Posted by: adbhutam | March 25, 2012

nyAyAmRta – advaita siddhi workshop


Following the announcement I had made about the event, I attended the workshop yesterday.  It was a well-conducted and well-attended event.  There was a very active participation in the discussions from the host of Madhwa scholars of the young generation as well.  Dr. Mani Dravid SastrigaL who took the Advaita Siddhi class in two sessions was impressed by the kind of questions some of the scholars posed with a view to know about a few finer details of Advaita.  The topic of the day’s lesson-discussion was ‘pratikarmavyavasthA’, the explanation of Advaita to account for the perception of the objective world and the objections raised by the nyAyAmRta on this and the reply from the Advaita siddhi/commentaries to these objections.

Some highlights of the day:

Dr. Haridas Bhattacharya, while replying to a point made by the Advaita scholar remarked: the Advaitins hold the shruti passage: ‘tasya bhAsA sarvamidam vibhAti’ (Mundaka 2.2.10) to support their view that Brahman Consciousness alone is Jnanam and that it alone illumines the world.  The  nyAyAmRta points out: pl. see the earlier part of this very mantra: it says ‘na tatra sUryo bhAti na chandratArakam…’.  This shows that the luminous bodies the sun, moon, etc. depend on Brahman for their own effulgence.  So, the ‘sarvam idam’ of this mantra refers to ONLY those luminous bodies.  So, the Advaitins are not correct in holding this shruti for their support.

As Dr.Mani Dravid sastriNaH was not following this Kannada summary, I asked his reaction to this comment of the Dvaita scholar.  He immediately quoted (to me) the Bh.Gita 13.33 or 34 verse:  ‘ yathA prakAshayatyekaH kRtsnam lokamiam raviH. kshetram kshetrI tathaa kRtsnam prakAshayati bhArata’   and pointed out that the smRti has to be in tune with the shruti and this Gita verse clearly says that it is Brahman (the kshetrajna/kshetrI) that illumines the ENTIRE world, kShetram.  Therefore there is no room for ‘sankocha’ in the shruti passage too to restrict the application to just the luminous bodies.

One could see that Dr. Mani SastriNaH was able to quickly respond to the objections raised by the nyAyAmRta by pointing out several Advaitic texts/bhashyams, shruti/smRti, the nyAya / pUrva mImAmsA shAstra similarities etc. in favour of the Advaitic position.  There was one quote from the VivaraNa text cited by the author of the TarangiNi which Dr. Haridasa Bhatta pointed out.  Dr. Mani SastriNaH quickly responded saying that this line of the VivaraNam has a different purport altogether (and not the way the TarangiNi had understood it) as could be seen even in that very section of the VivaraNa where the VivaraNa Acharya clarifies it.

At the close of the event Dr. Haridasa Bhattacharya, a renowned teacher of NyAya at the Vidyapeetha and a specialist in nyAymRta summed up the day’s proceedings in Kannada.  Here are some important points that he made:

  • The nyAyAmRta objects to the Advaitic method of perception on the ground that it presupposes the existence of objects prior to perceptive knowledge arising, since only then there can be any contact between the instruments of perception and the objects and the vRtti vyApAra to bring about the perceptive knowledge. As such a pre-existence is inevitable why does Advaita not give up the idea of vyAvahArika status to the world and accept the world as satyam.  This objection is based on the Advaitic tenet that the world is a bhrama just as in the case of rope-snake: knowledge and existence of objects are coterminus and there are no objects when there is no knowledge of them.
  • The Advaitasiddhi’s reply is that there can be shown cases where objects can be deemed to exist even when their knowledge is not being had.  For example in the case of pratyabhijnA, recognition, one has seen an object before and when seeing it again later recognizes it as ‘this is that same pot…’.  In this case it is deemed that the pot existed even during the time that intervened the two perceptions, past and present. Thus, even when there is no knowledge of the objects, there is an ‘ajnAta sattA’ of objects.  With this case contradicting the Dvaitin’s objection, there is no strength in the objection.  And the corollary is that we can maintain a clear distinction between a bhrama and vyAvahArika.  In bhrama no doubt the imagined object exists only when its knowledge is had (imagined) and not before or after.  But in vyAvahArika, even though kalpita, on the analogy of the pratyabhijnA ajnAta sattA the case is clearly distinct from a bhrama. The distinction that brahmajnAna alone dispels the vyAvahArika and a non-brahmajnAna is sufficient to dispel the bhrama (rope-snake) instances is clearly brought out thereby.
  • Dr. Haridas Bhattacharya made an important remark: We are very fortunate that we have in Dr. Mani Dravid SastrigaL a very accomplished knower of the Advaita Shastra.  It is very important for us (dvaitins) that we get a clear/correct understanding of Advaita as that alone will enable us to correctly understand the nyAyAmRta work/s.
  • Another important point made by him was: Advaita has a strong inbuilt reason-based method to establish itself on firm grounds.  It cannot be simply pooh-poohed away. 

One should have been present in the assembly to enjoy the way the Dvaita scholars participated with great enthusiasm in the deliberations.  One such scholar, Vidwan Ruchira Acharya, told Dr. Mani SastriNaH at the end: ‘it was a real ‘Ananda’ experience for we were oblivious of the external world throughout the discussions.’  [Actually the entire discussion centered on the method involved in way the world was being perceived : ) ]

Everyone expressed and felt too that such events should be a regular feature at the VidyApeetha.

Om Tat Sat

This year’s workshop on the above topic will be conducted at the Purnaprajna Vidyapeetha premises at the auditorium of the Samshodhana Mandiram, Bangalore.  Dr. Mani Dravid Sastrigal will be taking the Advaitasiddhi class on Saturday, the 24th March 2012.  Dr.Hayavadana Puranik, Dr.Haridas Bhattacharya and Dr.D.Prahladachar will be conducting the NyAyAmRta classes.  The workshop commences at 9.00AM and there will be an afternoon session too.



  1. Thanks a lot for sharing the gist of the deliberations of the august Conference/Assembly, so meticulously compiled by you.
    Ved Prakash

    • Nice to know that you liked the report.


  2. Namaste

    Thanks for succinctly  summarising the proceedings of the nyaayaamrutha-advaithasiddhi workshop at PPVP,Bangalore on 25th March,2012.There are couple of points of Sri Haridasa bhatta acharya which needs elaboration. I had a discussion with sri Acharya on this.

    In Mundaka 2.2.10, the purport of the sloka is that the Sun, Moon, Stars and Fire does not illuminate the Brahman. On the contrary, the Brahman illumines these bodies. The same can be seen in verbatim in BG 15.12 which goes as:” yadAdityagatam tejo jagadbhAsayate.akhilam, yacchandramasi yacchAgnau tattejo viddi mAmakam”. In addition, BG  15.06 says, na tad bhAsayate  sUryo na shashAnko na pAvakah, which means, the Brahman is not illuminated by the luminous bodies viz sun, moon, stars and fire.
    If one looks at these two slokas of BG 15th chapter, it is clear that the meaning of mundaka 2.2.10 is narated by these two. Therefore in the verse “tasya bhAsa sarvamidam vibhAti”, the “sarvam” refers to the ‘dependent’ luminous bodies viz. Sun ityAdi.

    Again, in Mundaka 2.2.10 itself, the second part of the sloka goes as : “tam eva bhAntam anubhAti sarvam”, which means,”they all radiate only by following an effulgent Brahman””. Here, it must  be noted that both the brahman and the luminously bodies share a common property -“bhAti”.This is clear from a sentence like, “gacchantam anugacchati” – where in, a person follows another who is also walking, the common property being ” in motion”. Therefore, “sarvam” must be referred to the luminous bodies only and not extrapolated to mean non luminous bodies. Hence, the meaning of BG 13.34 is not relevant here.

    • Namaste.
      Thank you Shri Rajendra for your response to my blog post.

      In the Mundaka mantra 2.2.10 we have in the third line: tameva bhAntam anubhAti sarvam. In the fourth line we have: tasya bhAsA sarvam idam vibhAti. There is no real difference in meaning when we look at the two lines together. In fact there is a punarukti in the second line: it simply says by the Light of Brahman all this shines, which is what the third line too says: the ‘sarvam’ shines after/from/following the shine of Brahman. Why should the upanishad be repeating the same theme in the two lines? Only when the last line means by ‘idam sarvam’ the entire universe is there a defect-free treatment of the mantra on the whole.

      In fact the BG 15.12 //” yadAdityagatam tejo jagadbhAsayate.akhilam, yacchandramasi yacchAgnau tattejo viddi mAmakam”// is in tune with the above meaning coming from the mantra. The words ‘akhilam jagat’ that the sun illumines, which illumination, in turn it gets from Brahman, fits the Mundaka mantra. After all, Brahman does not illumine the objects of the world, as light, by itself; it does it through these luminous bodies. [Even as the Kathopanishad mantra says ‘na prANena nApAnena martyo jIvati kashchana. itareNaiva tu jIvanti…’ where the prANa, etc. enliven the people only by the power drawn from Brahman.] So, the BG 15.12 which teaches the sun shining the entire world by itself being illumined by the Brahman-shine just as the Mundaka mantra teaches that the entire world is illumined by the luminous bodies which draw their luminosity from Brahman. BG 15.06 is not disputed. It only teaches that none of the luminous bodies of the created world can illumine Brahman. Advaitins have no dispute on this. In fact only inert bodies can be illumined by the luminous created bodies. Brahman is never an object that can be illumined by these worldly luminous bodies.

      Now, coming to BG 13.34 we have the Lord saying that the Kshetrajna, Brahman, illumines, prakAshayati, the kRtsnam jagat. It does not do the sankocha by taking just the luminous bodies. It gives the example of the Sun. Just as the BG 15.12 which says: the Adityagatam tejas illumines the ‘akhilam jagat’, BG 13.34 too says, in the dRshTAnta, the Ravi shines the kRtsnam imam lokam. And it says that just as ravi is EkaH, the kShetrI is ekaH (by implication) and illumines the kRtsnam kShetram.

      The reason for the Advaitins citing the Mundaka mantra is only in support of their dRk-dRshya (prakAshya-prakAshaka) vibhAga in the shruti. This same prayojanam is derived from the smRti: BG 13.34 where too the dRk-dRshya vibhAga is clear. There is one dRk, the kShetrI and the nAnAtvalakShita kShetram the dRshya. The dRk is chaitanya svarUpa and the dRshya is jaDa. The Mundaka mantra too serves this very purpose. The Tat there is one, chaitanya svarUpa and the idam sarvam, including the sun, moon, etc. is jaDam only. Also, there is a kaimutika nyAya in the Mundaka mantra. When even the most luminous bodies in creation namely the sun, moon, etc. have to depend upon the Brahma chaitanya for their shine, what to say of the other objects in creation? This is brought out in the fourth line by the words ‘idam sarvam’. The word ‘idam’ denotes ‘idantvena paridRshyamAnasarvam jagat’. Brahman can never be (become) idam; it is never an object. So too the kShetrI is never an object; he/it is always experienced/realized as ‘viShayI’, ‘aham’ alone and never as ‘idam’. Only the kShetram is ever the ‘viShaya’, idam and never the viShayI.

      To reiterate, the Advaitin’s purpose in citing the Mundaka and the Gita verse is to show that the dRk-dRshya vibhAga is enshrined in the scripture. Just as you felt the 13.34 is not relevant from your point of view of the Mundaka mantra, one can also say that the BG 15.06 is not relevant in the Advaitin’s view of the Mundaka and BG 13.34. Of course, there is no harm either from BG 15.06; it only reinforces the fact that the prakAshya/bhAsya cannot illumine the prakAshaka/Bhaasaka.

      If it is questioned: why does the Mundaka talk only of four entities if its intent is in ‘idam sarvam jagat’? The reply would be, apart from the kaimutika nyAya pointed out above, that these four are only upalakShaNa-s for the kRtsnam jagat and that too the best samples, being as they are luminous bodies in creation.

      I thank you once again for your interest.

      Warm regards.

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