Siddhantabindu of Madhusudana Sarasvati---10

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E text source- 54. The knowledge common to every one in the form “I am a man, etc.”, cannot be right knowledge (prama) because of the following reasons. Things which undergo change (such as the body) have necessarily to be limited in time, space and with respect to other objects and so they cannot be the self. (A thing which changes must perish some day and so it is limited in time. Change implies increase or decrease in size. This is not possible for an entity that is all-pervading and so it must be limited in space. it is also limited by other objects). The body cannot know itself, because the same entity cannot be both subject and object at the same time and so the relationship of seer and seen is not possible. The relationship of quality and its possessor is not possible between knowledge and the body, whether they are considered as different from each other or as non-different. In the view that knowledge is not eternal the difference between various knowledges, their non-existence after destruction and prior to origination, the relationship of inherence, and a genus ‘knowledgeness’ which is the common quality of all different knowledges (just as cowness is the common quality of all cows) will have to admitted, and that is cumbersome. If knowledge is accepted as only one (though the objects of knowledge are many) there will be simplicity. Differences in knowledge, such as ‘knowledge of pot’, ‘knowledge of cloth’ are only due to the different limiting adjuncts (pot and cloth). By itself knowledge is only one. The notion of origination and destruction of knowledge is only due to the necessity of relating the knowledge to the object of knowledge (since we have to say what a particular knowledge is about, such as knowledge of pot, etc.). The difference between one pot and another is known by itself without the need of referring to any adjunct, and there can be no difference of opinion on this matter (unlike knowledge where the adjunct, namely, object of knowledge has also to be specified). If knowledge which is only one (whatever may be the object of knowledge) is split up and considered as ‘many knowledges’, then space, time and the directions will also have to be considered as many (which is not accepted even by Tarkikas). Moreover, if agency, etc., are real, then there can be no liberation at all, because that which is the real nature of a thing can never be removed from it. If the self is not self-luminous, the universe will be blind (insentient). Being the object of supreme love of all, the self is of the nature of bliss (since what every living being wants is happiness). Therefore the self is devoid of qualities, eternal, self-luminous and of the nature of bliss.

55. Thus, since the only course left is to conclude that this (the cognition ‘I am a man, etc.,’) is only a delusion, it is necessary to postulate a proper cause for this delusion. That cause is found to be something whose existence is established as superimposed on the non-dual self, from the fact of the appearance of the dharmi (the entity who describes himself as ‘I am a man, etc.). That cause is the indescribable ignorance which is experienced by the witness-consciousness in the form ‘I do not know’. This is not of the nature of non-existence (in the form of mere absence of knowledge). Since it has been said that knowledge is eternal, there can never be absence of knowledge.

Note: Since it has been concluded that the cognition ‘I am a man’ is neither remembrance nor right knowledge, it follows that it is only a delusion (like the cognition of nacre as silver). Now we have to state the cause of this delusion. The cause has to be something that has the capacity not only to conceal the self, but also to make the self identify itself with the body and attribute to itself the qualities of being a man, an agent, experiencer, etc. This cause is nescience which cannot be described either as existent or as non-existent. This is the ignorance that is actually experienced when a person says ‘I do not know’.

56. (If nescience is claimed to be only absence of knowledge of atman), then there will be self-contradiction if it is said that the dharmi, ‘I’ and the pratiyogi, absence of knowledge of the atman, are both known. Equally, there will be self-contradiction if it is said that neither of them is known, because the presence of a thing cannot be negated without knowing both the place where the thing is negated and the object that is negated; for example it cannot be said that there is no pot in a particular place unless that place and the pot are both known.

Note: This is another argument to show that nescience is not mere ‘abhava’ or absence of knowledge of atman, but is of the nature of a positive entity. At the same time, nescience cannot be categorized either as existent or as non-existent, and is indescribable (anirvachaniya).

57. This nescience cannot be of the nature of delusion, doubt or a succession of mental impressions caused by delusion or doubt, because it is directly experienced. Delusions, doubts and their impressions which relate to the past or to the future cannot be experienced directly at the present time. This nescience cannot be mere negation because it is something which covers or hides (the atman) and is the material cause of the delusion in the form ‘I am a man, etc’. The self cannot be the cause of this delusion because it is immutable. Nor can the mind, etc., be the cause of the delusion, because they are themselves products of nescience.