Siddhantabindu of Madhusudana Sarasvati--6

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25. By the rejection of the elements, the vital air and mind, which are products of the elements are also rejected. By the rejection of the mind, the Buddhist view that momentary consciousness is the self is also rejected, since it is only a modification of the mind. Consequently, the Vaiseshika theory in which the self which is different from the body (and the mind) is accepted to be the agent and enjoyer also stands rejected, because agency and enjoyership pertain to the mind. This is because according to Advaita Vedanta knowledge, desire, happiness, etc. are in the mind. The Sruti says, “Desire, resolve, etc., are all nothing but the mind’ (B. Up. 1.5.3). Therefore it is established that all the views starting from the view that the self is the body, up to those which consider the self to be merely an enjoyer, are untenable.

26. The reason for this is given:- Because they (body, mind, senses) are variable; i.e. they are always changing and so perishable. The self cannot have either antecedent non-existence (non-existence before origination), or annihilative non-existence (non-existence after destruction), because the self is not limited by space and time (and has therefore neither origination nor destruction, being eternal). Things which are so limited, such as a pot, cannot be the self, and cannot know their antecedent non-existence or annihilative non-existence. Things which are different from the self (such as the body, etc.,) are insentient; they cannot have the characteristics of the self. Even though the self (in all bodies) is only one, it is quite logical that there is no mixing up of the joys, sorrows, etc., of different jivas, because the mind which is the locus of joy and sorrow is accepted to be different for each individual (jiva). It is not possible for an entity to know its own non-existence, since the knower and his non-existence cannot be there at the same time. Moreover, if the self has origination and destruction, there will be loss of the fruits of actions performed and the experiencing of results without corresponding actions. Therefore there can be no antecedent or annihilative non-existence for the self. Since the self which is existence itself is present everywhere, there can never be absolute non-existence for it.

27. Since duality is not real (mithya), it has existence only because of its having attained identification with the reality of the substratum. As in the case of nacre-silver, etc., it is illogical to say that there is absence of identification of the superimposed with the substratum.

Note: A piece of nacre is mistaken for silver only because the superimposed silver is identified with the substratum, nacre. The silver is not real, only the nacre exists. Without the substratum, nacre, silver would not appear at all. Similarly, the world of duality, which is not real from the absolute standpoint, appears to be real only because it is identified with the substratum, Brahman, which alone is real.

28. Therefore the self is not the counter-correlative of non-existence. The body, senses, etc., are counter-correlatives of non-existence. Therefore these (body, senses, etc.,) are not the self. The essence of the conclusion is that these (body, etc.,) are indescribable (as real or unreal) and are merely superimposed by beginningless, indescribable nescience on the self which is self-luminous pure consciousness, even though it is without a second.

Note-1: Pratiyogi means ‘counter-correlative’. When it is said that there is no pot at a particular place or time, the pot is said to be the counter-correlative of its non-existence at that place or time. A thing can be the counter-correlative of its non-existence only if it can be non-existent at some time or place. Everything in this world, including our own bodies, occupies only a limited space and is non-existent elsewhere. All things are non-existent before they come into existence and after their destruction. So all things are non-existent at some time and in some place. They can therefore be counter-correlatives of their non-existence. But the self is eternal and all-pervading. It can never be non-existent in space or time. It is therefore said here that the self is not the counter-correlative of non-existence.

Note-2: Even when the world is experienced, the self is the only reality. The world has no reality, but appears to be real only because of the substratum, self or pure consciousness, just as the unreal silver appears to exist only because of the substratum, nacre. Even when the silver appears to exist, there is really nothing but nacre. This is what is stressed here.

29. A doubt may arise here. Since it is admitted that the self is of the nature of consciousness, and since there is no consciousness during deep sleep as seen from the fact that a person who wakes up from deep sleep recollects that he was totally ignorant and knew nothing during sleep, how can the self be said to be a constant factor (in all the three states)? In reply to this it is said “Its existence can be clearly established only in the state of deep sleep”.

Note: Though the self exists in all the three states, it cannot be known by itself in the waking and dream states because of the presence of the limiting adjuncts in the form of the mind and senses. In deep sleep these adjuncts are not there and only the self exists.