The following is the fourth Buddhist verse quoted by Sri Madhvacharya in his ‘Tattvodyota’, as stated by Dr.BNK Sharma, in support of the stand that Advaita is no different from Buddhism:
नित्यभावनया भातं तद्भावं योगिनं नयेत् ॥ ४
The observed world is characterized by/attended with defects such as inertness, misery and ephemerality. The aim of a spiritual aspirant is to overcome this state. This will be possible only by contemplating on its adversary namely the Ultimate Truth which shines at all times, without any break. When this contemplation intensifies it will take him to that very state of the Truth which destroys the misery-filled samsara.
The Bhagavadgita for example captures this idea succinctly:
तं विद्याद् दुःखसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम्।
स निश्चयेन योक्तव्यो योगोऽनिर्विण्णचेतसा।।6.23।।
6.23 One should know that severance of contact with sorrow to be what is called Yoga. That Yoga has to be practised with perservance and with an undepressed heart.
We shall take up the various elements found in the Buddhist verse:
जाड्यसंवृतिदुःखान्तपूर्वदोषविरोधि यत् ।
नित्यभावनया भातं तद्भावं योगिनं नयेत् ॥ ४
जाड्यम् – All worldly objects, the world itself, is inert. It requires the Consciousness in the form of ‘I’ to validate it. If no one were to be able to know an object at any time, past, present or future, such an object cannot be said to exist. For to say ‘it exists’ there is required a knower. And that knower should be able to know it. If there is no way of knowing an object by any one at any time, there is no way of speaking about the existence of that object. And anything known, objectified, is inert. When the Upanishads exhort us to ‘know’ the Self and give out a number of means, upAya-s, for it, it should be carefully noted that the Upanishad does not want us to ‘know’ the Self/Brahman as an object. Rather it wants us to realize the Self as our own Self, ourselves, which can never be an object; it being the ever subject. In case anyone tries to know It as an object, as not one’s Self, one is rendering the Atman/Brahman an inert object, like a pot.
संवृतिः – The samsaric existence is a ‘covering up’. In reality we do not have any transmigratory life. Being without the body, अशरीरत्वम्, is our very nature. Yet ignorance, avidyA, makes us as though embodied and undergo this life. What does this life ‘cover’? It conceals, covers, the underlying Reality, the Ever-free, Ever-Pure Self. The Chandogya Upanishad 8.3.2 says:
अनृतापिधानाः ….एवं एवेमाः सर्वाः प्रजा अहरहर्गच्छन्त्य एतं ब्रह्मलोकं न विन्दन्त्यनृतेन हि प्रत्यूढाः ।
//As persons who are ignorant about treasures do not get the treasure of gold, even while walking over it again and again, so also all these creatures do not know Brahman although they reach daily (during sleep) this Brahman which is the Goal, because they are deflected by falsehood.//
This being ‘deflected by falsehood.’ is what is meant by संवृति in the Buddhist verse.
The Bhagavadgita too says this:
अज्ञानेनावृतं ज्ञानं तेन मुह्यन्ति जन्तवः 5.15
आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन …3.39
The next word in the verse is दुःख –
The BhagavadgitA teaches the method of cultivating dispassion to the worldly objects/people/events and resolve to realize the Truth:
इन्द्रियार्थेषु वैराग्यमनहङ्कार एव च।
Non-attachment with regard to objects of the senses, and also absence of egotism; seeing the evil in birth, death, old age, diseases and miseries.
[Incidentally two words, दुःख and दोष that are in the Buddhist verse are found in this Gita verse.]
ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दुःखयोनय एव ते।
आद्यन्तवन्तः कौन्तेय न तेषु रमते बुधः।।5.22।।
Since enjoyments that result from contact (with objects) are verily the sources of sorrow and have a beginning and an end, (therefore) O son of Kunti, the wise one does not delight in them.
अनित्यमसुखं लोकं इमं प्राप्य भजस्व माम् (9.33)
अन्तः – Every object, relationship and event in the world is subject to end at some or the other time. Even if one is not going to see the end of an object in his lifetime, he himself is liable to end, body-wise. When things that we love come to an end by death or separation we experience great misery. So, ending of anything that we love will cause misery. And no object in the world is created without the possibility of some or the other jiva loving it, being benefited by it.
अन्तवत्तु फलं तेषां तद्भवत्यल्पमेधसाम्।
देवान्देवयजो यान्ति मद्भक्ता यान्ति मामपि।।7.23।।
That result of theirs who are of poor intellect is indeed limited. The worshippers of gods go to the gods. My devotees go to Me alone.
The ‘Buddhistic’ verse says that the transmigratory life is fraught with this set of defects, दोषः. That is conveyed by the word ‘पूर्व’. Like we have the usage ‘दोषपूर्व’ which means ’दोषयुक्त’, the verse uses this expression ‘pUrva’ in conjunction with all the other defects enumerated above.
Such a defective transmigratory life can be put and end to by taking recourse to its adversary, विरोधि.
The second half of the ‘Buddhistic’ verse:
नित्यभावनया भातं तद्भावं योगिनं नयेत्
concerns itself with the yoga, the method, to be followed in putting an end to the transmigratory life ridden with so many ills. नित्यभावनया – by steadfast application of the entire personality to this one endeavor called ‘sadhana’, one will be rewarded with the vision of the Truth that was spoken of as the adversary, विरोधि, in the earlier half of the verse. This obtaining of the vision of the Truth is conveyed by the word ‘भातम्’ in the verse – नित्यभावनया भातं. In the concluding quarter the verse says: तद्भावं योगिनं नयेत् . That ‘bhAvam’ the existent Entity, the Truth, is the destination. This is the ‘virodhi’ of the ills of samsara. The vision had of the Truth by taking recourse to Yoga will itself take, lead, the yogi, the aspirant, to the destination.
The Bh.Gita, for instance has these teachings:
मद्भावं सोऽधिगच्छति 14.19
पूता मद्भावमागताः 4.10
मद्भक्त एतद्विज्ञाय मद्भावायोपपद्यते 13.18
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते 8.16
ब्रह्मभूयाय कल्पते 18.53
All the above passages mean the unity of the knower of Brahman with Brahman.
The Upanishad too teaches this unity:
ब्रह्म वेद ब्रह्मैव भवति Mundaka. 3.2.9
यथा नद्यः स्यन्दमानाः समुद्रेऽस्तं गच्छन्ति नामरूपे विहाय । तथा विद्वान् नामरूपाद्विमुक्तः परात्परं पुरुषमुपैति दिव्यम् ॥Mundakopanishat 3.2.8
ब्रह्मविदाप्रोति परम् (Tai.Up. 2.1.1)
The Brahmasutra too has this teaching: अविभागेन दृष्टत्वात् 4.4.4
Thus even the ‘aikyam’ message conveyed by the Buddhist verse is very well established in the Vedic Scripture.
The verse under consideration has for its subject matter –
- the enumeration of the evils of samsara
- The statement of an end to these evils
- The Yoga, the sadhana, required to attain the end-of-evils
- And the assurance that such a sadhana, properly accomplished, will certainly take one to the destination: the end to the evils.
The verse, as the other verses in the set of 8 quoted by Sri Madhvacharya, has nothing unique to Buddhism or Advaita. The entire purport of the verse is already available in the scriptural works of Sanatana dharma which has its basis in the Veda.
The posts, Part 1, 2 and 3, detailing the other (earlier) three verses can be accessed from the archives.