Daily Archives: October 28, 2017

Adhyasa-Advaith vedant

 

Adhyasa is the core or central thought of Advaith vedant. One of its meaning is superimposition-i. e wrongful imposition of thoughts and memory. It also means Imposing thoughts based on memory(faulty) on something , which is not what it looks like.

The theory of Adhyasa leads one to the correct knowledge (Brahman). Thinking oneself to be a body or mind is Adhyasa. Thinking or imagining oneself to be anything is Adhyasa. Believing happens because of the coincidence of different events happening together. In yog vashisht, one anecdote-that shows to some extent the nature of Adhyasa- has been cited.

A crow was sitting on the top of the coconut tree. An observer was watching it. As soon the crow flew, a coconut fell down on the ground. The observer thought that because the crow flew, a coconut fell down. Whereas the reality was that even if the crow wouldn’t have flown, still the coconut would have fallen down at that time.

Imagination or wrongful imagination – because of the occurrence of different independent events happening simultaneously – leads to Adhyasa.

An example of wrong knowledge has been cited by another example that proves that whatever we term ourselves or others as-is not so. This is more often used by the neo-vedantis. (though, it looks like more that of dependent origination of Buddhists to me).

Whenever, we have to refer to ourselves; we put our index finger towards our body, indicating that we are a body. On further inspection, However the theory of Adhyasa leads us to the conclusion that there is no thing – that we call Body.
The discussion to explain this further goes on like this:
A-is this your body?
B-Yes, this is my body.
A holds the hand of B. Pointing towards the hand, A asks B;
A-is this your body(holding and pointing the hand of B)
B-No, this is my hand.
A asking surprisingly;
A-but you just said, you are body and now you are saying that this is hand. Can you show me, what do you call a hand?
Pointing out towards fingers and thumb. A asks B( holding and pointing towards the thumb of B.)
A-is this your Hand?
B-No, this is my thumb and that are my fingers.
A again getting surprised.

A-you just said that it is your hand. And now your are saying that you have fingers, thumb and skin. And none of them is Hand!

In other words, there is no hand in hand, likewise there is no body that can be called body.

On further inspection, it is further proved that even the thumb is a name given to the collectively assemblage of skin, bones and blood. On further inspection, the bone is a combination of chemicals that includes calcium too. On further enquiring, a conclusion is reached upon ;
The conclusion is:
Whatever we call a thing or body is not so as it probably seems to be . We have given names to different things, and we are lost in those names.

Though a body is an assemblage of different limbs as well as the conscious mind; yet none of the part is the whole. The mind is not a thumb, the mind is not blood, the blood is not a thumb. All these are a part and yet different from the body. Yet the assemblage of all these is termed as body. And then wrongfully we call the body as ‘I’.

Whereas,

There is no I or me. But still different limbs put together is given a name-body; and yet all the limbs are different from each other as well as from the body. Nobody or no part in the body, can be said with certainty as ‘I’. Yet, everyday, everyone says that I am (the body). And that is Adhyasa.

The same rule applies to all the nouns we know of. Breaking down the noun into parts dissolves the idea of the noun (body=assemblage of limbs) A part (of the noun) on further deliberation too dissolves(thumb is made of bones, blood, skin and muscle tissues) ; as it was previously known to us. The theory of Adhyasa along with Neti-Neti(not this, not that) is used to lead oneself to one’s own real nature-which according to Advaith vedant is – Brahman.

Advaith vedant recognizes 6 means of valid knowledge. The foremost among them is Sruti or the Vedas. Rest of the five means are based on logic. They are:
Pratyakṣa (perception),
Anumāṇa (inference),
Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy),
Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances),
Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof)
To be continued….

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