Posted by: adbhutam | June 21, 2011

The method of ‘nyAya’ in Shankara BhAShyam


The Tarka sangraha, a book authored by Annam BhaTTa on the elementary study of the Tarka shastra, presents the five-limbed syllogism, पञ्चावयवाक्यम् , that characterizes the process of an inference, अनुमितिज्ञानम्,  thus:
प्रतिज्ञा,हेतु,उदाहरण,उपनय,निगमनानि पञ्चावयवाः । पर्वतो वह्निमान् इति प्रतिज्ञा । धूमवत्त्वादिति हेतुः । यो यो धूमवान् इत्युदाहरणम् । तथा च अयम् इति उपनयः । तस्मात् तथा इति निगमनम् ।

There are five members of this syllogism: the Proposition, the Reason, the Example, the Application and the Conclusion.  ‘The mountain is fiery’ is the Proposition. ‘Because it smokes (smoky)’ is the Reason. ‘Whatever smokes is fiery as a culinary hearth (kitchen oven)’ is the Example.  ‘And so this mountain is’ is the Application. ‘Therefore it is fiery’ is the Conclusion.

In the अध्यासभाष्यम्  we find a section where the above syllogism is applied by Shankaracharya:

After giving out a succinct definition of what an adhyAsa is, Shankara raises a question with a view to settle the point that all vyavahara, loukika or shAstraic, is based on adhyAsa:

कथं पुनरविद्यावद्विषयाणि प्रत्यक्षादीनि प्रमाणानि शास्त्राणि चेति ।
// How, again, can the means of valid knowledge, such as direct perception as well as the scriptures, have as their locus a cognizer who is subject to nescience (avidyA)? //

The above constitutes the presentation of the Propostion, प्रतिज्ञा, though in the form of a question.  This is because, as stated earlier, Shankara had, while giving out the definition of adhyaasa, stated that all vyavahara involving a knower and the means to knowledge, be it in the field of secular activity or in the realm of scriptural activity of either the Veda-pUrva involving vidhi-pratiShedha, or even the Veda-anta, pertaining to mokSha, has for its basis this ignorance-born superimposition. As Shankara wants to establish this on firm grounds, He adopts the method of a syllogism.

उच्यते – देहेन्द्रियादिषु अहंममाभिमानरहितस्य प्रमातृत्वानुपपत्तौ प्रमाणप्रवृत्त्यनुपपत्तेः । न हि इन्द्रियाण्यनुपादाय प्रत्यक्षादिव्यवहारः सम्भवति । न च अधिष्ठानमन्तरेण इन्द्रियाणां व्यवहारः सम्भवति । न च अनध्यस्तात्मभावेन देहेन कश्चिद्व्याप्रियते ।

The Reply:
// Since a man without self-identification with the body, mind, senses, etc. cannot become a cognizer (pramaatR), knower. And as such, the means of knowing will not have any function.  Without calling forth the sense organs, no sensory activity is possible.  Without the body in place, there is no way the sense organs will function. And without the idea of ‘I am this body’ none will perform any act. //

This portion constitutes the Reason, hetu. The reason is presented in a ‘vyatireka’ (discordance) mode as can be seen from the use of  न हि ….

न च एतस्मिन् सर्वस्मिन्नसति असङ्गस्यात्मनः प्रमातृत्वमुपपद्यते । न च प्रमातृत्वमन्तरेण प्रमाणप्रवृत्तिरस्ति ।

// In the absence of all these (the idea of I am the body, the senses, their activity, etc.stated above) the Atman that is devoid of any attachment to anything cannot have cognizership/knowership.  And without such a fundamental knowership no activity to know anything will come about. //

In the above section the Example, दृष्टान्त,  is being stated.  The example of the Atman who does not have any superimposed idea of being the body, having the sense organs, activating them and the fundamental ‘knowership’ is given.  This is called a व्यतिरेकदृष्टान्त, a contrary example.  Instead of giving an अन्वयदृष्टान्त Shankara chooses to give the Atman as the example to highlight the contrast.  Of course, after this idea is ‘concluded’, Shankara does give an upamAna, पश्वादिभिश्च अविशेषात् meaning: the sense-organ based activity of humans, both the learned and the lay, is no different from the activity of animals, etc.

The ‘hetUpanaya’ or Application of the reason in the case on hand is embedded in the ‘Reason’ section itself for Shankara details the ‘hetu’ in order to bring to our senses the way a person functions in the process of securing knowledge by the use of the senses, the body that holds the senses and the fundamental ‘I am a knower’ idea.  It is quite familiar to us.

तस्मादविद्यावद्विषयाण्येव प्रत्यक्षादीनि प्रमाणानि शास्त्राणि च ।
Therefore it follows that the means of knowledge, such as direct perception as well as the scriptures, must have a man as their locus who is subjected to nescience.
This constitutes the Conclusion, निगमनम्. The word ‘tasmAt’ could be seen in the Tarkasnagraha delineation too for the expression of the nigamanam.

A distinctive feature of the syllogism is: The pratijnA and the nigamanam are almost similarly worded. In other words, the process starts with a proposition, a claim.  After the ‘proof’ part is gone through, the conclusion expresses itself as a restatement of the proposition.  We can see this demonstrated in the adhyAsa bhashya portion taken up above. The first sentence and the last sentence are to be noticed. There is a word एव  that indicates that the process of the syllogism establishes, emphasises, the proposition, claim, pratijnA.

By this process Shankara establishes the fact of superimposition that lies at the foundation for all human activity – secular, religious AND spiritual.  For, if one has no idea of ‘I am a human, I am ignorant, I am bound in the transmigratory life, I have to get release from the cycle of birth and death and misery’, he would not engage himself in the study of the Vedanta shAstra and put into practice what it teaches.  Such a one who is devoid of this superimposed idea is a mukta puruSha.  Such a one has no urge to engage in any action, loukika, vaidika or moksha-para, for his own sake. He is celebrated in the Bhagavadgita thus:

यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यादात्मतृप्तश्च मानवः।
आत्मन्येव च सन्तुष्टस्तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते।।3.17।।
3.17 But that man who rejoices only in theSelf and is satisfied with the Self, and is contented only in the Self-for him there is no duty to perform.

नैव तस्य कृतेनार्थो नाकृतेनेह कश्चन।
न चास्य सर्वभूतेषु कश्चिदर्थव्यपाश्रयः।।3.18।।
3.18 For him there is no concern here at all with performing action; nor any (concern) with nonperformance. Moreover, for him there is no dependence on any object to serve any purpose.

We have seen in the foregoing two extremes:  The adhyAsa bhAshya presenting the state of, the fundamental cause of, samsara, bondage.  The Bhagavadgita presenting the state of, the nature of, liberation, mokSha.  The two extremes are characterized by avidyA and vidyA respectively.

Here is another instance of a syllogism in the Shankara Bhashya:
In the Mandukya kArikA 2.4 bhashya we have:
jaagrat dRshyAnAm bhaavAnAm vaitathyamiti pratijnA. dRshyatvAditi
hetuH. svapnadRshyabhAvavaditi dRShTAntaH. yathaa tatra svapne dRshyAnAm bhAvAnAm vaitathyam tathA jAgarite api dRshyatvam avishiShTam iti hetUpanayaH. tasmAt jaagarite api vaitathyam smRtamiti nigamanam.
//The proposition (major premise) to be established is the unreality of objects seen in the waking stae.  ‘Being perceived’ is the ground of inference (middle term).  And the illustration (in confirmation) is ‘like an object seen in a dream.’  And the
assertion of the presence of the middle term in the minor term is made thus: yathaa tatra svapne, as (objects ‘perceived’) there in a dream, are false, so also are they false in the waking state; the fact of being perceived being equally present.  And the concluding reiteration is: therefore falsity is admitted of ojbects in the waking state as well.//
In the above instance the five ‘limbs’ of anumAna are clearly brought out.

Yet another instance from the Bhashya:Verse 31 of the Gaudapada kArikA reads thus along with the bhAShya: मनोदृश्यमिदं द्वैतं यत्किञ्चित् चराचरम् । मनसो ह्यमनीभावे द्वैतं नैवोपलभ्यते ॥ 31 ॥  — रज्जुसर्पवद्विकल्पनारूपं द्वैतरूपेण मन एवेत्युक्तम्। तत्र किं प्रमाणमिति, अन्वयव्यतिरेकलक्षणमनुमानमाह। कथम् ? तेन हि मनसा विकल्प्यमानेन दृश्यं मनोदृश्यम् इदं द्वैतं सर्वं मन इति प्रतिज्ञा (this is the pratijnA), तद्भावे भावात् तदभावे चाभावात्। (This is the hetu).  मनसो हि अमनीभावे निरुद्धे विवेकदर्शनाभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां रज्जवामिव सर्पे लयं गते वा सुषुप्ते (here two dRShTAnta-s are given) द्वैतं नैवोपलभ्यत इति अभावात्सिद्धं द्वैतस्यासत्त्वमित्यर्थः । (here the hetUpanayaH and the nigamanam can be discerned clearly)

[ 3.31: All the multiple objects, comprising the movable and the immovable, are perceived by the mind alone. For duality is never perceived when the mind ceases to act] ‘This duality, as a whole, that is perceived by the mind, is nothing but the mind, which is itself imagined (on the Self)’ – this is the pratijnA, proposition.  For duality endures so long as the mind does (anvaya), and disappears with the disappearance of the mind (vyatireka). (this is the Reason). For, when the mind ceases to be the mind, when, like the illusory snake disappearing in the rope, the mind’s activity stops through the practice of discriminating insight and detachment, or when the mind gets absorbed in the state of deep sleep (two examples are given), duality is not perceived (here the ‘application’).  From this non-existence is proved the unreality of duality. (here the ‘conclusion’ is stated). This is the purport.//


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