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Vedanta Paribhasha [Summary]
Vedanta Paribhasha of Dharmaraja Adhvarindra
By S. N. Sastri
The Vedanta-Paribhasha is an epistemological work on Advaita Vedanta as
interpreted by the Vivarana school of Prakasatma Yati, the commentator on
Padmapada's Panchapadika. The author is believed to have lived in the
seventeenth century in South India. In this work he has adopted the method and
phraseology of Navya-Nyaya, introduced by Gangesa Upadhyaya in the fourteenth
(Epistemology is the study of the origin, nature and validity of knowledge).
The work begins with the following prayer:
I bow to that Supreme Self, the embodiment of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss, by
the manifestation of the nescience associated with which thep rojection of the
elements and all things made up of the elements takes place.
The first six chapters are devoted to establishing the means of valid knowledge
(pramanas) from the standpoint of Vedanta, refuting the other systems of
philosophy, particularly Nyaya-Vaiseshika.
The pramanas according to the various systems
Charvakas - Only perception (Pratyaksha).
Buddhists and Vaiseshikas - Perception and Inference
(Pratyaksha and Anumana)
Sankhya and Yoga - Perception, Inference and Verbal testimony (Pratyaksha,
Anumana and Sabda).
Nyaya - Perception, Inference, Verbal testimony and Comparison (Pratyaksha,
Anumana, Sabda and Upamana).
Prabhakara Mimamsa - Perception, Inference, Verbal testimony, Comparison and
Presumption (Pratyaksha, Anumana, Sabda, Upamana and Arthapatti).
Vedanta and Bhatta Mimamsa - Perception, Inference, Verbal testimony,
Comparison, Presumption and Non-apprehension (Pratyaksha, Anumana,Sabda, Upamana,
Arthapatti and Anupalabdhi).
The Naiyayikas include presumption under inference, but this is rejected by
Vedanta on the ground that presumption is based on negative invariable
concomitance (vyatireka-vyapti) which Vedanta does not admit, since Vedanta
admits only affirmative inference.
Valid knowledge and its means
Valid knowledge (prama) is defined as that knowledge which has for its object
something that is not already known and is uncontradicted (anadhigata-abaadhita-arthavishayaka-jnaanam).
The qualification 'something that is not already known' is meant to exclude
recollection. The word 'un-contradicted' excludes illusion or error, as when a
rope is mistaken for a snake.
The Mimamsakas hold that time is also cognised through the organs of sense.
Thus, when an object is seen, the cognition is connected with the moment when it
is seen. As a result, when an object is seen continuously for several moments,
the cognition at each moment is considered to be different from the cognition of
the same object at the previous or next moment. In this view, the cognition at
each moment is a new cognition and so the qualification 'something that is not
already known' applies and the definition is applicable. According to Vedanta,
however, a continuous cognition for several moments is one single cognition. The
knowledge of a pot, for example, is Consciousness reflected in the mental
modification (vritti) in the form of the pot and this is just one throughout the
time the same pot continues to be seen. In this view also the definition
Objection: According to Advaita Vedanta, all objects such as pot are unreal,
being 'mithya', and so the knowledge of the pot is contradicted and it cannot be
Answer: It is only after the realisation of Brahman that the pot is
contradicted. In the above definition, 'uncontradicted' means 'not contradicted
during the transmigratory state'.
Perception as a means of knowledge
Valid perceptual knowledge is nothing but Pure Consciousness.
Objection: Consciousness is without a beginning; i.e. it is eternal. So why
should it need the eye, etc as an instrument to produce it?
Answer: Although Consciousness is eternal, the vritti that reveals it arises
only through the contact of the organ with the object. It is Consciousness
reflected in the vritti that is spoken of as having a beginning. The vritti is
figuratively designated as knowledge (though it is by itself insentient).
The mind is a substance with a beginning and so it has parts. The knowledge
which is a mental modification (vritti) is an attribute of the mind, just as
desire, etc are. See Br.up. 1.5.3-- "Desire, resolve, --- all these are but the
Though desire, etc are attributes of the mind, they are wrongly thought to be
attributes of the self, in the same way as it is said that a hot iron rod
'burns' when it is really the fire that burns. The false identification of the
self with the mind is the reason for considering desire, happiness, etc as
attributes of the self.
According to the author of Vedanta Paribhasha the mind is not an organ.
(However, in the Bhashya on Brahmasutra, 2.4.17, Sri Sankara says:-- In the
Smriti the organs are counted as eleven, and hence the mind also is accepted to
be an organ like those of hearing, etc. The Smriti referred to here is Bhagavad
gita, 13.5, second line. In the Bhashya on this it is said, "The five organs,
ear etc., which are called the sense organs and the five organs which accomplish
actions, and the mind, the eleventh". According to Vivarana, the mind is not an
indriya, but according to Bhamati it is an indriya).
Objection: If the mind is not considered as an indriya, the perception of
happiness, etc, which is produced by the mind, and not by any of the other
sense-organ such as the eye, cannot be considered to be immediate (sakshat),
because only perceptions produced by an indriya can be accepted as immediate.
Answer: No, because the immediacy of knowledge does not depend on its being
produced by an indriya. If it is contended that only knowledge produced by an
indriya is immediate, it would mean that God's knowledge, which is not produced
by any indriya, is not immediate, and God would never have any perceptual
knowledge. On the other hand, if all knowledge produced by an indriya is
considered as immediate, and the mind is considered as an indriya, then
inference, which is produced by the mind, would also have to be accepted as
immediate, which is not acceptable to any one.
What is perceptual knowledge?
Perceptual knowledge (pratyaksha jnanam) arises when the Consciousness limited
by the mental mode (pramana chaitanyam) coincides with the Consciousness limited
by the object. In perception the Consciousness becomes three fold-- (1)
Consciousness limited by the object (prameya-chaitanyam), (2) Consciousness
limited by the mental mode (vritti) (pramana-chaitanyam) and (3) Consciousness
limited by the mind (pramatr-chaitanyam).
The process of visual perception, according to Advaita Vedanta , is described in
chapter 1 of Vedanta Paribhashathus. Just as the water in a tank, issuing
through a hole, enters, through a channel, a number of fields and assumes the
shapes of those fields, so also the luminous mind, stretching out through the
eye, goes to the space occupied by objects and becomes modified into the forms
of those objects. Such a modification is called a vritti of the mind. The same
fact is also stated in Panchadasi, 4.27, 28 and 29, based on Sri Sankara's
Upadesasahasri, Metrical portion, chapter 14, verses 3 &4. The whole process of
visual perception consists of the following steps:--
(1) The mind stretches out through the eye, reaches the object and takes the
form of the object. This is called a vrtti or mode of the mind.
(2) The mental mode removes the veil of ignorance that hides the object.
(3) Consciousness underlying the object, being manifest through the mental mode,
illumines the object.
(4) The mental mode associates the object-consciousness with the
(5) The subject perceives the object.
Consciousness manifest through the mental mode coincident with the object serves
as the knowledge of the object. This is known as phala (fruit), being the
The mind has three main divisions in this process, namely,
(1) the part within the body,
(2) the part that extends from the body to the object perceived,
(3) the part that coincides with the object.
The first part above is known as pramaataa and the consciousness manifest in it
is called pramaata-chaitanya. This is the perceiver. The consciousness manifest
in the second part is called pramaana-chaitanya,or the means of knowledge. The
consciousness manifest in the third partis pramiti-chaitanya or percept.
The object perceived is called prameya. Since the third part of the mind
mentioned above coincides with the object, prameya-chaitanya, the consciousness
underlying the object and pramiti-chaitanya become identical. The point to be
kept in mind here is that all objects in this world are superimposed on
Consciousness, i.e. Brahman. All objects are covered by a veil of ignorance,
which has to be removed for seeing the object. It is only consciousness that
reveals the objects, since the objects themselves are non-luminous.
The object perceived is but the underlying consciousness manifest or appearing
as such. It has no existence apart from the all-pervading Consciousness. That
all-pervading Consciousness (Brahma-chaitanya) which underlies the object known,
that is to say, to be known, becomes manifest as the object known".
(This matter is dealt with in great detail in Panchadasi, chapter VIII- Kutastha
In the case of feelings such as happiness, since the Consciousness limited by
happiness, etc., coincides with the Consciousness limited by the vritti in the
form of happiness, the knowledge in the form "I am happy' is also a perception (pratyakshajnanam).
Objection: In that case, recollection of past happiness would also have to be
considered as pratyaksha.
Answer: No; the two limiting adjuncts, the vritti in the form of recollection
and the vritti in the form of past happiness, belong to different times and so
they cannot coincide. The criterion is that the two limiting adjuncts must
occupy the same space at the same time.
Though punya and papa are also attributes of the mind, they are, by nature,
incapable of being perceived. Capability of being perceived is another
The knowledge in the form 'the hill has fire' is pratyaksha in respect of the
hill and anumana in respect of fire. Knowledge such as 'this is a fragrant piece
of sandal' is aparoksham (immediate) in respect of the sandal, but paroksham
(mediate) in respect of the fragrance. According to Nyaya, such a knowledge is
called jnanalakshana pratyaksha (See Bhasha-Pariccheda- sl. 65).
(Nyaya recognises ordinary (laukika) and extra-ordinary (alaukika) perception.
Ordinary or laukika perception is of two kinds- (1) internal (maanasa), where
the mind comes into contact with psychical states and processes like cognition,
affection, conation, desire, pain, pleasure, aversion, etc; and (2) external
perception in which the five external organs of sense come into contact with
Extra-ordinary oralaukika perception is of three kinds-- samanyalakshana,
jnanalakshana and yogaja. The first is the perception of the universals.
Whenever we perceive a particular cow we first perceive the ‘universal cowness'
inhering in it.
Jnanalakshana is the ‘complicated perception through association'. For example,
I see a blooming rose at a distance and say, "I see a fragrant rose". Here the
visual perception of the rose revives in memory, by association, the idea of
fragrance, which was perceived in the past through the nose. It is perception
revived in memory through the cognition (jnana) of the object in the past. Other
examples are-‘the piece of sandalwood looks fragrant', ‘ice looks cold', etc.
The theory of anyathakhyati is based on this kind of perception. Anyatha means
‘otherwise' and ‘elsewhere'. The shell and the silver are both separately real;
only their synthesis is unreal. The shell is directly present as ‘this' while
the silver exists elsewhere and is revived in memory through jnanalakshana
Yogaja is the perception of all objects, past, present, etc, through yogic
Ageneric attribute (jati) is a distinct category according to Nyaya and is
defined as "that which is eternal and inherent in many things", for example,
jarhood (ghatatva). Vedanta does not accept such generic attributes. According
to Vedanta, jarhood is the sum total of the characteristics of a jar, which
distinguishes it from other things. It is not eternal. These characteristics are
According to Nyaya, inherence (samavaya) is eternal relation. It is the relation
between the whole and parts, jati and vyakti, qualities or actions and the
substances possessing them, and ultimate difference (visesha) and the eternal
substances-- atoms, ether, time, space, etc. Vedanta denies inherence and
substitutes tadatmya, or difference-cum- identity,
Knowledge that is limited by mental modifications in the form of particular
objects is a perception in respect of such knowledge, when it is not different
from the Consciousness limited by objects that are present and are capable of
being apprehended by particular organs.
This is a comprehensive statement about the criterion of perceptuality of
The perceptuality of objects
The perceptuality of objects such as a jar (which are superimposed on the
Consciousness limited by them), consists in their not being different from the
Consciousness associated with the subject (pramaata-chaitanyam).
But in the case of inference, etc, since the mind does not go out to the space
covered by the fire, etc, the Consciousness limited by the fire is not one with
the Consciousness associated with the subject, and therefore the existence of
the fire, etc, is distinct from that of the subject. So the definition of
perception does not wrongly extend to such cases.
In the case of an inference regarding righteousness and unrighteousness, though
the Consciousness limited by them is not distinct from the Consciousness
associated with the subject, they cannot become pratyaksha because they are not
capable of being perceived.
Being cognised by the witness alone (kevalasakshi-vedyatvam) does not mean that
they are objects of the witness without the presence of the mental modifications
corresponding to them, but that they are objects of the witness without the
activity of pramanas such as the sense-organs and inference. Hence
Prakasatmayati has, in Vivarana, admitted a mental modification in the form of
the ego-- ahamakara-vritti. So also, in the case of an illusory piece of silver,
a vritti of nescience in the form of silver (rajata-akara-avidya-vritti) has
been admitted in works such as Samkshepa-sariraka. The illusory silver is 'sakshi-bhasyam',
cognised by the witness-self, since the mental modification is not of the
vyavaharika mind, but is a vritti of avidya. (See page 22 of commentary by
Abhyankar on Siddhantabindu). Thus, an object is said to be cognised by
perception when it is capable of being perceived and is devoid of any existence
apart from that of the Consciousness associated with the subject, which
Consciousness has for its limiting adjunct a mental modification in the form of
Samyoga - conjunction - when a sense-organ is in contact with a substance such
as a pot. This is called samyoga in Nyaya also.
Samyukta-tadatmya- contact of organ with qualities and other attributes of
substances, such as the colour of a pot. Here the organ is connected with the
pot and the colour, according to Vedanta, is identical with the pot. This is
called samyukta-samavaya in Nyaya.
Sound is a quality of ether and is therefore identical with it.
Sabdatva is identical with sound, which is identical with ether.
In Nyaya the conjunction of organs with objects which causes perception is of
Samyoga - contact of a pot by the eye.
Samyukta-samavaya - in the perception of colour of the pot.
Samyukta-samaveta-samavaya- the perception of the universal genus such as
rupatva, colourness. In Vedanta this is called samyukta-abhinna-tadatmya.
Samavaya - the hearing of sound by the organ of hearing, which is the ether in
the cavity of the ear. Sound is a quality of ether and quality and the qualified
are connected by samavaya.
Samaveta-samavaya - the contact in cognising soundness.
Viseshana-viseshya-bhava-sannikarsha- the conjunction in the perception of
negation, as in the cognition: ghata-abhavavad-bhutalam.
Vedanta denies the relation of viseshya-viseshana-bhava admitted by Nyaya, as in
the sentence "The ground has no jar". For tadatmya Nyaya substitutes samavaya or
In Nyaya also, sound is a quality of ether. Sinceq ualities inhere in
substances, they cannot be perceived apart from the latter, except in the case
of sound, which, though a quality, is perceived by itself.
According to Bhatta Mimamsa, however, sound is a substance.
Savikalpaka-pratyaksham- determinate perception, is that knowledge which
apprehends relatedness (of the substantive and the qualifying attribute) (vaisishtya),
such as, "I know the jar". (Here there is the relation of subject and object).
In Nyaya determinate perception is cognition which involves an attribute or an
adjunct, such as "This is a Brahmana", "This is black", "This is a cook". See
page 163 of A Primer of Indian Logic by Prof. S. Kuppuswami Sastri).
Nirvikalpaka-pratyaksha - indeterminate perception, is that knowledge that does
not apprehend this relatedness; for example, knowledge arising from sentences
like, "This is that Devadatta" or "Thou art That". In these cases the knowledge
arises by ignoring the particular features of 'This' and 'Devadatta' or 'Thou'
and 'That'. In Nyaya indeterminate perception is a cognition which does not
involve any attribute or adjunct (prakara).
The criterion of perception is not the fact of its being due to an organ. The
criterion is the fact of the Consciousness associated with the means of
knowledge not being different from the Consciousness associated with the object,
when the object is present and is capable of being perceived, i.e., the identity
of pramana-chaitanya and prameya-chaitanya.
Hence the knowledge arising from the sentence "Thou art That" is pratyaksha,
because the subject itself being the object, the condition about the identity of
the Consciousness limited by That and that limited by Thou is satisfied.
There is a difference between perceptuality of cognition and perceptuality of
objects. In the inference, 'The hill has fire, because it has smoke', both the
hill and the smoke are objects of perception, but not the fire, which is
inferred. Hence, if the perception is considered only with regard to the
objects, then the knowledge of the fire would not be a perception. But if
perceptuality is considered in respect of the cognition, the cognition of fire
is a case of perception, since all knowledge is perceptual in respect of itself
Consciousness, which is self-effulgent, is the sub-stratum of the chariot, etc,
seen in dream. They are experienced as existent; hence it is Consciousness
manifesting itself as Existence that is the substratum.
Some hold that the chariot, etc, seen in dream are direct transformations of
Maya; others that they are its transformations through the medium of the mind.
Two fold destruction of effects
The destruction of an effect is of two kinds. In one the destruction is together
with that of the material cause, and in the other the material cause remains
intact. The first is nullification or badha and the second is cessationor
nivrtti. The cause of the first is the realisation of the truth of the
substratum, Brahman for, without that, nescience, which is the material cause,
is not removed. The cause of the second is the rise of a contrary mental
modification, or the removal of defects. Hence, although on waking up the world
conjured up in dream may not be nullified, i.e., destroyed with its material
cause, nescience, in the absence of realisation of Brahman, yet, like the
cessation of a pot by the blow of a club, the cessation of the chariot seen in
dream occurs as a result of a contrary cognition, or through the removal of the
defect of sleep.
Thus, according to the view that the silver seen in a nacre is an effect of the
subsidiary nescience abiding in the Consciousness limited by the nacre, there is
nullification of the silver together with the nescience regarding the nacre by
the knowledge that the apparent silver is only nacre. But according to the view
that the silver is an effect of the primal nescience, since the latter is
destroyed only by the realisation of Brahman, there is just a cessation of the
silver through the knowledge that it is a nacre-- as in the case of the
destruction of a pot through the blow of a club.
Perception through or without an organ
The perception of happiness, etc, is not due to an organ, since the mind is not
considered as an organ. The nose, tongue and skin generate cognitions of smell,
taste and touch, just remaining at their seats, while the eye and ear apprehend
their objects by themselves reaching the spot occupied by the objects.
From Methods of Knowledge - p.112:
According to Nyaya, the cognition 'This is a jar is manifested by a subsequent
reflective knowledge (anuvyavasaya) in the form of 'I have the knowledge of the
jar'. But according to Bhatta Mimamsa, the knowledge of the jar is known by
inference. When the jar is known it acquires the quality of 'knownness' (jnaatataa),
which is observable. By perceiving this mark of 'knownness' in the jar one
infers one's antecedent knowledge of the jar. Thus, while the jar is known
directly, its knowledge is known indirectly, by inference. Both Bhatta and Nyaya
hold the theory known as paratah-prakasa-vada, according to which the
manifestation of a particular knowledge does not rest on itself, but on another
Vedanta rejects both the above views. If knowledge is not self-manifest, if one
knowledge depends on another for its manifestation, then the second would depend
on a third, and so on, ad infinitum.
From Gangesa's Theory of Truth-- by Jitendranath Mohanty p. 3:
The theory of svatah- pramanya:
Advaita, and the Bhatta, Prabhakara and Misra Mimamsa.
Bauddhas and Nyaya.
Advaita, Prabhakara Mimamsa and Bauddhas.
Misra and Bhatta Mimamsa and Nyaya.
Prakasa is concerned with the apprehension of the knowledge itself. It asks the
question, how is the knowledge itself known? How do I know that I know?
Pramanya is about how a knowledge becomes true and how is its truth ascertained.
Inference or anumaana is defined as that cognition which presupposes some other
cognition. It is knowledge which arises (anu) after another knowledge. It is
mediate and indirect and arises through a mark, linga or hetu (middle term)
which is invariably connected with the saadhya (the major term). Invariable
concomitance (vyaapti) is the nerve of inference. The presence of the linga in
the paksha (minor term) is called pakshadharmataa. The invariable association of
the linga with the saadhya is called vyaapti.
According to Nyaya, anumaana (inference) is the efficient instrument (karana) of
inferential knowledge (anumiti). Anumiti is knowledge that arises from
paraamarsa. Paraamarsa is a complex cognition which arises from a combination of
the knowledge of invariable concomitance (vyaaptijnaana) and that of the
presence of the linga in the paksha -- technically known aspaksha dharmataa
From 'A Primer of Indian Logic', page 194:
Paraamarsa is an indispensable antecedent and should, therefore, be treated as
the cause of anumiti. It is contended by the Naiyayikas that, in the absence of
such a paraamarsa, anumiti does not arise. Paraamarsa is also known as linga
paraamarsa or tritiya linga paraamarsa (the third cognition of the reason). The
cognition of the presence of the linga in the paksha may be said to be the first
linga paraamarsa; the cognition of the invariable concomitance is the second.
The complex cognition which arises from these two cognitions is the third.
The Mimamsakas and the Advaitins hold that the complex cognition called
paraamarsa is not indispensable for anumiti, though it may actually arise just
before anumiti in many cases. They therefore maintain that it would be necessary
to treat anumiti as the effect of vyaapti jnaana and paksha dharmataa jnana and
to exclude paraamarsa from the causal complement of anumiti.
From Methods of Knowledge, page 146:
According to Advaita, the instrument of inferential knowledge is the knowledge
of invariable concomitance, the latent impression of which knowledge is the
cause. As soon as a person who has gained from previous experience the knowledge
of the invariable concomitance between smoke and fire sees smoke on a hill, the
latent impression of this knowledge is revived within him and immediately
follows the conclusion, 'The hill has fire'. Hence the interposition of the
third consideration of the mark is redundant.
Major term - saadhya - fire - probandum
Minor term - paksha - hill
Middle term - linga or hetu - smoke - probans
Anupaadhi in Nyaaya is an adventitious factor which is invariably concomitant
with the probandum and not so with the probans. The relation of vyaapti embodied
in the proposition--- "Wherever there is fire, there is smoke"-- is not a
necessary and unconditioned relation and depends upon the association of fire
with the adventitious contact of wet fuel with fire. Such an adventitious
circumstance is called upaadhi. It is called upaadhi because its invariable
concomitance with the probandum (fire) comes to be erroneously associated with
the probans (smoke), just in the same way as the redness of a flower is
erroneously associated with a crystal in its vicinity.
In a statement of vyaapti, the vyaapya (pervaded - smoke) should be first
referred to and the vyaapaka (pervader - fire) should be the principal
Nyaya postulates five component parts in the syllogism:
Pratijnaa - The proposition
Hetu - reason
Udaaharana - example
Upanaya - application
Nigamana - conclusion.
According to Advaita Vedanta only the first three steps or the last three are
The Naiyayikas classify inference into three different types, as below:
Anvaya-vyatireki- in which the invariable concomitance can be either affirmative
or negative, e.g. - 'Wherever there is smoke, there is fire, as in a kitchen',
and, 'Where there is no fire, there is no smoke, as in a lake'.
Kevala-vyatireki - that which is based solely on negative invariable
concomitance, e.g. - 'Whoever is not omniscient is not the creator'. The
inference, 'God is omniscient, because He is the Creator' is based on this
negative invariable concomitance. No knowledge of affirmative invariable
concomitance is possible in this case, because the co-presence of Omniscience
and Creatorship cannot be seen anywhere.
Kevala-anvayi- This is where the sadhya is present everywhere, e.g. - 'The jar
is nameable, because it is knowable', because name ability (the thing inferred),
is present everywhere. This inference is based solely on the affirmative
invariable concomitance, namely, 'Whatever is knowable is nameable'. Here
negative invariable concomitance is not possible.
The Advaitins, like the Mimamsakas, do not acknowledge negative invariable
concomitance - kevala-vyatireki, because, according to them, knowledge of
negative invariable concomitance is not possible without the knowledge of
affirmative invariable concomitance. The conclusion derived from negative
invariable concomitance is treated as arthaapatti. Both anvaya-vyatireki and
kevala-vyatireki are rejected by them and only anvayi is accepted. This includes
the type of inference designated as kevala-anvayi by the Naiyayikas. But
Advaitins repudiate the latter term as too narrow.
In Vedanta, as in Nyaya, inference is twofold - that for oneself and that for
Inference for oneself:
The inferential knowledge, "The hill has fire", arises when one has knowledge of
the reason (smoke) being present in the thing (hill) where something (fire) is
to be inferred, in the form, "This has smoke", and there is awakening of the
latent impression left by previous experience, in the form, "Smoke is a
subordinate concomitant of fire". The knowledge "The hill has fire" is
inferential only in respect of the fire, and not in respect of the hill, because
the knowledge of the hill is a perception.
Inference for others:
This requires the help of syllogisms. The component parts of a syllogism have
already been given above.
The three levels of reality
According to Advaita Vedanta there are three levels of reality- absolute (paaramaarthika),
empirical (vyaavahaarika) and illusory (praatibhaasika). Brahman alone is
absolute reality. Everything in the universe has only empirical reality, i.e.
they are real only till the dawn of Self-knowledge. Things such the illusory
snake appearing on rope, silver on shell, objects experienced in dream, have
only illusory reality.
The unreality of the universe is inferred from the statements in the srutis that
there is nothing other than Brahman.