To begin with, the Nyaya school argues that the effect-the pot cannot be considered to be present in the cause - the clay prior to its coming into existence. If it were present, then the causal operation of the efficient cause (nimittakarana), the potter would not be needed. Not only this. There would be the contingency of the manifestation of the pot in the clay even prior to the causal operation of the potter. It follows that the pot prior to coming into existence from the clay does not exist therein. In other words, there is the antecedent non-existence (pragabhava) of the pot in its cause - the clay prior to its production. By the causal operation of the potter, it comes into existence over and above the clay. It is a de novo creation. This theory is known as asat-karya-vada.
The Sankhya school is of the view that the effect - pot must be admitted to be existing in its cause - the clay even prior to its production on the following grounds:
(i) if there is the non-existence of pot prior to its production, then it is similar to a square circle (asat) and there is no possibility of its being produced at any point of time;
(ii) in the experience ‘The pot is originated’ (ghatah utpadyate), the meaning of the verbal root is the function known as origination. And, it must have a substratum which is technically termed karta (dhatvarthavyaparasrayah karta). If the pot were not existent prior to the moment of the origination, then it cannot be viewed as the substratum of origination; and, so the experience ‘The pot is originated’ would be contradicted. Further at the moment of its origination, the pot cannot have any relation to its cause. For, relation is always possible between two entities that are already existing. If not, even the square circle could be viewed to have relation to some cause; and,
(iii) if the effect - pot is non-existent in its cause prior to its production, then it means that it comes into existence from prior non-existence. In that case the non-existence of pot is present in every other factor besides clay and so there is every possibility of the origination of the pot from any other source. But it is not so.
On these grounds the Sankhya school argues that the view that the effect is not present in its cause prior to its production must be given up and it must be held that it exists in its cause prior to its production. If this position is held, the Sankhya school points out, the difficulties outlined above would be avoided. This view that the effect exists in its cause prior to its origination is known as snat-karya- vada.
The Nyaya school at this stage points out one difficulty with regard to the view of the Sankhya that the effect exists in its cause prior to its production. If the effect pre-exists in its cause, then as it is already existent, there is no need for causal operation of the potter to bring it into existence. The Sankhya school would reply that the effect exists in a latent form in the cause and the causal operation is necessary to bring it into a gross form. Origination means only the manifestation of what is latent into a gross form.
The Nyaya school would argue that manifestation of what is latent into a gross form consists in adding certain essential elements and in removing certain non-essential elements. Since according to the basic position of the Sankhya everything is existent, the essential elements as well as the non-essential ones are existent and so they can neither be added nor be removed. Hence the causal operation becomes futile even according to the view that the effect pre-exists in its cause. Thus the concept of manifestation by which is meant origination is a pseudo one.
Gaudapada while reviewing the points of the Sankhya and the Nyaya school in regard to the theory of origination states that the arguments put forward by each of the two schools against the other seem to be quite convincing. The rejection of each of the two views by the other leads us to conclude that there can be no real origination of any object whatsoever.
The Nyaya school which holds that the effect is a de novo creation maintains that the cause and the effect are totally distinct and not identical with each other. If the effect- the pot were viewed as identical with the cause - the clay, then the causal relation which involves the difference between the cause and the effect in the form ‘This one is the cause’, and ‘This one is the effect’ cannot be maintained. This is as it should be; for, one and the same thing cannot be maintained as the cause and the effect at the same time. Further if the cause and the effect are identical, then there would arise the unwelcome position of the absence of any difference in so far as their adaptability to practical needs of life is concerned. The pot is effective as the means to bring water while the clay is not so. Nor does the effect have the efficacy of the clay in bringing into existence the pot. Moreover, when the clay is in the lump form it must be perceived as pot if the clay - the cause and the pot - the effect are identical. This, however, is not the case. From this it follows that the pot and the clay - the effect and the cause are not identical with but different from one another.
The Sankhya school argues that the pot is only a specific configuration of the lump of clay and as such there is no difference between the clay - the cause and the pot- the effect. This is analogous to the cloth which is not different from its cause - the threads that are conjoined in a specific manner. Further, the causal relation that a particular factoris the cause and another, the effect can be had even if we admit the identity between the two. The one which has the effect in its latent form is the cause and the same in a gross form with a specific configuration is the effect. In the same way, the difference in the practical efficiency noticed in the case of the cause and of the effect can be maintained even when the two are identical. The clay in its lump form is suited for some specific purpose while the same clay in its form as pot is adapted to a different need. Thus the effect being present in the cause prior to its production is identical with the cause.
List of Abbreviations
Chapter - I Introduction
Chapter - II Perception - Its Nature
Chapter - III Perception And Inference
Chapter - IV Perception And Verbal Testimony
Chapter - V Perception And Subsequent Sublating Cognition
Chapter - VI Conclusion
Notes On Chapters
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