A view of the Advaita Vedanta in a capsule or compressed form
With a view to help one remember well and recall with ease the essential message of the Vedanta a digest is given below.
The two main categories are stated as ‘dṛk’, the seer/observer, and ‘dṛśya’, the seen/observed. Several, if not all, of those entities, terms, used to denote these two, that are found in the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita and other Advaitic works are shown under these two categories, to enable a quick appreciation of the Vedantic doctrine.
- DṚK is the sentient entity, and DṚŚYA is the insentient entity. Each of the following twin-terms are to be related to the twin terms: dṛk – dṛśya and will be shown in the same hyphen format:
- Viṣayī – viṣaya , Asmat – yuṣmat, Prakāśa – tamas [adhyāsa bhāṣya]
- Turīya (chaturtha pāda) – pādatrayam (jāgrat, svapna and suṣupti) [Māṇḍukya up.]
- Kṣetrajña – kṣetra [BG 13th], Puruṣottama – kṣara and akṣara [BG 15th ch.]
- Parā prakṛti – aparā prakṛti [BG 7th]
[In the BG 7.5 bhāṣya, Shankara says: इतः अस्याः यथोक्तायाः तु अन्यां विशुद्धां प्रकृतिं मम आत्मभूतां विद्धि मे परां प्रकृष्टां जीवभूतां क्षेत्रज्ञलक्षणां प्राणधारणनिमित्तभूतां हे महाबाहो, यया प्रकृत्या इदं धार्यते जगत् अन्तः प्रविष्टया ॥
In the 13.2 bhāṣya too Shankara strikes a relationship between the 7th ch. and the 13th ch.: सप्तमे अध्याये सूचिते द्वे प्रकृती ईश्वरस्य — त्रिगुणात्मिका अष्टधा भिन्ना अपरा, संसारहेतुत्वात्; परा च अन्या जीवभूता क्षेत्रज्ञलक्षणा ईश्वरात्मिका…
Shankara has said that the aparā prakṛti of the 7th ch. that is none other than kṣetrajña, is Iśvarātmikā, that is none other than Brahman. Hence alone it is non-different from dṛk and therefore Turiya. In the 13.2 the identity between the kṣetrajña and Brahman is well established.
In the Gūḍārthadīpikā (commentary on the Bh.gita) for the BG 7.5 by Sri Madhusudana Saraswati, the famous Chāndogya Up. passage is cited:
अनेन जीवेनात्मना अनुप्रविश्य नामरूपे व्याकरवाणि [6.3.2 ] ’(Brahman) entered the body (ies) as the jīvātmā and manifested the names and forms of objects in creation.’ :
हे महाबाहो यया क्षेत्रज्ञलक्षणया जीवभूतयाऽन्तरनुप्रविष्टया प्रकृत्येदं जगदचेतनजातं भाव्यते स्वतो विशीर्य उत्तभ्यते अनेन जीवेनात्मनानुप्रविश्य नामरूपे व्याकरवाणि इति श्रुतेः।
That shows that the one who is in the form of the jīva is not any other than Brahman. He is the bhoktā and the entire aparā prakṛti is the bhojyam.
- Hence we get another pair: bhoktā – bhojyam.
In the work ‘Vāsudevamananam’ of Sri Vāsudeva Yati, in the fifth chapter, it is stated:
तथा – ’एतमेव सीमानं विदार्यैतय् द्वारा प्रापद्यत’, ’तत्सृष्ट्वा तदेवानु प्राविशत्’, अनेन जीवेनात्मना अनुप्रविश्य नामरूपे व्याकरवाणि’ – इत्याद्याः श्रुतयः ब्रह्मण एव जीवरूपेण प्रवेशं ब्रुवन्त्यः, बहिःस्थितस्य गृहं प्रविष्टस्य देवदत्तस्येव, वीवब्रह्मणोरभेदं महावाक्यार्थं सम्भावयन्ति ।
[The Aitareya Upaniṣad 1.3.12 says that Brahman alone entered the body of the jīva through the aperture on the crown. The Taittiriya Up. says: Brahman created the universe and entered the created bodies. The Chandogya Upanishad says that Brahman alone entered the bodies as the jīva and manifested the name-form universe. The passages teach that Brahman alone, as jīva, has entered the bodies and enlivens it. It is similar to a person standing outside, subsequently enters a house. The one who was outside alone is now inside; there are no two entities. These passages make the Mahāvākyas’ message of identity of the jīva and Brahman possible.]
That the body, and by extension, the entire kṣetram, is dṛśya, the experienced, observed, (see verses 13.5 and 6 where the entire gamut of the observed world, including the experiences, is grouped as ‘kṣetram’) is stated by Anandagiri in the 13.1 gloss:
तत्र द्रष्टृत्वेन संघातदृश्यादन्यमात्मानं निर्दिशति — इदमिति। उक्तं प्रत्यक्षदृश्यविशिष्टं किंचिदिति शेषः।
He says that the body, a conglomerate of the gross and the subtle organs, is the dṛśya, seen, and the Ātmā is the drṣṭā, seer.
Madhusudana Saraswati, in the commentary to the BG 13.6. where the entire ‘kṣetram’ is enumerated in a capsule form, says:
एतत्परिदृश्यमानं सर्वं महाभूतादिधृत्यन्तं जडं क्षेत्रज्ञेन साक्षिणावभास्यमानत्वात्तदनात्मकं क्षेत्रं भास्यमचेतनं समासेनोदाहृतमुक्तम्।
He says, the entire seen objective world, comprising of the tattvas from mahābhūta to dhṛti, is inert, kṣetram, revealed by the sākśī and therefore anātmā. This encompasses the whole experienced universe as one unit of which the one conscious entity is the observer.
From this we understand that the parā prakṛti, also called jīva and kṣetrajña, is actually the witness to the entire aparā prakṛti, kṣetra and sākṣya, dṛśya.
This takes us to the other pair: dṛk and dṛśya. Madusudana gives another important input to this analysis in the commentary to the BG 13.1:
अत्र चाभिधीयत इति कर्मणिप्रयोगेण क्षेत्रस्य जडत्वात्कर्मत्वं क्षेत्रज्ञशब्दस्य द्वितीयां विनैवेतिशब्दमाहरन् स्वप्रकाशत्वात्कर्मत्वाभावमभिप्रैति।
The word ‘kṣetrajña’ is distinct from the ‘kṣetra’. The distinction is in the fact that the former is sentient, self-luminous, and the latter is inert and requires to be illumined by an entity other than itself. Thus, the knower-consciousness is never in the category of an object, karmatva abhāvaḥ. [‘karma’ in this sense is the objective case, dvitīyā vibhakti.]
- The BG 15th chapter has these two groups: Puruṣottama and kṣara –akṣara combined. The Puruṣottama is none other than the supreme, transcendental Truth, the Turiya. The kṣara is the entire manifest world that is subject to birth/creation and death/dissolution. The akṣara, the unmanifest, is the seed of this manifest world. This is akin to the pāda-traya consisting of the waking, dream and sleep states of the Mandukya Upanishad.
Thus, we have several pairs to denote the dṛk – dṛṣya [observer – observed] concept. One can add to the above list, which is not exhaustive, other pairs too that may be available across the scriptures.
Om Tat Sat