Posted by: adbhutam | February 22, 2021

Can the ‘real’ pose an obstacle in knowing the Real?

In the Upanishads an ‘Adhyatma Yoga’ is taught to get the direct realization of Brahman: 

तं दुर्दर्शं गूढमनुप्रविष्टं गुहाहितं गह्वरेष्ठं पुराणम् ।
अध्यात्मयोगाधिगमेन देवं मत्वा धीरो हर्षशोकौ जहाति ॥ १२ ॥  Kathopanishat.1.2.12
That which is seated secretly in the cave of our intellect, is to be known through the adhyatma yoga and become liberated. 
The method of this Yoga is also taught there:

यच्छेद्वाङ्मनसी प्राज्ञस्तद्यच्छेज्ज्ञान आत्मनि ।
ज्ञानमात्मनि महति नियच्छेत्तद्यच्छेच्छान्त आत्मनि ॥ १३ ॥  1.3.13
The sense/motor organs have to be resolved in the manas, this in turn in the buddhi, this to be merged in the Hiranyagarbha tattva and that in the Pure Consciousness, the Truth. 
However, this is not an easy thing to achieve, says this Upanishad:

पराञ्चि खानि व्यतृणत्स्वयम्भूस्तस्मात्पराङ् पश्यति नान्तरात्मन् ।
कश्चिद्धीरः प्रत्यगात्मानमैक्षदावृत्तचक्षुरमृतत्वमिच्छन् ॥ १ ॥ 2.4.1
The Creator has damned the sense/motor organs to be outward turned.  Hence one is always busy with the outside world and does not get to know his true nature. Some rare one, determined to achieve the goal, puts all efforts to restrain his outward turned nature and directs the power to realize the Truth. And succeeds.  

That the world is not to be contacted during this exercise is taught in the Bh.Gita: 

स्पर्शान्कृत्वा बहिर्बाह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरे भ्रुवोः ।
प्राणापानौ समौ कृत्वा नासाभ्यन्तरचारिणौ ॥ २७ ॥  5.27
The sound, touch, etc. world perception is to be given up and one is to be inward turned. 

शनैः शनैरुपरमेद्बुद्ध्या धृतिगृहीतया ।
आत्मसंस्थं मनः कृत्वा न किञ्चिदपि चिन्तयेत् ॥ २५ ॥ 6.25
The mind is to be resolved in the Atman and nothing else is to be thought of.
Thus, for a direct realization of the Truth, the world-perception is taught to be an obstacle.  

The question arises: Brahman is the Real entity. If the world too is admitted to be real, how and why does a real be an obstacle to realize the Real? It is clear that a real world is a contradiction to the knowledge of the Real Brahman. 

The remedy/answer is: The inevitable division, categorization, of real into two different ones: One is primarily real and the other, secondarily. With the help of various adjectives one will have to say: eternal real and fleeting real,  independent real and dependent real, Immutable and the mutable real, etc. The terminology in Advaita for this is: Paramarthika and Vyavaharika satya (mithya). This is the only way to get over the problem of real being an obstacle for realizing the real.   
There is no way other than admitting a two-fold Real for all schools. Shankara has stated this in the Brihadaranyaka Bhashya 3.5.1:

नामरूपोपाधिदृष्टिरेव च भवति स्वाभाविकी, तदा सर्वोऽयं वस्त्वन्तरास्तित्वव्यवहारः । अस्ति चायं भेदकृतो मिथ्याव्यवहारः, येषां ब्रह्मतत्त्वादन्यत्वेन वस्तु विद्यते, येषां च नास्ति ; परमार्थवादिभिस्तु श्रुत्यनुसारेण निरूप्यमाणे वस्तुनि — किं तत्त्वतोऽस्ति वस्तु किं वा नास्तीति, ब्रह्मैकमेवाद्वितीयं सर्वसंव्यवहारशून्यमिति निर्धार्यते ; तेन न कश्चिद्विरोधः । न हि परमार्थावधारणनिष्ठायां वस्त्वन्तरास्तित्वं प्रतिपद्यामहे — ‘एकमेवाद्वितीयम्’ (छा. उ. ६ । २ । १) ‘अनन्तरमबाह्यम्’ (बृ. उ. २ । ५ । १९), (बृ. उ. ३ । ८ । ८) इति श्रुतेः ; न च नामरूपव्यवहारकाले तु अविवेकिनां क्रियाकारकफलादिसंव्यवहारो नास्तीति प्रतिषिध्यते । तस्मात् ज्ञानाज्ञाने अपेक्ष्य सर्वः संव्यवहारः शास्त्रीयो लौकिकश्च ; अतो न काचन विरोधशङ्का ।  सर्ववादिनामप्यपरिहार्यः परमार्थसंव्यवहारकृतो व्यवहारः ॥

[ For all proponents, the division as to Paramarthika and Vyavaharika is inevitable.] 
One may not like the term mithya but when it is clear that one aught not to think of the world during the exercise for realizing the Truth, one comes to the conclusion that the world has no place in Brahman, the Real. For the one who is in the process, the world is not there. If one considers it to exist, the Upanishad/Gita says ‘there is no realization of the Truth.’  One has to, by default, realize that Brahman which is bereft of, devoid of, the world. In other words, one has to realize that Brahman has no relation whatsoever with the world. However, even though Brahman, in truth, is totally unrelated to the world, we forcefully, ignorantly, superimpose it on Brahman.  This is what we get to know from the message of the Upanishad and the Bh.Gita. 



  1. Pranam vaidyanathan ji.

    Sir I wanted to ask this question?

    Sir recently I was hearing swami sarvapriyananda on Buddhism.He mentioned on it’s main proponent acharya chandrakirti’s polemics.

    He said that there is this amazing 7 point syllogism,where he proves that there is no such real thing as a chariot in his madhyamakavatar.

    He says it is only just a name.

    Is this similar to what upanishads and then bhagavaan bhashyakara and others say similar.(only in this topic of denoting reality to objects).

    • While I have not done in-depth study of Buddhism, I would say this on the question you have raised: While the Vedantin too holds that the ‘object’ is unreal, he asserts that the substratum is Brahman, Sat, behind this unreal object. This aspect the Buddhist would not say. For him, it is shunya.

      • Pranam vaidyanathan ji.

        Very true sir,they indeed say that even the pratitya samutpada (dependent causation) is also shunya.

        But vaidyanathan ji ,I wanted to know from you whether or not the syllogism which is used by chandrakirti is effective in explaining the unreal nature of objects.

        In madhyamakavatar,while refuting the guna category of nyaya vaisheshika,acharya chandrakirti takes the ,example of a chariot saying that chariot is not real by giving these seven arguments:
        1.the chariot is not same as it’s parts.
        2.the chariot is nothing apart from the parts.
        3.the chariot is not the possessor of the parts.
        4.the chariot is not a container of parts. are not the container of the chariot.
        6.chariot is not the collection of parts.
        7.chariot is not the shape of parts.

      • Very interesting. Here is a blog that I had penned several years ago:

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