Is the world real or unreal?

Is the world real or unreal? 

That is the question that is being raised by Michael for Subbu. I agree with Subbu’s answer. But here I am presenting two of the five definitions of falsity that Shree Madhusudana presents defending previous aachaaryas’ positions. Shankara in his adhyaasa bhaaShya uses the world mithyaa for the world- In his commentary of ManDukya kaarika, he makes a statement – I see it therefore it is false – dRisyatvaat while the dvaitic position is I see it therefore it is real – dRisyatvaat, where pratyaksha pramaaNa or direct perception is given importance for reality. In his commentary on Shankara bhaaShya, Padmapaada defines the mithyaa as – anirvacaniiyam, unexplainable, in the sense that we cannot say it exists and we cannot say it does not exits. This forms the first definition of falsity that dvaitins in NyaayamRita criticize using Navya Nyaaya arguments. Some of the arguments of Michael are not different from Purvapakshi presented in the text and these have been treated exhaustively by our aachaaryaas. I am planning to write these arguments and counter arguments later. I request Shree Sastriji also to present the Advaita Siddhi’s arguments in the order discussed for the benefit of others. Anand Hudli has done some.  

The question is what is this world? Advaita answer is it is neither real nor unreal or mithyaa. Purvapakshi presents – What is mithyaa? In countering the definition given the argument is that what is not sat or real, it should be asat, unreal; and what is not asat, unreal, it should be sat. It should be one or the other and you cannot have both real and unreal in the same locus – That is the essence argument of puurvapakshi saying that mutually opposing qualities of sat and asat locussed on one contribute to self-contradiction, not acceptable. Madhusudana says NO. There is no contradiction here. The contradiction comes only if one consider as mutually exclusion. But if one defines the real and unreal correctly then there is no contradiction. This as I see forms the essence of discussion between Michael and Subbu. These are definitions:

1. Real is that which is not negated in three periods of time. And by this definition Brahman alone is real and nothing else. Brahman cannot be seen – agotram -says the scripture. Hence whatever I perceive cannot come under Real.

2. Unreal is that where there is never a time and place to have a locus for its existence. This should be actually called tuccham in stead of asat – unfortunately the scriptures use the asat for this also. This cannot be perceived too –since there is no locus of its existence as in vandhyaaputraH.  

3. Now there is a third category which does not fall under 1 and 2 – that is the world – I see it therefore it is not UNREAL(This is also B.sutra 2-28 also). But it undergoes continuous modification therefore it not trikaala abhaaditam, that is it does not fulfill the definition 1 or reality. Hence it is not REAL. Hence it is neither real nor unreal. Hence it is anirvachaniiyam says Pancapaadika which Madhusudana justifies as valid definition for the world where there is no contradiction that dvaitins point out. Since if it is not 1, it can be 2 or 3 and if it is not 3, it can be 1 or 2 and if it is not 1 and 2 then it can be 3. It is not unreal since it is experienced and it is not real since it can be sublated. Hence it is only transactionally real like our good old ring and bangle – vaacaarambhanam vikaaro naamadheyam – there are there – naamkevaaste – but what is there is really gold. Similarly what is there when I see the world is Brahman only in varieties of names and forms – That is what is involve in tat tvam asi statement too. aitadaatmyam idam sarvam tat satyam – sa aatma – tat tvam asi – swetaketu. The essence of the whole universe (idam sarvam) is nothing but the very existence principle – that you are. The discussion automatically leads to the second definition of mithyaa that Madhusudana presents. 

2. This definition comes from Shree Prakaashaatma Yati who is also known as VivaraNaacharya, who in further explaining Shankara adhyaasa bhaaShya justifies the mithyaa aspect of the world using the scriptural statement – neha naanaasti kinchana – there is nothing what so ever here. Here being used in terms world of perceptual presence now – that is as I am perceiving the world right now  – the declaration is there is nothing what so ever real here since what is real is Brahman which cannot be perceived. Since non existence thing cannot be perceived, therefore on the basis of the scriptural statement whatever is perceived is mithyaa only since it is neither real nor unreal. The definition for mithyaa is: pratipanna upaadhou traikaalikanishedhapratiyogitvam vaa mithyaatvam’ – in  essence where three I am seeing now is not really there and what is there really I cannot see. I am seeing pot there but pot is really not there – what is there is only clay and not pot. Hence pot is mithyaa. I am seeing the world in front of me, there where I am seeing the world, it is not there since in this case what is there is only Brahman that I cannot see. Hence the second definition is off shoot of the first but comes with scriptural justification for the mithyaa besides the vaachaarambhanam statement quoted above.  

Hence real or unreal question should be really real, unreal or mithyaa. And the world itself is mithyaa – this applies equally to waking world as well as the dream world. In that sense there is not much difference. Hence Shankara says in aatma bodha:

Sakaale satyavat bhaati, prabodhe satyasat bhavet – it appears to be real in its time but when one is awaken its unreality is recognized. Here the term is satyavat – meaning it APPEARS  to be real. The similar statement Shankara makes in DakshiNamurthi first sloka – vishvam darpaNa dRisyamaana nagarii tulyam nijaatargatam –exhaustive analysis has been provided for these slokas by Shree Subbuji and is stored in the file section of advaitin list.  

Hari Om!


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