Introduction to Brahma Sutrani - 5|
Shankara introduces Brahmasutra in his bhashyam through the introduction of adhyaasa or
error. This is called Adhyaasa Bhashyam where Shankara explains the commom misconception
of every human being. The purpose of the adhyaasa bhashyam is to show that the human
problem is the result of an error about one's Self.The solution lies in removing this
error through knowledge.
When a rope is not clearly visible, a person mistakes it for a snake. This is called
partial knowledge (saamanya jnanam). The Existence that is perceived as "There
is" is the saamanya amsha. Being ever evident,it is called the Satya amsha. The
specific feature (vishesha amsha) that it is a rope is covered partially by darkness. When
the vishesha amsha is covered then it gets replaced by another vishesha amsha called
snake, which is false (mithya). When the existence of rope is known and we say,
"there is a rope ", the correction takes place in vishesha amsha.
Shankara says, similarly, when we say "I am a human being",the "I"
is samaanya amsha and the human being status is vishesha amsha and this mithya vishesha
amsha is the result of covering of the real samaanya amsha. The real vishesha amsha is
Brahman / Ananda / Anantatvam / Poornatvam which is revealed by vedantic teaching.
- Error can be defined as misapprehension of the rope - anyatha grahanam.
- Error is super-imposition of snake - adhyaasa aaropa.
- Error is a combination of a real rope and unreal snake - satya anrita mithuni karanam.
The aim of the entire Brahmasutra is to remove this error by negating the superimposed
The Adhyaasa Bhashyam of Shankara is broadly classified into 6 topics.
- Adhyaasa Shanka - Objection to the idea of error raised by other schools of philosophy.
- Adhyaasa Shanka Sammadhaanam - Answering the objections.
- Adhyaasa Lakshanam - Defining the error.
- Adhyaasa Sambhaavana - Showing the possibility of the error that occurs.
- Adhyaasa Pramaanam - Proof to show the error.
- Adhyaasa Upasamharam - Conclusion.
For the sake of convenience, Adhyaasa Lakshanam is dealt first.
ADHYAASA LAKSHANAM: Shankara gives 2 definitions directly and one indirectly.
- Smriti roopah paratra poorva drishta avabhaasa adhyaasa - The perception of a previously
experienced object (which is in the form of memory) on a wrong locus i.e., perceiving an
experienced snake on a rope.
- Athasmin tad buddhi -the notion of something upon something else.
- Satya anrita mithuni karanam - (indirect definition) combining the real and the unreal.
ADHYAASA SHANKA: It is the objection raised by other schools of philosophy. They object
to the very introduction of adhyaasa claiming that an error in atma-anatma is not
possible. According to these philosophers Adhyasa requires four conditions to be
fulfilled. They are:
- Rope is pratyaksha vishayah i.e. an object perceived in front.
- Rope should not be completely known. One should be ingorant of the fact that there is a
rope - agnya tatvam.
- Saadrishyam - there should be a similarity between what is superimposed (snake) and the
object (rope) perceived.
- A false snake is superimposed because of the experience of a real snake. Poorva anubhava
janya samskarah: vaasana born out of the experience of the "real" snake before.
These conditions do not hold good for atma-anatma adhayaasa. Atma is self evident, and
hence ignorance of the Atma is impossible. In addition, there are no similarities between
atma and anatma for a misconception to take place. Atma being the conscious, changeless
subject and anaatma the insentient object, subject to modifications.
Adhyasa requires the previous experience of a real object in order to create a samskara of
the superimposed entity. Anatma being unreal, a previous experience of Anatma is not
possible. Therefore, no vasana or samskara of Anatma is created. Hence, atma-anatma
adhyaasa is not possible.
These are the objections raised by other schools of philosophy.
Shankara refutes these claims and proves the possiblity of Adhyasa.
This will be presented in the next session.