Posted by: adbhutam | July 22, 2009

A Vichara on Swatantra and Paratantra (Independent and Dependent) Realities

shrIgurubhyo namaH

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy


// Madhva (1238-1317 CE)

According to Madhva there are two orders of reality: 1. svatantra, independent reality, which consists of Brahman alone and 2. paratantra, dependent reality, which consists of jivas (souls) and jada (lifeless objects). Although dependent reality would not exist apart from brahman’s will, this very dependence creates a fundamental distinction between brahman and all else, implying a dualist view. //

A vichara on Swatantra & Paratantra

These two are not real on the same footing:

1.  The PAramArthika is that in which the vyAvahArika does not exist.  P can exist by itself. But V has to depend on the P for its existence.

2. Swatantra, Hari, exists by Himself. Paratantra, world, has to depend on S, Hari.

3.  The world is said to be ‘anityam, asukham lokam..’ in the Bh.Gita 9.33.

4.  Our Goal, ParamapurushArtha, is Hari, Swatantra, and not the world.  This is because the S does not have the properties of Paratantra world in it.

5.  Sri Purandaradasa says about samsara: ‘hEsige (= filth) samsaaradalli..’ in his song: ‘IsabEku iddu jaisabEku..’

6.  Hari cannot have the ‘hEsige’ aspect in Him.

7.  Hari is like a cup of milk.  To have the samsara/world in Him will be like a drop of ink in the milk.  This will render the milk unfit for use.

8.  Swatantra Hari is adorable only because He is free of the anitya, etc. doSha-s.

9.  The paratantra world is nitya with changes (pariNAmi nitya).  Swatantra Hari is nitya without vikara-s (kooTastha nitya).

10.  Since Hari and the prapancha are of opposite characteristics, the two, Swatantra and Paratantra are not ‘satya on the same footing’.  We can say two things are real on the same footing in a situation such as this: In a dream I encounter two strangers.  The older man tells me that he is from a nearby village and he and his son have a meeting with someone in this town.

Now, the father-son duo, the strangers that i meet in the dream, can be said to be real on the same footing inasmuch as the two belong to the dream.  Once i wake up from the dream, both disappear and no longer are called real.

In the case on hand, Swatantra and paratantra are not real on the same footing because, the Swatantra Hari is sought as the Goal without the samsara/world being in Him. It is only because He is free from samsara and has adorable qualities that He becomes worthy of being sought as the ultimate Goal.  That is the meaning of the term pAramaarthika.  Thus the PAramArthika Swatantra does not/cannot have the vyavaharika paratantra in it.  That is what is meant by the expression: the two are not real on the same footing.

‘HariH para-taraH’ means that He is Greater, Supreme.  The suffix ‘taraH’ means: comparatively. The comparison shows that Swatantra is real but not the same way as the paratantra is real. ‘HariH sarvOttamaH’ also means the same. The suffix ‘tamaH’ means the superlative.  Why is the paratantra jagat not called ‘taraH/tamaH’ even though ‘satyam’?  It is because Hari is independently real but jagat is only dependently real.  This distinction is inescapable.  That is the meaning of the Paramarthika-vyavaharika divide.  The vyavaharika can never get into the paramarthika and sully the latter. It is only because this possibility is not there, the Swatantra is taught as the Ideal, Goal to be sought after by all.  The paratantra, true to its nature, is taught to be given up.  Sri Krishna says in the Gita (7.14): He who surrenders to Me alone, the Swatantra, can cross over MaayA, the paratantra.

The characteristic of vyavaharika is: It will not be experienced/contacted/seen as real when the Paramarthika is realized/attained/known.  When Hari, the Swatantra, is realized as the Absolute Truth, the paratantra jagat will not be seen as real.  That makes the paratantra a lower order of reality than the Swatantra.  The vyavaharika is of a lower order of reality than the Paramarthika.

Sri Purandara Dasaru sang: ‘alli nodalu Rama, illi nodalu Rama, ellelli nodidaru alli Sri Rama..’

[I see Rama there, here and everywhere…] and

‘Govinda ninna nAmave chanda….aNu, reNu, tRNa, kAShTha paripUrNa govinda…’

[Oh! Govinda, Your Name is so sweet….every particle, speck, blade of grass, wood…everything is surfeit with Govinda…]

These bring out the experience of the realized person.  As mentioned in the Gita, such a Jnani will see Hari, the Swatantra, in the place of the jagat, paratantra.

The above analysis shows that the terms Swatantra and paratantra can easily fit into the terms Paramarthika and vyavaharika.  In this analysis the jagat aspect of the paratantra was taken up.  The jiva aspect of paratantra also will result in the same as above. Put briefly, it happens this way:  When the paratantra jiva realizes his true nature, he no longer has samsara.  That means, the jagat (paratantra) is no longer there for him.  He is  no longer samsari.  He has no dependence on anything.  Sri Krishna says in the Gita III chapter: na cha asya sarvabhUteshu kashchidartha vyapAshrayaH.  He has no dependence of whatever type on whatever being in all the worlds.  That is the meaning of moksha from bandha.  He at once becomes freed from his paratantra nature.  Moksha and paratantratva are antithetical.  Swatantratva and moksha are synthetical.

The Bhagavadgita says about a Jnani:

bahUnAm janmanAm ante jnAnavAn mAm prapadyate

vAsudevaH sarvamiti sa mahaatma sudurlabhaH || 7.19 ||

//At the end of several lives (of sadhana), the aparoksha jnAni comprehends My true nature as ‘Vaasudeva is All’. Such a Great JnAni is very rare to come across. //

As per this verse, the jnAni realizes Vasudeva as ‘All’.  Is the jnAni also included in the ‘All’? Yes, for if the jnAni is not included in what constitutes Vasudeva, the statement that ‘Vasudeva is All’ will be an incorrect declaration.  For this declaration to be true, the jnAni’s realization has to be admitted to be of the nature: Vasudeva is everything, including me’.  Thus we have a situation where there is nothing that Vasudeva is not.  So, the vyavaharika, paratantra, jiva, now Jnani,  and the vyavaharika, paratantra jaDa prapancha, have no separate existence other than that of Vasudeva, the Paramarthika, Swatantra Advaita Tattva.

The Three states/types of Reality (sattaa-traividhyam)

While commenting on the mantra ”satyam cha anRtam cha Satyam abhavat’ (Taittiriya Up. II.6) Sri Shankaracharya says: satyam = vyavaharavishayam since this is being mentioned in the context of ‘sRishti’ of the world.  He adds: this is not paramArthasatyam (absolute reality) since Brahman alone indeed is paramArtha satyam.  This vyavaharavishayam satyam is only Apekshikam, relative.  He explains: when compared to the water in a mirage, the water (that we actually use for drinking, etc.) is real.  This is what is meant by ‘vyavaharika satyam’.  That which is not thus real is anRtam, unreal.

The above bhashyam brings to the fore that three types of ‘reality’ are admitted in the Shruti.  Commonly these are known as: 1.PAramArthika Satyam which is Brahman alone, 2. vyAvahArika satyam which constitutes the common world experience of samsara and 3. prAtibhAsika satyam which is a seeming reality, actually within the samsaaric experience.  This seeming reality of say, the mirage-water or rope-snake, is corrected in the vyavahara itself and does not require Brahma jnanam for this.  The vyvahaarika satyam, of course, gets corrected upon the rise of Brahma jnAnam.  The Shruti vakyams for this are: Ekameva adviteeyam, neha naanaa asti kinchana, sarvam khalu idam brahma, etc.

What is worthy of noting in the above bhashyam is the Shruti pramaanam for the existence of the three types of reality.  The Taittiriya shruti we took up above is the pramanam for the three types of reality.  It is not the concoction of the advaitins/Bhagavatpada/later Acharyas. The Bhashyam uses the two specific names and the third is only implied.

Om Tat Sat


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