Monday, June 4, 2007

Vedanta Paribhasha - Pratyaksham - 1

Hari Aum

Prostrations to Guru. Prostrations to All.

Thathra pratyakshapramaakaranam pratyaksha pramaanam pratyaksha pramaa thu athra chaitanyameva, “yad saakshaad aparokshaad” ithi srutheh ‘aparokshaath’ ithyasya aparoksham ithyarthah

Of these, that which is the distinctive cause (karana) of valid perceptual (pratyaksha) knowledge is the pratyaksha-pramaana. Here [in the definition], valid perception knowledge is but consciousness, because of the sruti, ‘That [Brahman] which is direct, immediate’ (Brh., III.4.1). Of the word aparokshaa, the meaning is aparoksham(immediate).

The first chapter of this work explains about the pratyaksha pramaanam. As we learned in the introduction, pramaa means valid knowledge and that which serves as the instrument to get this valid knowledge is called Pramaanam. Pratyaksha Pramaa means valid perceptual knowledge and Pratyaksha Pramaanam means that which serves as the instrument to get the Pratyaksha Pramaa or valid perceptual knowledge.
According to scriptures, there is only Brahman.
Mandukya says
“Sarvam hyethath brahma”
Everything is Brahman’
Brahman is of the nature of Sat-Chit-Anandam. So whatever seen in the world is only Brahman of the nature of Consciousness. Every object in the world has the essential nature of Brahman along with nama and roopa. When the nama and roopa are removed, what exists is only Sat Chit Ananda Brahman. So all experiences in the world are pervaded by Consciousness only and hence we can say the perceptual knowledge is also Consciousness only. The object which we perceive in front of us is immediate perception of Consciousness only, but because of adhyaasam or superimposition we perceive the object as nama and roopa. The underlying substratum of pot is clay only, therefore though we say “I am seeing a pot”, it is only clay we are seeing and pot is only a temporary name and form of clay. In the same way, whenever we see an object which is front of us though we say that “I am seeing this object”, but actually what is present is only Consciousness. Dharmaraja quotes from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that Brahman is direct and immediate.

Lakshmidhara kavi says in Advaita Makaranda that
“abhaaroopasya vishvasya bhaanam bhaasathridhervinaa
Kadhaachith na avakalpeta bhaa chaaham tena sarvagah”
“The inert Universe can never be experienced without the proximity of Consciousness. I, the Consciousness, therefore, am present everywhere”

Nanu chaithanyam anaadhi, thath katham chakshuraadheh thath karanathvena pramaanathvamithi? Uchyathe chaithanyasyaanaadhithvepi thath abhivyanjaka anthah karana vrittih indriya sannikarshaadhinaa jaayathe, ithi vritti vishishtam chaithanyam aadhimadh ithyuchyathe, jnaana avachedhakathvaacha vrittau jnaanathvopachaarah thadhuktham vivarane, “anthah karanavrittau jnaanathvopachaaraath”

Objection: Is not Consciousness without a beginning? So how can the eye etc., as instruments of that, be the means of knowledge?
Reply: The answer is this. Although Consciousness is without a beginning, yet that mental state which reveals it arises through the contact of the organs etc. Hence consciousness qualified by the mental state is spoken of having a beginning. And as the mental state limits the (resulting) knowledge, it is figuratively designated as knowledge. So it has been said in the Vivarana, “On account of the mental state being figuratively spoken of as knowledge”

After giving a brief explanation of what is valid perceptual knowledge, the author then continues the work by raising the objection and answering them. It is very well known that Consciousness is without beginning and the author has explained that pratyaksha prama is Consciousness only. Since the Consciousness is always there, how can there be any knowledge through the organs of eyes etc. To this he answers, Consciousness is without beginning no doubt, but here we are not speaking about Consciousness in its pure sense. When an object is seen, the mind gets modified and takes the form of the object. The consciousness qualified by this modification of the mind is only said to have a beginning. How the modification of mind is produced? The modification of the mind is caused by the conjunction of sense organ and the object. When the sense organ like eye etc. gets in contact with the object, the mind gets modified and takes the form of the object. The consciousness which is qualified by this modification of the mind only gives the knowledge about the object. When we see a pot, the consciousness limited by the modification of mind, which is in the form of pot, gives knowledge about the pot. If there is no modification it means there is no conjunction of sense organs with any object and thus there is no perception. This consciousness qualified by the modification of the mind is figuratively called as the knowledge.

Prostrations to All

Hari Aum


1 comment:

vedanta said...


Prostrations to all.

After 3 mails in this thread, guess everyone would have got an idea as to how any logical work (based on pramaana) proceeds. Just for the benefit of people who haven't understood it or haven't really given a thought to this perspective, let us spend some time on it.

In all the logical works, there can be basically two types of statements. One is definitive statement which defines a particular term and two are statements which support or give logical reasons to support other statements. This work starts by first with definitive statements defining a term. Once the term is defined, the next step is to raise objections on the term and definition. Next step is to answer the objections by giving appropriate reasons. When the author deals with definitions, he first gives a general definition. Then raises objections in order to explain the definition specifically. These objections are answered by adding other terms to the definition. The objections raised while dealing with definitive statements are not real objections but are questions raised by the author himself in order to introduce new terms to make the definition perfect in all aspects. Once the objections are answered and the definition is without any fault, then the author will raise objections of other systems on the very concept itself. Then finally these objections will be answered suitably with quotations from scriptures and works of acharyas.

If we see the below mail of Rajesh, we will understand the flow easily. Let's see his mail content in brief from this perspective.

The topic or term under discussion is pratyaksha pramaa or knowledge achieved out of perception. Dharmaraja first defines it as "Consciousness is pratyaksha pramaa" and supports it with sruthi quoting. But this explanation is not complete as it can have doubts/objections. Thus he raises the objection that how can Consciousness be perceptual knowledge as perceptual knowledge is something that is created out of perception of objects. This means that perceptual knowledge has a beginning whereas Consciousness is anaadi or without any beginning. This objection is not a real objection as the author wants to introduce new terms into his definition of "Consciousness is pratyaksha pramaa" -- the new term he wants to add is an adjective to Consciousness or knowledge achieved from pratyaksha. Thus he says the definition gives not pure Consciousness but vritti vishista chaitanya or Consciousness qualified by vritti (thought of the mind which he will explain later as the mind going out and taking the form of object which is perceived). Thus the definition had an adjective of vritti vishista (qualified by vritti) to Consciousness. Now we have the definition of pratyaksha praama as vritti vishista chaitanya (instead of initial definition of chaitanya). This is finally supported by statements of acharya (vimukthatman in panchapaadika vivarana -- as vivarana school emphasizes on pramaanas and it is the vivarana school definition that dharmaraja systemizes in this work).

Hope this mail gives a brief view on how this work as well as other logical works proceed while defining terms and explaining things on a deep level.

Please do let know if we need to continue with this thread or not -- if nobody responds back saying that we can continue with the thread, we will have to stop this thread as then there will be only Rajesh preparing and sending out mails without any use to others.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God