Posted by: adbhutam | October 26, 2020

How Vedanta is not Shunyavada – in Shankara’s own words

In the commentary to the Bh.Gita 2.16, a seminal verse that condenses the entire Vedanta Siddhanta, Shankara brings out the Sat kaarana vaada where the kaarya, effect, is non-different from the kaaranam Sat. Since the karyam does not exist without the kaaranam, the kaaryam, effectively, does not exist as kaaryam.  What is existent, though, in the kaaryam, is the kaaraNam alone.  Since the kaaryam keeps changing, it does not have the status of the unchanging kaaraNam. What is changing, thus, having no real existence, being of drishta nashta svarupa (it is seen now and not seen later), it cannot be said to be existent. The verse says that which is asat does not have existence, Sattaa, And that which is Sat, never goes out of existence. 
Shankara raises the question: Since the kaaryam, which is what is experienced by us perceptively everywhere, is asat, do we not end up in sarva abhaava, shunya? He replies in the negative and goes on to prove the negation by asserting that in every perception there are two segments: 1. the sat segment and 2. the asat segment. In the perception ‘the jar is’ the jar part is the asat segment and the ‘is’ part is the sat segment. In each perception involving different objects such as jar, cloth and elephant, the asat segment constitutes the objects jar, cloth, etc. and the Sat segment is the ‘is’, exists, segment that does not change from perception to perception.  It is obvious that the same object segment does not continue in each perception. When the cloth perception is subsequent to the jar perception, the jar segment is no longer there, it has been replaced by the cloth, but the ‘is’ segment never  ceases to continue.  This unchanging segment represents Brahman, Sat and the changing segment represents asat, anatman.  This knowledge, of the unchanging Brahman and the changing, non-inhereing a-brahman constitutes the liberating knowledge.  This is the essence of the verse.2.16/      

न असतः अविद्यमानस्य शीतोष्णादेः सकारणस्य न विद्यते नास्ति भावो भवनम् अस्तिता ॥न हि शीतोष्णादि सकारणं प्रमाणैर्निरूप्यमाणं वस्तुसद्भवति । विकारो हि सः, विकारश्च व्यभिचरति । यथा घटादिसंस्थानं चक्षुषा निरूप्यमाणं मृद्व्यतिरेकेणानुपलब्धेरसत् , तथा सर्वो विकारः कारणव्यतिरेकेणानुपलब्धेरसन् । जन्मप्रध्वंसाभ्यां प्रागूर्ध्वं च अनुपलब्धेः कार्यस्य घटादेः मृदादिकारणस्य च तत्कारणव्यतिरेकेणानुपलब्धेरसत्त्वम् ॥तदसत्त्वे सर्वाभावप्रसङ्ग इति चेत् , न ; सर्वत्र बुद्धिद्वयोपलब्धेः, सद्बुद्धिरसद्बुद्धिरिति । यद्विषया बुद्धिर्न व्यभिचरति, तत् सत् ; यद्विषया व्यभिचरति, तदसत् ; इति सदसद्विभागे बुद्धितन्त्रे स्थिते, सर्वत्र द्वे बुद्धी सर्वैरुपलभ्येते समानाधिकरणे न नीलोत्पलवत् , सन् घटः, सन् पटः, सन् हस्ती इति । एवं सर्वत्र तयोर्बुद्ध्योः घटादिबुद्धिः व्यभिचरति । तथा च दर्शितम् । न तु सद्बुद्धिः । तस्मात् घटादिबुद्धिविषयः असन् , व्यभिचारात् ; न तु सद्बुद्धिविषयः, अव्यभिचारात् ॥

Om Tat Sat


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