Siddhantabindu of Madhusudana Sarasvati---9

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E text source- 50. Obj. contd: Only when the not-self is established to be superimposed on the self, can there be superimposition of the self on the not-self. The self can be said to have some defect or similarity, etc., only when it is established that the not-self is superimposed on it. Only thereafter (that is to say, only after it is established that the self has some defect or similarity with the not-self) can it be established that the not-self is superimposed on the self. Thus defects such as self-dependence, etc., arise.

Note: The objector proceeds on the assumption that there can be superimposition only if the substratum has some defect and some similarity with the object superimposed. This assumption is based on the fact that in the rope-snake example the rope which is the substratum has the defect of being in dim light and has similarity with a snake in appearance. In the nacre-silver example, the nacre has the defect of being at a distance and has similarity to silver in brightness. These two facts, defect and similarity, become known only after the illusory snake or silver is seen. So the objector says, firstly, that there can be superimposition on the self only if the self has a defect and a similarity with the superimposed object. Then he says that the existence of the defect and the similarity can be known only after the fact of superimposition is established. So the establishment of superimposition depends on the existence of defect and similarity and the establishment of the existence of defect and similarity depends on the establishment of superimposition. Thus the defects of self-dependence and mutual dependence arise.

51. Obj. contd: By this, the contention that the mutual superimposition of the self and the not-self cannot be debated because it is due to nescience, is refuted, since nescience is not logically possible in the self which is self-effulgent (pure consciousness). Moreover, is the nescience illusory or real? In the first alternative, how can defects such as self -dependence be avoided? (Nescience can be illusory only if it is superimposed on the self by nescience, which means there is the defect of self-dependence. If the superimposition is caused by another nescience, then there is the defect of infinite regress). In the second alternative, since nescience is real there can be no liberation. If everything is due to superimposition, there can be no distinction between illusion and right knowledge. To say that the same self is the means of knowledge, the object of knowledge, the knowledge itself and the knower is contradictory. If it is claimed that there is no contradiction, then it will become the same as vijnanavada (according to which everything is nothing but internal cognition).

52. Answer: Now we say: It is well known that every one has the knowledge in the form, “I am a man, I am an agent and experiencer, etc.”. That is not a mere remembrance because it is directly experienced and is devoid of the cognition of difference (between himself and his body). Nor is it right knowledge, because it is contradicted by Sruti and reasoning.

Note: Knowledge is of two kinds, namely, remembrance and experience. The knowledge mentioned above is directly experienced and so it cannot be mere remembrance which relates only to something experienced previously. Experience is again of two kinds, illusory like that of nacre being taken for silver, and real like actual silver being recognized as silver. In the illusory knowledge there is non-cognition of difference between nacre and silver and this is due to some defect in the sense-organ, etc. In the right knowledge of silver as silver also there is non-cognition of difference, and this is because there is actually no difference between what is in front and what it is recognized to be. So non-cognition of difference is common to illusory as well as right knowledge. Therefore the opponent can contend that the knowledge “I am a man, etc.” could be real, like the knowledge of real silver as silver, since no difference is cognized between the self and the body. This contention is refuted by pointing out that it is contradicted by Sruti and reasoning, as will be seen from the following paragraphs.

53. “The infinite entity that is identified with the intellect and is amid the organs” (Br. Up. 4.3.7), “This self is Brahman” (Br. Up. 2.5.19), “Brahman is Reality, Consciousness and Infinitude” (Tai. 2.1.1), “Brahman is Consciousness and Bliss” (Br. Up. (3.9.28), “The self that is free from sin” (Cha. 8.7.1), “The Brahman that is immediate and direct; the self that is within all” (Br. Up. 3.4.1), “That which transcends hunger and thirst, grief, delusion, decay and death” (Br. Up. 3.5.1), “He is untouched by whatever he sees in that state (of dream), for this infinite being is free from all attachment” (Br. Up. 4.3.15)—Sruti statements such as these declare that the self is not an agent nor an experiencer, and is itself Brahman which is of the nature of supreme bliss.