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.