Posted by: adbhutam | July 29, 2017

THE WORLD IS MIND ALONE: SHANKARACHARYA

The World is mind alone: Shankara
In the Mundakopanishad 2.1 is this mantra:

अग्निर्मूर्धा चक्षुषी चन्द्रसूर्यौ दिशः श्रोत्रे वाग्विवृताश्च वेदाः ।
वायुः प्राणो हृदयं विश्वमस्य पद्भ्यां पृथिवी ह्येष सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा ॥ ४ ॥

4 The heavens are His head; the sun and moon, His eyes; the quarters, His ears; the revealed Vedas, His speech; the wind is His breath; the universe, His heart. From his feet is produced the earth. He is, indeed, the inner self of all beings (pancha bhūta-s).

While explaining the part hṛdayam viśvam asya (the world is his ‘heart’), Shankara says:

हृदयम् अन्तःकरणं विश्वं समस्तं जगत् अस्य यस्येत्येतत् । सर्वं ह्यन्तःकरणविकारमेव जगत् , मनस्येव सुषुप्ते प्रलयदर्शनात् ; जागरितेऽपि तत एवाग्निविस्फुलिङ्गवद्विप्रतिष्ठानात् ।

//His hṛdayam = antaḥkaraṇam (inner organ, mind) , viśvam = the entire universe. For, the entire world is a modification of the mind, inasmuch as it is seen to merge in the mind during deep sleep, and even during the waking state it is seen to emerge out of it, like sparks out of fire, to exist.//

The important points to be noted in the above bhāṣyam are:

  1. The mantra is about the cosmic person
  2. It is an imagery where the cosmos is spoken of as various body-parts of this person
  3. The mind of this person is said to be the universe in the mantra
  4. Shankara alludes the human experience to make this point no.3
  5. He says that the world is a vikāra, modification, of the mind
  6. The reason he gives is: since it is seen, experienced, to merge in the mind during deep sleep.
  7. It is a norm in Vedanta that the layasthānam is the upādāna kāraṇam, for example, the pot, a product of clay, returns to clay when destroyed and hence is the material cause
  8. vikāra in the context of creation in Vedanta is vivarta
  9. It is on this basis the utpatti, sthiti and laya of the universe are taught to be Brahman
  10. The world emerges from the mind, upon waking
  11. The emerging of the multifarious world is akin to sparks flying out of a burning fire
  12. Incidentally this analogy of ‘sparks flying out of fire’ used in creation shruti in the Br.up. and the Mundaka itself, is regarded as an instance of the shruti admitting yugapat sṛṣṭi (simultaneous creation) as different from ‘krama sṛṣṭi’, sequential creation, as for example in ‘akāśāt vāyuḥ…’ of the Taittiriya upanishad.

It is evident that the above is an instance of jiva, who is antaḥkaraṇāvacchinnam chaitanyam (consciousness delimited by the mind), being the cause of the experienced world. In the Mandukya kārikā 2.32 bhāṣya Shankara says:

न हि मनोविकल्पनाया रज्जुसर्पादिलक्षणाया रज्ज्वां प्रलय उत्पत्तिर्वा ; न च मनसि रज्जुसर्पस्योत्पत्तिः प्रलयो वा, न चोभयतो वा । तथा मानसत्वाविशेषाद्द्वैतस्य । न हि नियते मनसि सुषुप्ते वा द्वैतं गृह्यते ; अतो मनोविकल्पनामात्रं द्वैतमिति सिद्धम् ।

// There is no origination and destruction of the rope-snake (which is just a mental concoction) in the rope. Nor is there its origination and destruction in the mind. Even so, dvaita (dvaita prapancha) is non-different from the mind. For, in the mind controlled (by meditation) or during deep sleep one does not experience dvaita (dvaita prapancha). Therefore it stands established that dvaita (dvaita prapancha) is only a mental concoction.

This mandukya bhāṣya is subsumed by the mundaka bhashya where Shankara gives the deep sleep, when the mind is dissolved, as the layasthānam of the world, prapancha, jagat. Gaudapāda and Shankara offer reiteration of the above idea in 3.31 with the help of a syllogism:

मनोदृश्यमिदं द्वैतं यत्किञ्चित्सचराचरम् ।
मनसो ह्यमनीभावे द्वैतं नैवोपलभ्यते ॥ ३१ ॥

रज्जुसर्पवद्विकल्पनारूपं द्वैतरूपेण मन एवेत्युक्तम् । तत्र किं प्रमाणमिति, अन्वयव्यतिरेकलक्षणमनुमानमाह । कथम् ? तेन हि मनसा विकल्प्यमानेन दृश्यं मनोदृश्यम् इदं द्वैतं सर्वं मन इति प्रतिज्ञा, तद्भावे भावात् तदभावे चाभावात् । मनसो हि अमनीभावे निरुद्धे विवेकदर्शनाभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां रज्ज्वामिव सर्पे लयं गते वा सुषुप्ते द्वैतं नैवोपलभ्यत इति अभावात्सिद्धं द्वैतस्यासत्त्वमित्यर्थः ॥

It has been stated that the mind alone takes the form of the concocted dvaita just as the rope-snake is concocted. What is the basis, pramāṇa, for this? It is the anumāna, inference, of the form of anvaya-vyatireka. How? The pratijñā, claim is: the entire dvaitam is experienced as a concoction of the mind and therefore dvaitam is mind. Since in the presence of the mind, dvaitam is present and in the absence of the mind, dvaitam is absent. When the mind has been controlled by effort (in meditation) owing to discrimination and practice, just as the imagined snake merges in the rope, or during deep sleep, dvaitam is never experienced. Thus, by its absence (during meditation and deep sleep), the non-existence, asattvam, of dvaitam is established.

In the Brahmasutra bhashya commentary, the Ratnaprabhā summarizes the Vedānta siddhānta thus: सृष्टिर्दर्शनमदर्शनं लयः = perception is creation, and non-perception is destruction.

The Mundaka and the Mandukya bhāṣyam cited above demonstrate this siddhānta eminently.

Om Tat Sat

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