Siddhantabindu of Madhusudana Sarasvati---4

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10. The goal of life is not attained by the mere knowledge of the (primary) meanings of the terms ‘that’ and ‘thou’, because of imperceptibility (of the Creator) and multiplicity (of the jivas).

Note: There can be no identity between God who is the primary sense of ‘that’ and the individual jiva who is the primary sense of ‘thou’, because God is only one and cannot be known by the senses, and jivas are many and are actually perceived.

11. There is no tautology (in the sentence ‘That thou art’) because there is an apparent difference between the primary senses of the two terms. Since the implied meanings are identical, a non-relational sense is conveyed.

Note: It cannot be said that in the Mahavakya there is tautology-- saying the same thing over again in different words - on the ground that two words with the same meaning, namely ‘that’ and ‘thou’ are used. There is no such defect because the primary meanings of the two words are different. At the same time, this difference is only apparent and not substantial, because the implied senses are identical, namely, pure consciousness. A sentence such as ‘The cloth is blue” is said to be relational, because it brings out the relationship of substance and quality between the cloth and blueness. But in the sentence ‘That thou art’ there is no such relationship because both the terms refer to the same partless entity, pure consciousness. So this sentence is described as non-relational.

12. When a sentence is non-relational, denoting an unconditioned entity, the mental impression created by the words in that sentence is also that of an unconditioned entity, if the words are understood in a manner that is in consonance with the sense of the sentence as a whole. This is in conformity with our experience. The recollection brought about by a sentence is that of a conditioned entity only when the entity denoted by the words in it is conditioned. In the present instance the sense of the sentence (the Mahavakya) is unconditioned (and therefore non-relational), because that alone, being right knowledge, has the capacity to destroy nescience.

Note: This paragraph is intended to refute the view held by the adherents of some other schools. According to them a sentence, whether scriptural or otherwise, can convey only a relational sense and can therefore refer only to a conditioned entity. This view is rejected and it is pointed out that the sense of the sentence depends on the nature of the entity it denotes. Two examples of non-relational sentences are generally given in Vedantic works. One is the sentence, “This is that Devadatta”. By this sentence the identity of the person now in front and a person named Devadatta who was seen at another time and place, is conveyed. Another sentence is, “The most resplendent is the moon”, said in reply to the question, ”Which is the moon?”. This sentence does not intend to convey any relational content, but merely identifies the moon.

13. It cannot be said that a word can be given an implied meaning only if the entity intended to be denoted by the implied meaning has a special characteristic. The primary or implied meanings of the words in a sentence are those which are in consonance with the sense of the sentence as a whole.

Note: In the sentence “There are huts on the Ganga”, the implied meaning (lakshya-artha) of the term ‘Ganga’ is the bank of the river, since there cannot be huts on the river itself. The special characteristic feature of the bank is ‘tiratva’ or bankness. An objection may be raised that resort to the implied meaning of a word is possible only when the particular implied meaning intended to be given to the word has some characteristic (known as ‘lakshyata - avacchedaka), just as the ‘bank’ has the characteristic feature ‘bankness’. Therefore, it may be contended, the unconditioned jiva and Brahman, which have no characteristics at all, cannot be the implied meaning of the terms ‘thou’ and ‘that’. This objection is rejected by pointing out that the existence of any characteristic feature for the sense implied by a word is not an essential condition for the word to have that implied sense. What is necessary is only that the implied sense should be in consonance with the idea intended to be conveyed by the sentence, just as the meaning ‘bank’ for the word ‘Ganga’ is in consonance with the idea intended to be conveyed by the sentence “There are huts on the Ganga”.

14. Objection: Since the import of the Mahavakya becomes known through the understanding of the meaning of the words in it from the subsidiary Vedantic sentences themselves, and since the Mahavakya is itself self-valid (a valid means of knowledge by itself), it is reasonable to conclude that the Mahavakya itself can cause the cessation of nescience and its effects. So what is the need for an enquiry?

15. Ans: It is true that Vedantic statements, being by themselves authoritative, can give rise to the direct realization of the unconditioned Self. But because of the obstruction caused by the doubts arising from the contradictory views of various schools, the Vedantic statements are not able to destroy the ignorance of those whose minds have not attained the necessary maturity. By enquiry the doubts are removed and then cessation of ignorance invariably results. Therefore enquiry is undertaken for the refutation of the contradictory views which are the cause of the doubts.