Siddhantabindu of Madhusudana Sarasvati---11

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58. Sruti statements such as--“(They realized) the power of the supreme Being which is concealed by its own gunas (or effects)” (Sve. 1.3), which speaks of the power as constituted of the gunas; “Know maya to be prakriti and the wielder of maya to be the supreme Lord” (Sve.4.10); “The supreme Being is perceived as having manifold forms because of maya” (Br. Up. 2.5.19); “They are covered by ignorance” (Ch. 8.3.2); “Covered by mist” (Tai. Sam.; “Then finally cessation of all maya”: (Sve.1.10);-show that maya which is nescience, is indescribable, unreal, removable by the knowledge of the Reality, is the cause of the superimposition of itself and others (such as ego, mind, senses, body). Defects such as self-dependence do not arise here because nescience has no beginning and the self -luminous self is itself pure consciousness.

Note: The Sruti statements quoted above establish that nescience is not mere negation of knowledge and that at the same time it cannot be categorized either as real or as unreal. Since it is destroyed by knowledge it cannot be real. Since its effect, the world, is actually experienced, it is not unreal. It is therefore indescribable. It cannot be said that there is the defect of self-dependence on the ground that nescience is the cause of its own superimposition, because nescience has no beginning at all. Since the self is eternal, no such defect can arise with regard to it either.

59. Thus, the ego is superimposed on pure consciousness on which nescience has already been superimposed. On that are superimposed the qualities of the ego such as desire, resolve, etc., and the qualities of the sense organs such as one-eyedness, deafness, etc. Since the senses are not directly perceivable, they are themselves not superimposed. (No one says, “I am the eye or ear”, but one may say, “I am one-eyed”, or “I am deaf”. Thus only the quality of the sense organs is superimposed and not the organ itself). On that the gross body is superimposed, but only with reference to its qualities, in the form, “I am a man”. (The body is itself not superimposed, but only its qualities).

60. There is no superimposition of the body itself, because nobody has a perception in the form “I am this body”. Only the qualities of the body such as stoutness, etc are superimposed.(One says “I am stout, I am lean, I am tall, etc. These are all qualities of the physical body and not of the self, but they are attributed to oneself by superimposition). On that there is the superimposition of the well-being or otherwise of son, wife, etc. (A man feels happy when his son, wife, etc, are happy and the opposite when they are unhappy. Thus there is the superimposition of the happiness, unhappiness, success, failure, etc of persons near and dear to him).

61. Similarly, there is also the superimposition of consciousness on the ego and upto the gross body. This superimposition is only by association and it is known as samsarga adhyaasa. (Even this association is only by way of reflection of consciousness in the mind, because there cannot be any actual association between consciousness which is absolutely real and the mind which has only empirical reality. Because of this reflection, the mind appears to have sentiency of its own, just as the moon appears to have brightness because of the reflection of the sun’s light on it).

Note: Superimposition is of two kinds. When a rope is mistaken for a snake, the snake alone is seen. The existence of the rope is not known at all. Here the snake is said to be superimposed on the rope. This is known as svaroopa-adhyaasa. The second kind of superimposition is when a crystal appears to be red in the proximity of a red flower. Here both the crystal and the flower are seen as existing, and the redness of the flower is attributed to the crystal also. This is known as samsarga-adhyaasa. Both these kinds of superimposition are present in the mutual superimposition of the self and the non-self. Because of the superimposition of the not-self on the self, the existence of the self is not recognized at all, and the not-self, (that is, the body, mind and organs), is alone recognized as existing. This is svaroopa-adhyaasa. In the superimposition of the self on the not-self, only the consciousness of the self is attributed to the body, mind and organs. This is samsarga-adhyaasa.

62. There is gradation in attachment depending on the gradation in proximity between the substratum and what is superimposed. It is said by the Vartikakara (Suresvaracharya): “The son is dearer than wealth, one’s own body is dearer than the son, the senses are dearer than the body, the mind is dearer than the senses, the self is dearer than the mind and is the most loved”. (Brihadaranyakopanishad bhashya vartikam, 1.4.1031) Pinda - the physical body; prana- the inner organ (mind); That the senses are dearer than the physical body is patent from the common experience of a person instinctively closing his eyes at the fall of a weapon or when there is a sudden downpour. Because of the mutual superimposition, the consciousness and the inert (self and not-self) become bound together (and appear as one inseparable whole). If it is said that there is superimposition of only one entity on another, (and not mutual superimposition of two entities), then the other (the entity on which there is superimposition) will not be perceived (just as the rope is not perceived when there is superimposition of snake on it). In a delusion, only that which is superimposed is perceived. There has therefore necessarily to be mutual super-imposition as in the case of the erroneous group cognition in the form ‘These are tin and silver’.