Monday, June 15, 2009

Siddhantabindu - 8

Siddhantabindu - 8


by Madhusudana Sarasvati


[Commentary on Dasasloki of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada]

171. The identity of the jiva with Isvara in deep sleep, declared in the upanishads (Ch. Up. 6.8.1 - 'he becomes united with Existence'), is based only on the absence of identification with the body and senses in that state. It is therefore to be understood only in a secondary sense. (It is like the statement 'this student is a lion' which is based only on the similarity of some qualities such as courage, etc. Here the similarity between Isvara and the jiva in the state of deep sleep is that both are devoid of identification with the body and senses). The impressions (samskaras) do not fall in the category of the material cause of the effects which have the witness-consciousness as their substratum (namely, recollection, doubt, etc.). The impressions are the efficient cause of these effects. Therefore there is no difference (or multiplicity) in the witness-consciousness even though the impressions are different in the inner organ of each jiva. (The limiting adjunct of the witness is nescience which is only one).

Note: The impressions in the mind (samskaras) are the efficient cause for recollection, doubt, etc. The question arises how the recollection on waking up, which is the effect, can be of the same nature as the samskaras, because the effect is always of the nature of the material cause and not of the efficient cause. For example, a pot is of the same nature as its material cause, clay, and not of the nature of its efficient cause, namely, the potter. The answer to this question is that during deep sleep the samskaras become merged in avidya which is the material cause of the recollection, etc., and it is because of this that the recollection is of the same nature as the samskaras. The material cause is of two kinds; the cause that gets transformed as the effect, as milk gets transformed as curd, known as transformative cause, and the cause that does not get transformed but only appears as the effect, like a shell appearing as silver, which is known as transfigurative cause. Here the witness-consciousness is the transfigurative cause and avidya is the transformative cause.

172. In the waking state, however, since the inner organ falls in the category of the material cause of the effect which has the knower as its substratum, there are different knowers (because the inner organ is different for each). Since the knower is none other than the witness himself with an additional limiting adjunct (namely, the mind with vrittis), there is no inconsistency in the knower remembering (what the witness experienced). The Vartikakara (Sri Suresvaracharya) says in Brihadaranyaka vartika, 3.4. 54-55: "The witness does not differ from one body to another even though the knower and the means of knowledge are different, just as an external object is not cognized differently by different persons. Therefore he (witness) is known as the 'atma'. The knower, etc., who are witnessed by the witnessing consciousness may change, but the atma does not undergo any change because it is also the witness of the absence of the knower, means of knowledge, etc.". Since the revered Vartikakara denies difference in the witness even in the empirical state, it has to be concluded that difference in the witness in the deep sleep state postulated by some is only due to sheer delusion.

Note. The cognition of external objects in the waking state is what is referred to as 'effect' above. It has the knower as its substratum. The cause of the cognition is a vritti of the mind. The witness knows the cognition of objects (in the form-I know the pot), as well as their non-cognition (in the form- I do not know the pot).

173. Obj: Sometimes some one may get a recollection (on waking up) in the form 'I slept unhappily' and so there could be experience of unhappiness also in deep sleep.

Answer: That is not possible because during deep sleep the factors that cause sorrow do not exist. But happiness, being the very nature of the self, is ever existent. There may be unhappiness in a secondary sense because of the unsatisfactory nature of the bed, etc., and because of that there may arise a notion in the form 'I slept unhappily'.

174. Or, there can be sorrow even in sleep if it is accepted that each of the three states is itself threefold. Thus, when there is knowledge through a valid means, it is waking in the waking state. When there is delusion like that of shell-silver, it is dream in the waking state. When because of fatigue there is torpor, it is sleep in the waking state. Similarly when in dream one receives a mantra, etc., it is waking in the dream state. When during a dream a person feels that he is seeing a dream, it is dream in the dream state. When something that cannot be described in the waking state is vaguely experienced in dream, then it is sleep in the dream state. Similarly in the state of deep sleep when there is a sattvic vritti of the nature of happiness, it is waking in sleep. Then there is the recollection 'I slept happily'. At that time when there is a rajasic vritti, it is dream in sleep. Only thereafter there may arise a recollection in the form 'I slept unhappily'. In that when there is a tamasic vritti, it is sleep in the deep sleep state. Thereafter there is the recollection 'I was totally ignorant'. This is how it has been clearly described in works such as Vasishthavartika.

175. Thus the microcosm (related to the body) is Visva, the corresponding macrocosm is Virat, and the corresponding deity is Vishnu. The microcosm is the waking state, the function of the corresponding deity is sustenance, and the macrocosm is sattvaguna. The microcosm is Taijasa, the macrocosm is Hiranyagarbha, and the deity is Brahma. The microcosm is dream, the function of the deity is creation and the macrocosm is rajoguna. The microcosm is Praajna, the macrocosm is the unmanifested, and the deity is Rudra. The microcosm is deep sleep, the function of the deity is dissolution, and the macrocosm is tamoguna. Since the microcosm, macrocosm and the deity are all one and the same, by meditation on these along with the three limbs of pranava (a,u,m) as identical even when limited by the corresponding adjuncts, the world of Hiranyagarbha is attained. Then, by the acquisition of purity of mind gradual liberation (kramamukti) is attained. By negating all these limiting adjuncts and by the knowledge of the pure witness-consciousness direct liberation is attained.

Note: The correspondences are based on Mandukya upanishad.

176. Thus all the three, Visva, Taijasa, and Praajna, along with the three states are all due to nescience, and so, being objects of knowledge they are unreal. So the conclusion is that 'I am the unconditioned pure witness, known as the fourth'. Thus, even though empirically all the distinctions are accountable, in reality there are no such distinctions at all and so there is no inconsistency. This has been dealt with elaborately by us in Vedantakalpalatika and so the matter is concluded here.

End of commentary on sloka 8.

177. Obj: Anticipating the doubt that since the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep and the entities identified with them (Visva, Taijasa and Praajna) are unreal, their witness would also be unreal because there is no distinction, the reality of the witness is declared by bringing out the distinction: "The witness is all-pervading, is the desired goal, is self-existent, and is not dependent on any thing else, while the entire universe which is different from it is unreal. I remain as the one auspicious self free from all attributes". (Sloka 9).

178. About the witness it is said, "You cannot see the seer of sight" (Br.Up.3.4.2). The sruti says, "Everything else is perishable" (Br.Up.3.4.2). So the entire universe, which is different from the witness and is the witnessed, is unreal, but not the witness, because it is beyond any possibility of sublation, is known (in a general way) as the substratum of the illusion, and there is no one who can testify to its sublation. The word 'api' should be taken to denote all the other characteristics of the witness which are not mentioned here.

Note: For there to be superimposition of silver on shell the shell should be seen in a general way as some object in front, but its specific characteristic of shell-ness should not be known. If it is not seen at all, as on a dark night, the illusion of silver cannot arise at all. Here the witness is the substratum and it is known in a general way. The witness itself can never be negated because that will need another witness, and there is none to witness its negation.

179. In view of the sruti statement "What is limited is mortal" Cha.Up. 7.24.1), limitedness and unreality are co-extensive, and so when limitedness is denied unreality is also denied. So it has been said: 'since it (Atma) is all-pervading'. By the statement 'All this is indeed Brahman' which says that it is everything, unlimitedness in space and time is brought out. Space (and air), though limited in space and time are said to be pervasive in a secondary sense because of their comparative bigness.

180. Obj: Since Atma is all-pervading and therefore eternal, and is positive in nature, it cannot be of the nature of removal of sorrow (because removal of sorrow has a beginning and an end, and is of the nature of negation). Nor can it be of the nature of happiness (which also has a beginning and an end).

181. No, because it is referred to as supremely beneficial, which is sought after by human beings. The sruti statements such as, "This self is dearer than a son, dearer than wealth, dearer than everything else, innermost" (Br. Up. 1.4.8), "That which is infinite is alone happiness" (Cha. Up. 7.23.1), "This itself is supreme bliss" (Br. Up. 4.3.33), "Brahman is consciousness and bliss" (Br. Up. 3.9.28), declare that the self is of the nature of supreme bliss.

Note: The objection raised is that the joys and sorrows experienced through the senses and the mind have a beginning and an end. So they cannot be the same as the self which is eternal. The answer is that bliss is the very nature of the self. The joys experienced through the senses and mind are only a reflection of this bliss in vrittis of the mind.

182. Though it is eternal, it is spoken of in the world in a secondary sense as arising and ending when it is manifested by an appropriate vritti of the mind brought about by one's religious merit. (The enjoyment of happiness is the result of accumulated punya. This happiness is nothing but a reflection of the bliss of the self in the mind). The self is concealed by nescience and so it appears as if it has not been attained. When the nescience is removed by the mere knowledge of the self, it appears as if it has been attained. The effort of the seeker to attain it is thus understandable. Since the self is the substratum of the superimposed world which is of the nature of misery, the self itself is the negation of the world and so it is of the nature of negation of misery. In this way also it is a human goal.

Note-1: When a person intensely desires something his mind is agitated. When the object desired is attained, his mind becomes calm and remains so until another desire arises to disturb it. When the mind is calm, the bliss which is the real nature of every human being, becomes clearly reflected in it, just as the moon is clearly reflected in a pond in which the water is clear and not disturbed by wind. When the mind is agitated by anxieties, fears and other such emotions, the reflection of bliss is indistinct like the reflection of the moon in a pond in which the water is muddy or disturbed by wind. Thus happiness is the result of the calming of the mind for the time being, but it is wrongly attributed to the attainment of the desired object. It is this temporary happiness which has a beginning and an end that is normally understood by the word 'happiness' in the world. But the bliss which is the very nature of the self is eternal, since the self or Brahman, is eternal.

Note-2: The illusory snake is negated when the rope is known. So it is said that the rope is the negation of the snake. The substratum is the negation of the superimposed object. Similarly the self is the negation of the world superimposed on it by nescience.

183. Obj: Is happiness experienced in liberation, or is it not? It cannot be the first alternative, because there being no body and senses then, there is no means of manifesting the happiness. If it is said that even without the means of manifestation happiness can be experienced, then it would follow that even in the transmigratory state it could be experienced. The second alternative is also not tenable, because that means there is nothing to be sought after. What is capable of being known (experienced) can alone be a thing sought after. That is why the followers of Vishnu (dualists) say that only by eating sugar one can enjoy its sweetness. (The dualists say that the bliss of Brahman can be enjoyed only if one remains different from Brahman. If one becomes Brahman itself, as Advaita says, one cannot enjoy the bliss of Brahman, just as one cannot enjoy the sweetness of sugar if one becomes sugar itself).

184. Answer: No, since the Atma is self-existent. It is of the nature of self-effulgent consciousness. Even though in the transmigratory state the Atma does not appear to be of the nature of supreme bliss because of being obscured by avidya, when avidya is removed by knowledge it shines by itself as self-effulgent and as supreme bliss. Therefore it does not need any means of manifestation (like the senses).

185. Obj: Even in the view that happiness is of the nature of self-effulgent knowledge it cannot be the Atma. Knowledge is the meaning of the verbal root (jnaa) and so it is an action, and as such it must have a locus. (An action is performed by a sentient being who is the locus of the action. So there are two, the actor and the action). The cognition (of the knower) is in the form 'I know' and not 'I am knowledge'. (If knowledge is the Atma then the cognition should be 'I am knowledge'). Then how can there be the theory of non-duality?

186. No, because it (the knowledge spoken of here) has no dependence on any locus. In accordance with the sruti statements, "Brahman that is direct and immediate, the Atma that is within all" (Br. Up. 3.4.1), "Brahman is Reality, Consciousness, Infinite" (Tai. Up. 2.1.1), "Brahman is Consciousness, Bliss" (Br.Up.3.9.28), the Atma is self-effulgent consciousness-bliss. Because of identification of the consciousness with the mind, consciousness is attributed to the vritti of the mind (which takes the form of the object cognized). As a result the cognition takes the form 'I know' and seems to be dependent on the mind. The meaning of the root (jnaa) and the origin and destruction (of knowledge) pertain only to the vritti of the mind. The pure consciousness which is the substratum of everything is not dependent on any thing else and so there is no duality. Therefore it is established that the Atma which is consciousness-bliss is real and the entire universe which is different from it is unreal.

End of commentary on sloka 9.

Commentary on sloka 10:

187. If the entire universe is non-existent, then by denying it the truth of the Atma cannot be known. There is no need to deny the existence of the horn of a rabbit (because it has never existed). As a rule it is only a thing that is known by some valid means of knowledge to exist somewhere that may be denied somewhere else. Thus, since its denial is illogical, the universe is not non-existent.

188. Answer: No. It is said: "It is not one; how can there be a second different from it? It has neither absoluteness nor non-absoluteness. It is neither void nor non-void since it is devoid of duality. How can I describe that which is established by the entire Vedanta!"

189. One is what is capable of being counted as one. A second is what is capable of giving rise to the cognition of a second relative to it. When there is no one, how can there be a second? A second is what implies a third, etc.

190. Obj: But by the sruti "One only, without a second" (Cha.Up. 6.2.1), oneness is postulated.

191. No. It is said (in the above sloka) - nor even absoluteness. Absoluteness is oneness. That statement in the sruti - one only, without a second - is also due to avidya. (When the sruti says "One only, without a second", it is only repeating the general notion in the world which is due to avidya. Even absoluteness cannot be postulated in respect of the Atma because that is also a relative term). Then can it be said that if the sruti does not really declare the oneness of the Atma, it follows, on the basis of the means of knowledge such as perception, that there is definitely multiplicity?

192. The answer is - No. Not even non-absoluteness. Non-absoluteness is 'being many'. This follows from the sruti statements such as, "There is no diversity whatsoever here" (Br. Up. 4.4.19), "One only, without a second" (Cha. 6.2.1), "Now therefore the instruction, not this, not this" (Br. Up. 2.3.6).

193. Obj: In that case, since everything is denied, there is only void.

194. The answer is, no. It is not a void. "If any one considers Brahman as non-existent, then he himself becomes non-existent. (Because Brahman is none other than his own real nature). If any one knows Brahman as existing, then they (the knowers of Brahman) consider him as existing" (Tai. Up. 2.6.1), Brahman is Reality, consciousness and infinite" (Tai. Up. 2.1.1), and the srutis starting from "O dear boy, this was only existence in the beginning" (Cha. 6.2.1), and up to "All this world has this as the self, it is the realty, it is the Atma, that thou art" (Cha. Up. 6.8.7). By these srutis the reality of the Atma is declared; it is the substratum of all illusions, and it is where all negation culminates (it cannot be negated at all).

195. Obj: Then it would mean that the Atma has the qualities of reality, knowledge, etc.

196. The answer is, no, because it has been said that it is not non-void. (Non-void means 'not empty' i.e. there is some thing on it such as a quality. Or in other words, it has some quality. So by the double negative 'not non-void' it is meant that it does not have any quality). While by the two terms 'one' and 'without a second' the existence of any thing else of the same species or a different species is denied, by the term 'only' (eva) all differences such as the difference between a quality and the possessor of a quality are denied. The reason for all these is given as - 'because of being devoid of duality'. What is divided into two is 'dual'. The state of being dual is duality. It has been said in the Vartika: "What is divided into two is said to be 'dual' and such a state is called 'duality' (Br. Vartika. 4.3.186) . Where there is no duality or the state of being divided into two, that is non-duality. This is the literal meaning. As the sruti says, "Like water, one, the seer and free from duality" (Br. Up. 4.3.32). Since it is only the knowledge of the counter-correlative that is the cause of easily becoming aware of the absence of some thing, and since duality has been accepted as indeterminable, denial is quite logical because the objects are knowable through the means of knowledge such as perception. (This sentence is explained in the note below).

Note: The last sentence is in refutation of the statement in para 187 that, as a rule it is only a thing that is known by some valid means of knowledge to exist somewhere that may be denied somewhere else. In order to deny the existence of a snake in a particular place the person denying must know what a snake is. But it is not necessary that he should have seen a real snake. It is enough if he has seen the picture of a snake somewhere. The objection raised in para 187 is that the world is non-existent according to Advaita and there is no point in denying the presence of a non-existent thing like the horn of a hare. The answer is that the world is not totally non-existent. The Advaita view is that the world is neither real nor unreal. Moreover, it has been accepted as having empirical reality. The objects in the world can be known through the means of knowledge such as perception, inference, etc. Only their absolute reality is denied. So the denial is quite justified.

197. In that case please indicate such an Atma by pointing it out with the finger.

198. It is not possible; it has been said, "How can I describe". 'How' indicates impossibility. Being non-dual it cannot become an object of speech. The srutis, "He explained without words" (Nr.Uttara Tapani Up. 7), "That from which words return without attaining it, along with the mind" (Tai. Up. 2.4.1), "You cannot know the knower of knowledge" (Br. Up. 3.4.2), indicate this. If it is asked, how can Vedanta be the valid means of knowledge if the Atma cannot become the object of speech, the answer is: Even though the Atma is not an object, ignorance about it is destroyed by a mere vritti of the mind of the form of the Atma. This is expressed by the term 'That which is established by the entire Vedanta'. The srutis such as, "It is known to him to whom it is not an object of knowledge; he who thinks he knows it does not know. It is unknown to those who think they know it well, and known to those who know that they do not know it (as an object)" (Kena. 2.3), "That which is not comprehended by the mind, but that by which the mind is said to comprehend, know that alone to be Brahman and not that which is worshipped" (Kena. 1.6), show that the Atma is not an object. Thus it is established that when avidya is destroyed by the vritti in the form of the indivisible Atman generated by the statements of Vedanta, all the sufferings that are imagined because of avidya come to an end, and one remains as supreme bliss, having attained the ultimate aim.

End of commentary on sloka 10.



1. I do not praise vyasa who did not bind together the entire content (of Vedanta) well even with threads (aphorisms). I bow down to Sankara and Suresvara who strung together the entire meaning even without them. (Or, I not only praise Vyasa but also bow down to Sankara and Suresvara who brought out the meaning of the aphorisms).

2. This treatise by Madhusudana Sarasvati meant for the delight of the good, though small in size, is abundant in content, like the wish-yielding gem Chintamani.

3. Whatever is there of excellence in this is the guru's and not mine. Whatever is not felicitous is mine and not the guru's.

4. This short treatise has been composed by me for Balabhadra (my disciple) after repeated requests by him.Let the generous and discerning people examine and decide what is correct and what is not in this.

Here ends the Siddhantabindu composed by Madhusudana Sarasvati, disciple of the most revered Paramahamsa Parivrajaka Sri Visvesvara Acharya.


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