Posted by: adbhutam | February 15, 2017


Mīra Bai’s reply to Jayatīrtha


In the following link, a remark by Sri Jayatirtha, the famous commentator of Madhvacharya, is cited:

//तथात्वे विषमपि पीयूषतया अवगतं तदर्थक्रियां कुर्यात्

This is said in a different context. His point is this – would poison, which is mistaken to be amrita, produce the effect as amrita?!

According to the non-realist, the knowledge of that poison produces the effect. Here, it is mistaken to be amruta. Will the effect produced be that of mistaken knowledge, or of the vastu (i.e. poison)?? The answer is obvious.//


A response to the above:


The above remark of Jayatirtha is obviously in reply to the Advaitin’s view of the topic: an erroneous object, which is present only as a knowledge, pratīti, produces a result/effect.

It would be beneficial to consider an instance from Saint Mīra Bai’s life as recorded in a book on her life:

The Story of Mira Bai:


On page 42:

The Rāṇa then tried another trick. This time he sent her  a cup of poison, saying it was nectar. Mīra after performing her prayers, raised it to her lips and quaffed the deadly liquid, which was really transformed to nectar.  She has described these incidents in her life in the following beautiful song:

Rana made a present of a basket of serpents.

Mira performed her ablutions and put her hands in it.

Lo! It was turned into an image of the Lord.

Rana sent a poisoned cup; having performed her prayers

Mira drank of it. It had changed into nectar.

Rana sent a bed of nails for Mira to sleep on.

Evening fell and Mira slept on it.

Lo! It had transformed into a bed of roses.


जहर्को प्यालो राणा भेज्यो,

अमरित दियो बणाय ।

न्हाय धोय जळ पीवण लागी,

अमर हो गई जाय ॥ २ ॥


Here we have an instance of unsuspecting consumption of poison as nectar and the resultant non-action of the poison.

We have another instance recounted by the Jagadguru of Sringeri Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Swaminaḥ:

Excerpted from the book ‘Divine Discourses’ published by Sri Vidyatirtha Foundation, p.49:

//Some years ago a huge sabhā was organized well at Paramahamsi Gangā Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, by Swami Swaroopananda Saraswati, who is close to Me. Between 10,000 and 20,000 people attended. One speaker narrated the following story:

There was a Sadhu who was a great devotee of God. He never took food without first offering it to the Lord. One day the item he had kept for offering got contaminated by snake venom. Unaware of this, he offered it to God. Subsequently, he ate the food and went to sleep. He woke up in the morning quite healthy. However, he found that the image of God that he worshiped had fallen to the ground. What had happened was that when God ate the food, it became pure. So, the devotee was left unaffected. It was Lord’s idol that suffered the consequences.//

Here is an instance from the Mahabharata where Bhīma was poisoned by Duryodhana:

//Meanwhile the wicked Duryodhana had mixed a powerful poison with a quantity of food, with the object of making away with Bhima. That wicked youth who had nectar in his tongue and a razor in his heart, rose at length, and in a friendly way fed Bhima largely with that poisoned food, and thinking himself lucky in having compassed his end, was exceedingly glad at heart. Then the sons of Dhritarashtra and Pandu together became cheerfully engaged in sporting in the water. Their sport having been finished, they dressed themselves in white habiliments, and decked themselves with various ornaments. Fatigued with play, they felt inclined in the evening to rest in the pleasure house belonging to the garden. Having made the other youths take exercise in the waters, the powerful second Pandava was excessively fatigued. So that on rising from the water, he lay down on the ground. He was weary and under the influence of the poison. And the cool air served to spread the poison over all his frame, so that he lost his senses at once. Seeing this Duryodhana bound him with chords of shrubs, and threw him into the water. The insensible son of Pandu sank down till he reached the Naga kingdom. Nagas, furnished with fangs containing virulent venom, bit him by thousands. The vegetable poison, mingled in the blood of the son of the Wind god, was neutralised by the snake-poison. The serpents had bitten all over his frame, except his chest, the skin of which was so tough that their fangs could not penetrate it.

“On regaining consciousness, the son of Kunti burst his bands and began to press the snakes down under the ground. A remnant fled for life, and going to their king Vasuki, represented, ‘O king of snakes, a man drowned under the water, bound in chords of shrubs; probably he had drunk poison. For when he fell amongst us, he was insensible. But when we began to bite him, he regained his senses, and bursting his fetters, commenced laying at us.’’ //

In the above incident too the poison was imbibed with no knowledge of it but ultimately it did not take the intended effect. There could be reasons for this, like fortuitous circumstances, but the fact remains that poison taken without the knowledge thereof can result in its failure to act.

// ‘Then Bhima, endued with great strength and prowess, related to his brothers everything about the villainy of Duryodhana, and the lucky and unlucky incidents that had befallen him in the world of the Serpents. //

The Mahabharata continues to relate another instance where Bhima was poisoned:

“Some time after, Duryodhana again mixed in the food of Bhima a poison that was fresh, virulent, and very deadly. But Yuyutsu (Dhritarashtra’s son by a Vaisya wife), moved by his friendship for the Pandavas, informed them of this. Vrikodara, however, swallowed it without any hesitation, and digested it completely. And, though virulent the poison produced no effects on Bhima.//

In this instance even though the poison was consumed with full knowledge, yet it did not take effect. All this shows that bhrama or no bhrama, other conditions too are at play in determining the cause-effect phenomenon.

There is a hypothetical situation described in the Panchadaśī  (chapter 4: Dvaita viveka) by Swami Vidyāraṇya (a contemporary of Sri Jayatirtha):

दूरदेशं गते पुत्रे जीवत्येवात्र तत्पिता । विप्रलम्भकवाक्येन मृतं मत्वा प्ररोदिति ॥३३॥

मृतेऽपि तस्मिन्वार्तायामश्रुतायां न रोदिति । अतः सर्वस्य जीवस्य बन्धकृन्मानसं जगत् ॥३४॥

  1. A liar told a man whose son had gone to a far-off country that the boy was dead, although he was still alive. The father believed him and was aggrieved.
    35. If, on the other hand, his son had really died abroad but no news had reached him, he would have felt no grief. This shows that the real cause of a man’s bondage is his own mental world.

Actually the Advaitin has not claimed that every instance of a bhrama, error, gives rise to an effect. All that is said is that there is the sambhava, possibility, of an effect thereof.

Brahmasūtra bhāṣya 2.1.14:

…शङ्काविषादिनिमित्तमरणादिकार्योपलब्धेः, स्वप्नदर्शनावस्थस्य च सर्पदंशनोदकस्नानादिकार्यदर्शनात्

The words ‘upalabdheḥ’ and ‘darśanāt’ are the ones that make it clear that the Advaitin is not making a  claim of a rule. What he is, however, showing is that there is seen an exception to a rule.

[..since the effect such as death owing to a suspected poisoning is available. Also for a person upon waking from a dream the experience of the snakebite, bath, etc. had in the dream, is observed.]

The gloss ‘Bhāṣyaratnaprabhā’ explains:

अङ्गीकृत्यापि दृष्टान्तमाह – नैष दोष इति  सर्पेणादष्टस्यापि दष्टत्वभ्रान्तिकल्पितविषात्सत्यमरणमूर्च्छादिदर्शनादसत्यात्सत्यं न जायत इत्यनियम इत्यर्थः । दृष्टान्तान्तरमाह – स्वप्नेति  असत्यात्सर्पोदरादेः सत्यस्य दंशनस्नानादिज्ञानस्य कार्यस्य दर्शनाद्व्यभिचार इत्यर्थः ।

The examples provided in the bhāṣya are there to show that – there is no rule that an unreal (cause) does not produce a real (effect). The words ‘aniyamaḥ’ and ‘vyabhichāraḥ’ (in the above gloss) show that the bhāṣya does not make a claim that ‘every bhrama results in some effect’; on the contrary the bhāṣya is only showing the sambhāvanā, possibility of such a situation.

Real life does provide proof of such instances:

//Workers panicked after they heard that a colleague had found a lizard’s tail in his breakfast plate in a private industry in the Naubad industrial area here on Thursday.

As the news spread, around 30 workers vomited thinking that they too might have consumed “poison”.

“They were all admitted to hospital and discharged in a few hours. They are all healthy and fit and will soon return to work,” factory manager Rajesh Rao said.

A team of Health Department officers visited the unit and gave tips on handling such situations, District Health and Family Welfare Officer Baburao Hudgikar said.//

Suppose a man is in a car moving at a reasonably good speed on a ghāṭ section during an afternoon. On the sidelines, near a thick growth he sees a stationary snake which is actually only a visible root of a tree that is in that spot. Now, this bhrama that he had did not cause any trepidation in him since there is no way he is going to be in the range of the imagined snake.  That there was no bhrama nivṛtti is outside the incident; he would never come to realize that it was only a bhrama. The situation does not warrant any such nervousness.

We also come across instances where a man wanting to kill himself along with his family gives his family food or drink laced with pesticide or some other poison and also himself consumes it. The outcome of this suicide bid could be that not all people die; some survive. Of those who survive there could very well be those who consumed that food without suspecting poison. They have actually imbibed it innocently.  Cases as these also, apart from the Mira Bai instance, amount to vyabhichāra, exception, to the niyama suggested by Sri Jayatirtha.

Thus there is no rule that every bhrama brings about an effect, either positive or negative.

Hence there was no need for the remark by Sri Jayatirtha.


Om Tat Sat












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