This paper has been written by D. Krishna Ayyar who has had the good fortune to listen for now over two decades and a half to his guru, Swami Paramarthananda, who has been teaching Advaita Vedanta at Chennai, India.

I am more than happy to answer questions. Please send an email to: ayyarkrishna4[at]


Annexure II - Sankaracarya, Surswaracarya, Vidyaranya, Prakasatman, Vacspati Misra

Table of Contents
Sankaracarya (9th cebtury A.D.).  Sureswarcarya (disciple of Sankaracarya) (author of Taittiriya-Bhashya-vartika and Brahadaranyaka-Upanishad vartika, which are sub-commentaries, in verse form, of Sankaracrya’s bhasyas, Naiskaryasidhi Manasollasa etc.) (9th century). Vacaspati Misra (author of Bhamati, a sub-commentary of Sankaracarya’s Brahmasutra bhashya)  (9th century)  Prakasatman (10th century) (author of Vivarana, a sub-commentary of  Pancapadika of Padmapada which itself is  a sub-commentary of Sankaracarya’s Brahmasutrabhasya of the first four sutras Padmapada was a disciple of adisciple of Sankacarya. Prakasatman is the authorof another sub-commentary of Brahmasutras  . Vidyaranya, author of a prakarana granthas called Pancadasi, Drgdrsyavivivekaand Jivanmuktiviveka and also of Anubhutiprakasa, commentary in verse form, of Upanishads - Katha,Kena,Mundaka, Aitereya, Prasna, Chandogya and Brahadaranyaka and Vivarana-prameya-sangraha, a concise exposition of the topics covered by Vivarana of Prakasatman. (14th century).


Section 1 -     Sankaracarya

1.  Creation

1. In TUB 2.6.1 (commenting on the passage in Tu which describes creation – ‘idam sarvam asrjata….satyam ca anrtam ca satyam abhavat’) Sankaracarya talks of three orders of reality – Brahman as the sole absolute reality (ekam eva hi paramaartha satyam brahmaa….satyam jnaanam anantam) from which everything in creation is born and of creation consisting of relative reality, i.e.  empirical phenomena like water which has a higher order of reality compared to mirage (vyavahaaravishayam aapekshikam satyam) and absolutely false things like mirage (anrtam) (Satyam ca vyavahaaravishayam-adhikaaraat-na-paramaarthasatyam. Ekam- eva hi paramaarthasatyam brahma. Iha punah-vyavahaaraharavishayam-aapekshikamekam satyam, mrgatrshnikaadi-anrta-apekshaya-udakaadi-satyam ucyate. Anrtam ca tat-vipariitam. Kim punah ‘etat sarvam abhavata’? satyam paramaartha satyam.  Kim punah tat? Brahma, satyam jnaanam-anantam brahma-iti prkrtatvaat). Thus, Sankaracarya explains this part of Taittiriya as the pramaanam ( authority) for the Advaitic doctrine of three orders of reality –
(a) absolute reality (paaramaartika satyam) which is the unconditioned, attributeless,  non-dual Brahman (nirupaadhika, nirguna, advidiiya Brahman) ,
(b) empirical reality (vyaavahaarika satyam) which is the entire universe of nama roopa including the qualified Brahman (saguna Brahman, Iswara),  Maya and the bodies and minds of living beings
(c) subjective reality (praatibhaasika satyam), which is the kind of things like the dream world (swapna prapanca), the mirage etc.

2. (a) In the first chapter of BSB, Sankaracarya starts talking of Brahman as the material and intelligent cause of the universe (upaadaana kaaranam and nimitta kaaranam respectively and as the omniscient and omnipotent source of the manifestation of name and form (naama roopa) that are associated with diverse agents and experiences, actions and results, with well regulated space, time and causation and as the ordainer and designer of the manifestation. But all this is in the context of refuting the Sankya thesis that pradhaana (equated with Maya), an insentient entity, is the material cause of the universe, Later, however, in BSB 1.1.12, he clarifies that Brahman is known   two aspects – one as qualified by the upaadhi in the form of the varieties of modification of name and form (nama-roopa-vikaara-bheda-upaadhi-visishtam) and the other free of all upaadhis (sarva –upaadhi-varjitam).     When he comes to the second Chapter of Brahma Sutra,  he points out that Brahman cannot undergo change, and explains, in BSB 2.1.14, that the one becoming many as nama roopa is an empirical (vyavaharika) phenomenon conjured up by Avidya; all notions of differences and of the division of the experiencer and the experienced are due to unreal nama roopa conjured up by Avidya and are there only in  a state of ignorance and that rulership (iisritatvam), omniscience (sarvajnatvam) and omnipotence (sarvasaktitvam) are relevant only in the empirical plane; in the plane of absolute reality (paaramaartika), there are no empirical transactions. . In BUB 3.8.12 and AUB 3.1.3, he says that the transcendental Brahman, devoid of all attributes  and all action, pure, non-dual, eternal becomes, by the association of the upaadhi of extremely pure knowledge (atyanta-visuddha-prajna-upaadhi-sambandhena) becomes the Omniscient , Iswara and is known as  antaryaami by virtue of his activator and controller  of the activity of the unmanifested seed of  the universe (sarvajnam iiswaram-sarva-saadhaarana-avyaakrta-jagat-bija-pravartakam niyatrutvaat antaryaami samjam bhavati); when it has the upadhis of the bodies and minds and sense organs, characterised by ignorance, desire and action, It is called the transmigrating individual  (samsaari jiva).   In TB 9, he defines Iswara as Brahman conditioned by Maya. (In VC, the synonyms of Maya are given as avyaakrta, avyakta, and ajnaana. (The word, prakriti is also a synonym. The term, pramaanam used in Sankhya philosophy also refers to the material cause of the universe, but there, it is as real as Brahman, whereas in Advaita, Maya is of a lower order of reality).

(b) In BSB 2.3.42 and BSB 3.2.38, while he deals with karmaphalam, he introduces it as the vyaavahaarika aspect of Brahman in the form of the division between the ruler and the ruled and says that the ordainer of karmaphalam is Iswara; logically, it is Iswara who is the ordainer of karmaphalam.  For it is He alone who presides over everything and because of his knowledge of the variegated environments, time and events involved in the process of creation, preservation and dissolution, He alone is in a position to ordain karmaphalam  in accordance with the karma of Jivas; the inequality in the karmaphalam of jivas is due to the differences in their karma; Iswara is only an instrument for apportioning karmaphalam in accordance with the karma of jivas and ( as he clarifies in BSB 2.1.34) there is no question of partiality or cruelty on the part of Iswara. In TB 9, Sankaracarya defines Iswara as Brahman conditioned by Maya

(c) In BSB 1.4.3, Sankaracarya refers to the power called avyakta without which the creatorship of the supreme God (parameswara) cannot be logically explained and to its subservience to and dependence on parameswara; the dependence of Maya on Brahman is mentioned also in Tattvabodha 7.1., 7.2 and 7.3, BSB 1.4.3 and BSB 1.2.12. In PB 105, he makes a distinction between Maya and Avidya; he says that Maya is dependent on Brahman and Avidya is dependent on jiva (maaya-brahmopagataa-avidya jiivaasraya prokta).

(d) Citing Mundakopanishad 2.1.2 and Swesvatara Upanishad 4.10 (‘Know Maya to be Prakriti and Maheswara, the great God to be maayii, the master of Maya, Sankaracarya reiterates Brahman’s superiority over avyakta which is the seed of nama roopa. The lower of reality of Maya is also indicated in his bhashyam on Mundakopanishad 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 1.2.1 and 1.2.2 – ‘The nature of this Maya is to be inferred from the fact of its being the limiting adjunct (upaadhi) of that higher Immutable – the Purusha….formless, birthless…without a second.

(e) In TB 7.1, Maya, depending for its existence on Brahman, is said to be of the nature of the three gunas, satva, rajas and tamas. In  VC  113, 115, 140,  141, 144, 145, 146 , Sankaracarya says that Maya brings forth the universe with moveable and immoveable (objects); he talks of    the  projecting power  (vikshepa sakti) of Maya, pertaining to rajas and the veiling power (aavarana sakti) of Maya, pertaining to tamas;    the vikshepa sakti is of the nature of activity ( i.e. creation of the world); it is also the cause of the wrong projection by jiva and the human activity and  jiva and the mental modifications like attachment, pain, grief, etc.; like raahu concealing the orb of the sun, the aavarana sakti envelops the infinite, eternal, non-dual Brahman; By ignorance caused by the aavarana sakti, man takes unreal things to be real and is caught up in bondage (samsaara).

(f) In VC 111 and PB 99   Sankaracarya says that    Maya is neither existent nor non-existent, neither different (from Brahman) nor non-different (from Brahman), neither with parts or without parts.  It is very wonderful and of a form which is inexpressible (sannapyasannaapyubhyaatmikaa no bhinnabhyabhinnaapyubhyaatmikaa no sangaapyaasangaapyubhayaatmiko no mahaatbhootaa-anirvacaniiyaroopaa).

(g)In VC 200, Sankaracarya says that Avidya and its effects are beginningless.

(h) That Maya is of a lower order of reality than Brahman is indicated by Sankaracarya in MUB 2.1.2 (Mu – “Purusha is transcendental…. He is pure and superior to the superior immutable  (divya hi      amoortah purushah sabaahyaantarah hi ajaah apraanah hi amanah subhrah hi aksharaat paratah parah) (MUB – akshara-naama roopa-bijopaadhi-lakshita-swaroopaaat  sarva-kaarya-karana-biijatvena-upalaksshyamaanatvaatt-param tattvam tat-upaadhi-lakshanam avyaakrtam-avyayam –aksharam sarva-vikaarebhyah tasmaat-paratah-aksharaat-parah nirupaadhikah purushah iti-arthah).     

(i)The unreality of the world i.e., the superimposed nama roopa is mithya, as distinguished from the adhishtaanam, Brahman, as Existence) is brought out in many parts of Sankaracarya’s commentaries and in his other works - e.g., BUB 2.1.20 - The relative conditions of the transcendent atma are erroneous, like the notion of that a crystal is red or any other colour owing to its association with its upadhis. US 17.13 – This universe is unreal. Existence-Consciousness alone is real. It is the forms only that are unreal. US 19.10 – Unreal like the circular form of a burning torch (alaatacakravat), superimposition has no existence independent of that of the non-dual Atma. BSB 2.1.33 – The Vedic statement of creation does not relate to any reality……such a text is valid only within the range of   activities pertaining to name and form conjured up by Avidya and the purpose is to teach the fact that everything  is Brahman. US 16.35 – All the modifications of Maya are to be understood to be unreal on the basis of Sastra which says that they are nothing but words. US 17.29, 30 – Just as a magician comes and goes on an elephant (created by his own magic), so also, Atma, though devoid of all motion, appears to  be undergoing conditions such as Hiranyagarbha, waking, dream, deep sleep etc., none of which has real existence.

3.   From a harmonious construction of what has been cited above,  we can conclude that according to Sankaracarya, the attributeless Brahman (nirguna Brahma) is neither the intelligent cause (nimitta kaaranam) nor the material cause (upaadaana kaaranam) of the universe; the intelligent cause of creation and the guiding factor  for Maya being the material cause of creation is a qualified Brahman (saguna brahma), Brahman with May as upaadhi; Maya is the material cause of creation, in the sense of seed of nama roopa evolving into manifested nama roopa and being superimposed (adhyastam, aropitam) on the reality, the nirguna Brahman.

2.  Jiva

  1. Sankaracarya’s description of jiva seems to the fore runner of all the three prakriyas. TUB 2.6.1, he talks of jiva as being perceived in the cavity of the intellect, as possessed of such distinctions as being a seer, a thinker, a knower etc. In BUB 2.1.14, he talks of Brahman conforming to upadhis, like space conforming to pots, jars, etc.  ( The example  of space in pot, jar, cave etc. is also given in BSB 1.1.5, BSB 2.3.7 and MUB 2.1.1 for the conditioning of the consciousness by the intellect whereas in US 12.1, he talks of the intellect as being pervaded by a semblance of pure consciousness. In US 5.4, he says that the modifications of the intellect are pervaded by the reflection of consciousness and in BUB 1.4.7, he says that atma is perceived in the as a reflection of sun etc, in water and the like. In PB 114, he says that the Pure Consciousness which is reflected in the intellect is called the jiva and the jiva causes the manifestation of (the sense) of “I” in the body. In PB 117 and 118, he says that just as the light of the sun which is reflected in the vessels made of bell metal and the like, having entered into the interior of a house, illumines other objects,    the reflection of pure consciousness in the intellects   which has become the jiva, illumines the objects outside through the paths of the eyes and other senses. In 4.3.7, he talks of atma imparting its luster to the intellect like an emerald dropped in milk. In MUB 3.2.7, both the comparison of pot space and reflection in sun, moon etc. in water appear in the commentary on the mantra which talks of the fifteen constituents of the body going back to their sources. The various terms that he uses are caitanya-pratibimba (reflection of consciousness – US 5.4, drasht-aabhaasa (semblance or false replica of the witness-consciousness – US 12.1, chaaya (shadow – US 14.33), caitanya aabhaasa (semblance or false replica of consciousness- US     ) atma-aabhaasa (semblance or false replica of atma) – US 18.53 aabhaasa (semblance or false replica) – US 18.107, 18.120).
  2. Even though it seems that Sankaracarya does not preclude from the teaching any of the three prakriyas, the weight seems to be in favor of aabhaasa vaada, and not pratibimba vaada or avacceda vaada. The extracts below would support this view. 
    (a) In BUB 1.4.7, the opponent asks” If Paramatma has entered, the jivas entered into being subject to samsaara, Paramatma will also become  subject to samsaara and will be happy, miserable and so on.  Sankaracarya’s answer is “No, the perception of (of misery) etc. are the objects of only the particular form that Paramatma takes owing to the Its being the support of Its upaadhi (i.e., the intellect.).
  3. In CUB 6.3.2, the opponent asks “Is it not incongruous  for  the omniscient Deity, not being a samsaari,  to deliberately wish and enter into the body and subject Itself to sorrow?” .The answer is “Yes,  if the Deity had desired ‘ I will enter in my unmodified form and I will experience sorrow’. But it is not so.  As the Upanishad states expressly, the ‘entry’ is in the form of several jivas. A Jiva is merely a semblance (aabhaasamaatram) of the Deity. …It is like the reflection of a person seeming to have entered into a mirror and like the sun in water etc. The contact of the Deity with the intellect results in a semblance of consciousness (Jivah hi naama devataayaa aabhaasa-maatram). ……The Deity does not Itself become connected with the human happiness, sorrow etc…..
  4. BUB 3.4.2 – The atma is the witness of vision. Vision is of two kinds, worldly and paaramaartika. Worldly vision is a mode of the mind…… It arises as a reflection of the atma. It has a beginning and an end
  5. In MUB 3.2.7, the atma consisting of knowledge identified with the intellect etc. entering the different bodies is talked about
  6. In PS 125, Sankaracarya asks, “When one vessel (made of bell metal and the like in which the light of the sun is reflected is broken by chance, does the sun perish? Des the sun become a moving object on account of the moving nature of the reflected image?”
  7. In BUB 2.4.12 and 2.4.13, (the commentary on the passage “na pretya samja asti”), in the dialogue between Maitreyi and Yajnavalkya, there is a clear distinction between the eternal, all pervading consciousness and the differentiated, individual consciousness (i.e., the objective consciousness). Yajnavalkya tells Maitreyi “In the one who is freed of the body-mind complex, there is no more the differentiated (i.e. individualized) consciousness such as ‘I am the son of so and so; this is my land and wealth; I am happy; I am miserable, because it is engendered by Avidya. Since Avidya is absolutely destroyed by knowledge of Brahman where is the possibility of differentiated consciousness for the knower of Brahman who is established in his nature as Brahman? Even when the body is there the particular consciousness is not there; where is the possibility of its being there, when he is absolutely freed of the body mind complex?” In BUB 2.4.13, Maitreyi says, “By talking of opposite features in the same entity, Brahman, you have confused me.” (Atra-eva ekasmin-eva ekasmin-vastuni brahmani viruddha-dharmarnatvam-acakshanena bhagavatah mama moha krtah….) Having said first that atma is homogenous (eternal) consciousness, then you say when the body dies, consciousness is no more there. How can it be homogeneous consciousness    and after death cease to be consciousness? (Poorvam-vijaanaghana eva-iti pratijnaaya punah na pretya samjna asti iti; katham vijnanaghana eva? katham va na pretya samjna asti it?).   Yajnavalkya’s significant reply is,” I did not attribute them to the same entity. You have mistaken the same entity to have opposite attributes. (Na maya idam ekasmin dharmini abhihitam. Tvayaa eva idam viruddha-dharmatvena-ekam vastu parihgrhiitam bhrantyaa) What I said was this: When the differentiated forms of the atma associated with the body mind complex engendered by Avidya is destroyed by knowledge,      the differentiated consciousness connected with the body mind complex characterized by a vision of otherness is destroyed when the upaadhi , the body mind complex  is dissolved, like the destruction of the reflection of moon and the reflected light etc when their support, water etc. are destroyed. But there is no destruction of the  transcendental Brahman, the  homogenous consciousness , just as there is no destruction of the  real moon etc. (Yasya-tu-avidya-prasrtyupaapitah-kaarya-karana-sambhandii-aatmanah-khilyabhaavah tasmin-vidyayaa nasite, tannimittaaa yaa viseshasamjnaa sariiraadi-sambhandinii- anyatva-darsana-lakshanaa, saa kaarya-karana-sanghaata-upadhou pravilapite nasyati hetu-abhaavaat udakadi-aadhaara-naasaad-iva candraadi-pratibimba- tvannimitta-ca-prakaasaadi. Na punah paramaartha-candraaditya-swaroopa-anaasavad-asamsaari-brahma-swaroopasya vijaanghnasya nasah)
  8. US 18.32, 18.33 – The semblance of the face is different from the mirror because it behaves as the mirror does. The face which does not depend on the semblance of the face is different from the semblance in the mirror. Similarly the reflection of atma is held to be different from atma. The ego is also regarded like the reflection of the face which is different from the face. The pure Self is considered to be different from its reflection like the face. (Mukhaat-anyah mukha-aabhaasah yatha adarsah anukaaratah. Aabhaasaat-mukham-api-evam-aadarsa- ananuvartanaat. Ahamkrti-aatamani-bhaasah mukha-aabhaasavat-ishyate.  Mukhavat-smrta aatma-anyah-avibktou tou tathaiva ca). In US 18.114, the semblance of consciousness in the intellect is compared to the appearance of snake on the rope.  US 18.37 - The reflection of the face (mukha aabhaasa) in the mirror is neither a property of the face nor of the mirror. If it were either, it would continue even if the other was removed. US 18.38 – It cannot be the property of the face, because it is not seen even when the face is there (and the mirror is removed). US 18.39 - It is not the property of both, because it is not seen when both are present (but improperly placed.) US 18.43 – The atma, Its reflection and the intellect are comparable to the face, its reflection and the mirror. The unreality of the reflection is known from the scriptures and reasoning. (Atma-aabhaasa-aasraya-ca-evam mukha-aabhasa-aasraya yatha. Gamyante sastra-yuktibhyaam-aabhaasa-asattvam-eva ca). US 18.114 – If you say that there will be changes in the intellect in case the reflection is accepted, we say ‘No’. For we have already said that the reflection of Consciousness in the intellect is an unreality like a snake appearing to be a rope and like the reflection of the face in the mirror appearing to be the face itself. (Aabhaase parinamah cet na rajjvaadi-nibhatvavat. Sarpaadi-ca tatha-avocaama-aadarse ca mukhatvavat).US 120 – The ego which is pervaded by the reflection of the Consciousness (aabhaasena sampvyaaptah) is called the knower or the agent of knowing. One who knows oneself (the sakshi) to be different from all these three (the agent, the object and the instrument) is a (real) knower of the atma.
  9. BSB 2.3.50 – It is to be understood that the jiva is only a semblance of Paramatma like the sun in water. The (empirical) Jiva is not the atma itself. (Aabhaasa eva ca esha jivah paramaatmanah jalasooryaadivat-pratipattavyah na sa eva saaakshaat). US 18.27 – On account of the constant proximity of the atma (the consciousness described in US 18.26 as self-effulgent, seer, the innermost, Existence, free from actions, directly cognized, the Self of all, Witness, One imparting consciousness to others, Eternal, devoid of qualities and  non-dual) , the ego becomes its semblance (samnidhou sarvadaa tasya syat tat aabhaasah abhimaanakrt).

Section 2 - Sureswaracarya

1. Creation

  1. Brahman is non-dual, eternal, and changeless and is neither cause nor effect. It is the cause of time. It has no parts. There is no material external to Brahman working on which Brahman can create anything. Brahman has no organs of perception and is devoid of intellect, desire and will. To talk of creation of the universe by Brahman of such a nature is illogical (TUBV II. 140, 142,143,144,375, BUBV Vol.,2.4.244, M II 54). The Sruti (Kathopanishad 1.2.14) which says that nothing originates from atma nor does the atma originate from anything negates (the idea that atma is the) cause etc. ( BUBV Vol. 1 - 2.4.24).To imagine in Parameswara, in the One Self-luminous Existence, the relation of cause and effect is like imagining the head of Rahu. (M.VIII. 5-6).Plurality of forms is not tenable for Brahman which is without parts. (TUBV II 375).
  2. Brahman, in Itself, is not the cause of the universe nor is It the inner controller (antaryaamin) or the witness of the world process. Without avidya, desire cannot arise. Brahman can be the cause of the universe only when Brahman is considered as having the upaadhi 'of ajnana (avidya, Maya). It is nama roopa that constitutes the limiting adjunct (upaadhii) ofParameaswara. (BUBV2.4.1O). Iswara is a semblance (aabhaasa) of Brahman¬consciousnes in Avidya also known as Maya (BUBV 3.7.43,44). Iswara, the semblance of Brahma caitanyam in Maya, is the cause of the universe, is the Inner Controller and is the witness of the world process. Iswara is omniscient (sarvajna) and omnipotent (sarv3saktimaan). Having deliberated, Iswara created the universe, taking into consideration the proper order, colour, previous karma of all beings (TUBV 373~. Iswara's creation of the universe is all a display of Maya. Ajnana is the material cause of the universe. From Maya, with Brahma caitanyam reflected in it (maayaam- pratibirnba- anusangatah) .. ..jivas come into being. Avidya with a semblance of Brahma caitanyam (caitanya-aabhaasastha) is the cause of sthoola and sukshma sariras. Primary avidya (moola avidya) appears as the manifest and the unmanifest. (BUBV, 5 -1.4.1, I - 1.2.27, 1-12.26, TUBV II 373;377, IvIII 56, M II 32), Pranava-vartika 39.
  3. The world which is composed of names and forms has no existence of its own. Brahman is existence. The existence in all phenomenal things proceed from the eternal Iswara. Everything has its being in the being of atma. The names and forms - ahamkaara and other objects - are superimposed on Bralunan. The gross and the subtle (vyaavahaarika satyam) and the illusory like the mirage (praatibhaasika satyam) have sprung from avidya. (TUBV II 407,408,416,417,418, M III 2,3, NS II 45). That is real which never attains another form different from that in which it has once been known. (NS iII.56). Since this universe along with the ego appears and disappears, it is false. (NS II. 95) It should be known through reasoning that the world of duality which is a false appearance, which has no reality of its own, which is caused by avidya and defies understanding, is different from atma ( NS II. 44)
  4. From the extracts given above, we can say that, according to Sureswacarya, the cause of the universe is not nirguna Brahman but Iswara, constituted by the semblance of Brahma caitanyam in Maya which is mithya. The reality is Brahman as existence. The mithya names and forms displayed by Maya are superimposed on Brahman, the reality, the existence. Iswara who is omniscient and omnipotent is the intelligent cause of creation.

2.   Maya

  1. Maya is designated as Pradhana, A vyakta, A vidya, Ajanana, Akshara, A vyakrta, Prakrti and . Tamas. C1'1 iI.31). The name 'Maya' is given to an appearance which cannot be accounted for ,Maya is a thing that defies understanding (avicaritasiddha) (BUVB 1.4.332,444; 2.3.224 NS sambandhokti 1.1.) It is not non-existent because it appears; It is not existent because it is negated.(M. VIII.13). It is mithya. It is not different from Brahman inasmuch as it is located in Brahman. Nor is it. non-different from Brahman, because Brahman is non-dual and avidya is not a real entity. It is said to be notrnade of parts, because no parts caused it. It is not devoid of parts because its effects are made up of parts. (M.VIII. 15). (pranava-vartika 39-43). It is beginningless (anaadi) (in the sense that its beginning is not in time and it has no cause) (NS Introduction to Chapter I, M VIII 13, 15, Pranava-vartlka 39-43, BHBV Vol. 2¬4.3.5). Ajnaana is the material cause of (upadhaana kaaaranam) of the universe, the false appearance of duality (BUBV 1 -1.4371). \~'hatever exists is manifested by avidya. Sruti clearly says so, vide Swetasvatara Upanishad, " Understand that Prakriti is Maya and that Maheswara is the possessor of Maya. (BUBV vol. 1- 1..4.382). Avidya, though not really existing, appears as name and fomm (BUBV .1 - 1.2). Primary avidya (mooIa avidya) continuously appears in the fonn of the manifest and the unmanifest (BUBV 1 -1.2.5.).

3.  Locus and content of Maya

  1. Any mithya has to have a real sub-stratum (adishtaanam). Not-Sdf (anaatma) is mithya. And it is a product of Maya. Cause is antecedent to effect. Therefore anatma cannot be the locus of Maya. Apart from anaatma, there is only Brahman and Brahman is satyam and, being eternal, It is not an effect. Therefore Brahman alone is the locus of Maya. (I1JBV II 64, Introduction to NS Third Chapter). . Brahman is also the content of Ajaanam( Avidya).
  2. Anaatma cannot be the content of ignorance because it is a product of ignorance. What is a product cannot be the content of its cause. If anaatma was the content of ignorance, when ignorance is removed by knowledge, knowledge would be tantamount to knowledge of anaatma and not knowledge of atma.. Falsdy perceived silver is the product of shell. Silver is not the content of ignorance of shell. It is shell the ignorance of which is removed when silver is negated. \Vhat is concealed from jiva is Brahman. For these reasons, Brahman alone is the content of Ajnaana. (paraphrase ofIntroduction to Chapter III ofNashkarmyasiddhi).

4.  Debate in  regard to the locus and content of Maya 

  1. Objection: Brahman cannot be the locus of Maya (A vidya), because (a) Brahman is of the nature of knowledge, whereas A vidya is of the nature of ignorance and (b) Brahman is without a second.

    Answer: W'hen we talk of locus of Avidya, we are not referring to knowledge as the opposite of ignorance (pramaana jnaanam) but to consciousness which is Brahman's nature (swaroopa jnaanam). Swaroopa jnanam is not opposed to. ignorance. It is pramaana jnaanam that is opposed to ignorance. As for the second objection, A vidya is only a superimposition on Brahman; it is not a real entity. So the question of non-duality of Brahman being violated does not arise.
  2. Objection: Brahman cannot be the content of Avidya> because ignorance> like knowledge, is in someone and it is about something else. So, locus and content have to be different. If Brahman is the locus, the same Brahman cannot be the content. Since Brahman is partless, you cannot even say that one part of Brahman is the locus and another part is the content.

    Answer: Jnanottama, the commentator of Manasollasa, provides the answer. It is a matter of common experience for us to say« I know myself' and also" I do not know myself'. Thus, the content of knowledge or ignorance and the person who has it are the same entity. "I know myself" , as applied to anna, means that the existence and conscious aspect are known ( - no one can deny that one exists and that one is a conscious being) and " I don't know myself' means that the non-duality and bliss aspects are not known. So the view that ajnaana is not only located in hut has Brahman as its content is tenable.

5.     Jiva

(The distinction between the changing consciousness and the changeless conscxiousness is also discussed in this portion)

  1. He, the Supreme Lord, the Magician, having created the universe through Maya, entered that very universe in the same way as a garland (1s said to enter) the illusory serpent> etc. (TOBV II 378). Brahman which is without differentiation is cognised in this (the intellect) which is thesource of all differentiation. Since in the luminous intellect we perceive Brahman as the seer, hearer and so on, due to illusion (mohaat) the entry by Brahman is imaginarily suggested by Sruti Hence, the entry of Brahman into the intellect is an imaginary representation. It is not conveyed in the literal sense. (rUBV II 397, 398).. The entry of one who by nature cannot have entered (into the universe) is stated in such a way as if it has entered with a view to teach the oneness of atma and Brahman by discarding the distinction between kshetrajna (sakshi) and Iswara,(TUBV401). The non-dual reality appears through avidya in the fonns of kshetranja (sakshi) and Iswara. (TUBV 530).
  2. Plurality of fonns in the real sense is not valid for Brahman which is impartible, The pur;ility is an apparent plurality (I1JBV II 375). By removing avidya, we must realise the oneness of kshetranga and Iswara. The non-dual Seer (atma) appears as many in several bodies, because of the presence of the antahkarana.
  3. Just as a rope appears in the fonn of a snake through avidya, though it is not really competento become that, so also, atrna appears as the jiva consisting of the five sheaths (pancakosas) and suffers, as, it were, in the form of jiva (TOBV II 250). The distinction
    between jivatrna and paramatrna is caused by the upaadhi of the body. (M III.9).
  4. The "J" does not exist without the atma; Without the atma, it will cease to be. (The "I" cannot exist on its own. It is mithya; \vithout its sub-stratum, it will cease to be ( NS II 56 ).If, in the objective consciousness, the thinker were not to manifest himself as "I" the whole world be like one asleep. (1'.1. IV 2). If the insentient objects were to shine by themselves, everything would present itself to everyone's consciousness. (M IV 4-5). If the sentient and the insentient be alike self-luminous, each will perceive and, in turn, be perceived by the other and so on.. And the sense organs, being unrestricted in their scope of perception, taste would be known by the eye and so on. (M IV 5-6).
  5. Ignorance of atma on the part of jiva is the root cause of suffering. Ignorance conceals bliss which is the nature of atma, (Introduction to N.S. Chapter I).Though the Inner Self (pratyagatrna) whose light ever shines and never sets is the ,vitness of a'\;.dya, it is nevertheless obstructed by avidya, (rUBV II 438). Just as the mirror is dimmed by a stain attaching to it, so consciousness is veiled by avidya and, thereby creatures are deluded. (Ajnaanena-aavrtam jnaanamtenamuhyantijantavah).(M. III. 8). Maya is responsible for non-apprehension (agrahana or ajaaana), misapprehension (anyathaa jnaana or vipariitajnaana) and doubtfuJ cognition (samsayajnaana). Misapprehension is the result of non-apprehension. (BUVB 1.4..)
  6. Like a rope becoming a serpent through avidya, separating himself from the non-dual¬Brahma caitanyarn, through avidya,jiva makes himself an agent and enjoyer. (TIJBV II 463). The text "When there is duality, as it were. . . .one knows something" (Brhadaranyaka 2.4.14) etc,.have conveyed to us that the notion of duality (dwaya-aabhaasam) in the form of enjoyment and enjoyershiop is caused byavidya. (TIJBV III. 68). Owing to the conceit (abhimaana) " I am the knower", the jiva, indeed, performs the acts of cognition. Again, on account of the delusion" I ani the thinker", he does all mental activities". (TUBV II 225).
  7. By ignorance, attributes of the insentient, unreal and the finite body are ascribed to the conscious atma and the reality, consciousness and bliss of atma are ascribed to the body, just as the mother of pearl is mistaken for silver which is quite a different thing.. (M VII 21-22). The following is said with a view to showing how, owing to avidya, there is mutual
    superimposition between the atrma which is self-established (swata-siddhah) and the not-self (anaatma) which is established by another (parata-siddhah) , in the same way as there is mutual superimposition between the empirical rope and the (illusory) snake:-:
    Just as the movement of clouds is superimposed on the moon, even so the qualities of the intellect such as pleasure are thought of as in the atma. (NS 101). Just as an ignorant man ascribes the burning nature of the fire to the (red-hot) iron, even so consciousness which belongs to the atma is ascribed to the agent (i.e. the internal organ - antahkarana) due to delusion. (NS II 102) All this false appearance (aabhaasa) is due to delusion (avidya) (moha¬maatra-upaadhaanatvaat). (NS 51). All our mundane experience iis a display of Maya (M.VIII.12).
  8. The ego-consciousness, the feeling of mineness (aham-mamatvam) and desire are not the attributes of atma, for they are experienced as objective and and they are subject to cessation NSII 22).
  9. Without change there can be no sufferer. How can that which changes be the witness (of the changes)? Therefore, the atma is the unchanging witness to the thousand modifications of the mind (NS II 77).to. The mind cognises objects by fragments. If it does not change in this manner, it will be omniscient like the atma (NS n. 87).
  10. The atma is the witness to the momentary modifications of the mind. Indeed in the absence of the immutable consciousness, the appearance and disappearance of the mind cannot be established. (NS II 82)
  11. The intellect which contains the semblance of atma caitanyam is the agent (karta); atma is not the agent, because It is immutable. (Atmacaitanyaroopa dhii kartru na dhruvavtatah) (TUBV II 308). The agency of the unchanging atma is an illusion, in the same way as the ascription of motion to the trees is an illusion due to the movement of the boat (NS II 63)
  12. The body, the senses, the mind and the determinative modes of the intellect are rejected as not-Self, because they are perceived and are subject to origination and cessation The internal organ (antahkarana) which has the 'I' notion also is perceived and appears and disappears; it is also, therefore, not-Self (anaatma) (NS II 82).
  13. The intellect which contains the semblance of atma caitanyam is the agent (karta); atma is not the agent, because it is immutable (NS II 63). If the 'I' notion was an attribute of the atma, it would be eternal, like the atma; that is, it will continue during sushupti and even in
    the state of liberation.
  14. Knowledge and ignorance which inhere in the mind are cognised. Therefore neither is the attribute of the atma; they belong to the sphere of name and form (fUBV II 578).
    16. Brahman, in Itself, is not the individual cogniser (pramaata) or agent (karta), or enjoyer (bhokta). These are characteristics of the jiva, constituted by the semblance of consciomsnes in the intellect. (BUVB. 5 (1) 4 (1).
  15. If the ego is an attribute of anna, it would be eternal, like consciosness (Braluna-caitanyam) and continue, not only in deep sleep, but in liberation and scriptural texts which speak of liberation (from duality) will certainly become futile. Since it does not continue, the ego must belong to something else ( ie. the mind - NS II.32, 33).
  16. The object of being burnt and the agency that bums co-exist in the fire and the fuel. In the same way, the property of being the knower and that of being the object known coexist in the knlower ands the ego ( NS III 59).
  17. One who wakes up from deep sleep says, "I did not know anything in sleep". Here, the term, "I", signifies the Paramatma, as the ego is suspended in sleep. (NS II 54).
  18. Viewing the atma as conditioned by the agency of the adjuncts (upaadhis) such as the intellect which are caused by ajnaanam, it was said, on the basis of anvaya-vyatireka that the notions of "1 am happy", "1 am miserable" etc. of the ego are the qualities of the not-sdf (anaatma). If it is accepted that the atma is unconditioned, It cannot be involved in any experience, for it is not fit enough for that; nor can any &uit accrue to It. Now, by presupposing the witness-nature (saakshitvam) of the atma which is a pmjection of avidya, the following is said with a view to denying (of the atma) all kinds of transformation such as agency:-
    There is no such thing as the act of illumination. The approach of the object to be illumined within its range is figurativdy spoken of as the act of illumination on the part of the atma.
    (NS II. 68 ).
  19. Question: If the atma in all bodies is one, would not a person who has realised the atma not experience the sufferings of all ? Answer: Even prior to gaining knowledge of our real nature as atma, the suffering in other bodies does not affect us. How can it affect a person who has disidentified ...vith the suffering of his own body? (NS II 90).
  20. Jiva is it semblance ofBrahma caitanyam (cit-aabhaasa) in the intellect. An aabhaasa is different from the original but is resembles the original (cidvilakshanatve sati cidvat¬bhaasamaanatvam cidaabhaasatvam) (BlJBV 4.3.1320).
    1. Nescience (avidya) blended with a semblance of atrna caitanyam is the cause of sthoola and suksma swas (Caitanya-aabhaasaswacittamm sariiradwaya-kaaranam). (pranava-vartika
    2. The mind has the power of cognizing owing to the influence of that unchanging consciousness (NS III.IS). The atma which does not see... .does not change.. ..does not hate,
      does not get angry, does notsuffer, does not enjoy unmoving, is timeless, immutable, is relative, id the inner undivided Reality and is infinite perceives in all bodies the mind which sees, hears, desires,hates, gets angry, suffers, enjoys, . .is subject to time, past, present and
      future, perishes every moment, is relative... ..and is finite (NS II 71-75). A radiant jewel remains changelessly the same, whether (it is illuminimg) an object like pot when it is in its proximity and (it is not illumining) when the pot is not its proximity (NS II 64, 65). In the same way, the supreme Self (paramatma) which is of the nature of illumination, remains immutable in the presence as well as in the absence of the modifications of the intellect (NS II 66). The unchanging I is the wi?1ess of the thousand modifications of the mind (NS II
  21. This seer of inextinguishable and undivided awareness witnesses the insentient dance of the operations of all the minds, though in reality there is no such thing as the act of witnessing on his part (NS II 58).
    A radiant jewel remains changelessly the same, whether it is illumining an object like the pot when it is its proximity or not illumining it when it is not in is proximity. Like that, Paramatma, remaining immutable in the presence as well as the absence of the modifications of the intellect reveals (illumines) the intellect. (NS II 66). In the atma, there is no such thing
  22. Talking of jiva, Sureswacarya uses all the three terms - 'aabhaasa', 'pratibitnba' and 'conditioning of Brahma caitanyam' - while defining jiva as, seen from the extracts given below
    1. Like unto a clear mirror, the intellect (buddhi) because of its predominance of sattva in it and in virtue of the reflecction of atma in it receives images of external objects. (1-'lanasollasa
      IV.8,9 ).
    2. Jiva is a semblance ofBrahma caitanyam (cit-aabhaasa) in the intellect. An aabhaasa is different from the original but is resembles the original (cidvilakshanatve sati cidvat-bhaasamaanatvam cidaabhaasatvam) (BUBV 4.3.1320).
    3. The non-dual Seer (atma) appears to be many in several bodies, because of the presence of the internal organ (antahkarana), just as the sun appears to be many in different water vessels (NS II 47).
    4. As the space within a jar is marked off from the infinite space by the upaadhi of the jar, so is the distinction between jivatma and Paramatma caused by the upaadhi of the body (M III 9).
    5. Manifesting Himself by way of reflection (pratibimbe sphuran) in the kriya-sakti and jnaanasaktii, in the antahkarana, the Lord (Iisah) is spoken of as the doer and knower. (M IV
  23. However the preference of Sureswaracarya is, like Sankaracarya's, seems to be  aabhaasa vaada which in essence is the positing of a secondary consciousness, which functions along with the mind and is of a lower order of reality than Paramatma, the eternal uncchanging consciousness. We have to infer this since the teaching is a combination of a sakshi being aware of the modifications of the mind and the absence of any such thing as the act of illumination on the part of the atma as the act of illumination. The approach of the object to be illumined within its range of illumination is figuratively spoken of as the act of illumination. (NS 67).

Section 3 -   Vidyaranya

1.  Creation.  Jiva

  (The numbers in brackets are references to Vidyaranya’s Pancadasi)

    1. According to Vidyaranya, it is not the paaramaartika nirguna Brahman (the absolute Brahman devoid of attributes) who is the creator of the universe but it is a vyaavahaarika mithya saguna Iswara (an empirical mithya entity, with attributes, called Iswara) who is the creator. Citing Tu .1 and 1.4 ( satyam jnaanam anantam brahma and yato vaco nivartante apraapya manasaa sahaa) to establish the transcendental nature (asangatvam) of Brahman and another sruti “ Controlling Maya, the master of Maya , creates the universe through Maya “ (maayii srjati visvam as Mayii srjati visvam sanniruddha tatra mayayaa…….tena iiswara srjet), he says that if you analyse Sruti passages applying the six fold criteria (shadlinga like upakrama and upasamhaara), you will come to know that it is not the transcendental (asanga) Brahman but Maheswara, the master of Maya ( Maayaavi Maheswarah) who creates the universe (6.195, 196,197).
    2. Vidyaranya talks of Prakriti as an entity which has the three qualities (gunas), satva (the quality of knowledge, purity and goodness), rajas (the quality of activity and passion) and tamas (the quality of darkness, ignorance, illusion and error) and which is equipped with a reflection of Brahman. Prakriti has three varieties, one, suddha satva (satva  predominant variety) called Maya, visuddhi satva guna or malina satva  (rajas tamas predominant variety) called Avidya and three, tamas predominant variety, called Tamas. Maya with the reflection of Brahman-Bliss-consciousness (cidaanandamayabrahma) becomes the omniscient, blissful Iswara, the (sarvajna aanandamaya iiswara). Maya is under Iswara’s control. The intellect, dominated by Avidya, with the reflection of Brahman-consciousness (Brahma caitanyam) becomes the jiva, the knower-consciousness (vijaanamaya jiva). Owing to gradations of Avidya, jivas are of different species  (1.15, 16,17,4.11, 6.157, and 6.212). Vidyaranya compares, respectively, the all pervading Brahman, Maya, Iswara, atma (called kootastha), the all pervading consciousness available in the individual and the jiva to the all pervading space, the cloud, the space reflected in the water in the cloud, the space in the pot and the space reflected in the water in the pot. Maya is compared to the cloud. (6-18).
    3. Iswara visualises creation according to the requirement  of the karma of jivas, and, directed by Iswara,  Tamas modifies from seed form and  produces names and forms (nama roopa) consisting of the five elements , the subtle bodies of jivas (sukshma sarira) with   the five organs of knowledge (jnaanendriyas), the five organs of action (karmendriyas), the fivefold vital airs (praana), and the antahkarana comprising the manas and buddhi ( roughly, the deliberation and decision aspects of the mind and intellect), the physical body of jivas (sthoola sarira), the various worlds and objects of the universe (jagat). This creation flowing from Iswara consists in Maya unfolding the unmanifest       nama roopa (avyaakrta nama roopa), and superimposing the manifest nama roopa (vyaakrta nama roopa) on Brahman the Existence , like a picture of  variegated colours being painted on a wall or like imagined things such as wondrous cities  (gandharvanagara), blueness and dome-like shape being superimposed on space. Not only nama roopa like the five elements and their products, but space and time are also superimposed by Maya. The folding and unfolding of nama roopa by Maya, (aavirbhaavam, srshti) and the alternating dissolution (viliinam, pralaya), controlled by Iswara, is like a painter exposing the painting he has executed on a canvas and then folding it up. ( 1.16 t0 26,2.59, 2. 60 et seq., 3.36, 4.6 to 8, 123 to 125,  6.131, 183).The non-dual Brahman (advaitam) alone is real. The dwaitam (the nama roopa superimposed by Maya on Brahman, the Existence) is unreal. (6.155, 156)... Similarly, cidaabhaasa with the physical and subtle body is a superimposition (adhyaasa) on kootastha, like the silver seen on shell. (6.33). Negation (baadha) consists in the determination of the mithya nature (mithyaatvam) of jagat and jiva (i.e. the antahkarana cidaabhaasa mixture) and the reality (satyatvam) of Paramatma. (6.12, 13, 14).
    4. Vidyaranya says that Maya’s nature is that it can do the impossible; it makes the non-existent appear as existent. It makes the changeless transcendental atma (kootastha asanga atma) (Brahman) appear as Iswara jiva and jagat.  The phenomenon is like the mithya dream world appearing to be real to the one who dreams. The phenomenon of  the animate and the inanimate universe like Iswara, jiva etc. appearing on the non-dual Brahman  (advidiiya brahmatattve)  Iswara, jiva and jagat has no more reality than the mithya dream is to the person who has woken up(2-70, 6-133, 134, 211,). Considering the in determinability of Maya, learned people declare Maya to be just magic. (6.143). Pursuing this line of thought, Vidyaranya says that the aanandamaya Iswara and the vijaanamaya jiva are conjured up (kalpitou) by Maya and, in turn, Iswara conjures up the creation, visualising and entering it and jiva conjures up, until liberation, samsaara in  waking and dream states (6.112,113). 
    5. Vidyaranya talks of Maya as the power of Brahman (Brahma-sakti) (2-47) and as resting on Brahman (brahma-aasraya) (2-59). However, he clarifies that it is different from Brahman (which is the non-dual existence), has no existence of its own (so said to be unreal – nistattva). It derives existence only from its association with Brahman. It cannot be said to be absolutely non-existent because the nama roopa, the products from which it is inferred, are experienced by us.  (2.47 to 2.51). Thus, from the point of view of sruti) i.e., from the paaramaartika standpoint, Maya is non-existent. If you go by reasoning, it is anirvacaniiya i.e. you can neither say that it is existent nor can you say that it is non-existent. From the vyaavahaarika point view it exists, since its products are perceived (tucca anirvacaniiyaa ca vaastavii cet asou tridha; jneyaa maayaa tribhirbodhaiih sroutayouktikaloukikaih) (6-130).  Since Maya does not have independent existence, like non-existence, it is not counted as a second entity, apart from the non-dual Brahman (2.51)
    6. Maya called Maheswari on account of its association with the great God (Maheswara) has a two fold power¸ the power of projection (nirmaana sakti, vikshepa sakti) and the power of veiling (moha sakti, aavarana sakti). (4.12, 6-26). ). Jiva is a mixture of the adhishtaanam, the Brahma caitanyam, the sukshma-sarira and the reflection of consciousness in it (4-11). Deluded by the aavarana sakti of Maya, jiva becomes ignorant of his true nature as Brahman (ignorant of ‘aham brahma asmi’). By its vikshepa sakti, Maya makes the jiva identify with his bodies, the physical and the subtle (sthoola and sukshma), deprived of the awareness of the transcendental asanga kootastha, pratyagaatma ( Jiva’s own consciousness, which is the same as Brahman-consciousness, Brahma caitanyam) (like the adhyaasa of taking the shell to be silver), react with external objects and other jivas (paragdarsinah), regarding himself as different from all and is involved in  a chain of action, enjoyment and suffering and transmigration (which is called samsaara) (1-25, 29,30; 6.23, 24,25, 26, 27, 6-33, 34 6,36, 6-134). Iswara’s creation is related to the karma of all jivas taken together.  Iswara-srshti, the universe of objects created by Iswara is the same for all. But jiva-srshti the mental reaction to them, likes and dislikes of and the attitude to other beings and things and the consequent action, enjoyment and suffering vary from individual to individual, based on that Jiva’s past karma and upaasana and his vaasana, the imprint of experience of past janmas and exercise of free will in the current janma. It is not Iswara srshti but jiva srshti that is the cause of man’s bondage. Vidyaranya cites Brhadaranyaka Upanishad saptaanna braahmana - the past karma and upaasana is four-fold sacrifices and offerings ( action and thought towards ancestors, gods, other human beings and other jivas like plants, animals, insects etc.;) this becomes the karma of jivas consisting of  punyam or paapam as, the case may be, depending on the good or bad action, thought and attitude;  the bhogyam of karmaphalam, the experience of happiness and sorrow in return for the past karma, is through the particular medium with which one is , in the form of the mind (manah), vital force (praana) and speech (vaak),  equipped with, in the current janma. (4.13 to 35).
    7. Dealing with the question as to how Avidya and its aavarana sakti can appear on kootastha which is self-effulgent (swaprakaasa) Vidyaranya says that Kootastha caitanyam is not inconsistent with Avidya and its aavarana sakti. If caitanyam and Avidya were opposed, who would be subject to the aavarana sakti (of Avidya)? As we see in the jnaani, it is the discriminative knowledge (viveka), knowledge of Brahman that is opposed to Avidya. (6.28,31,32.).  [The idea is that, without kootastha caitanyam which is only another name for  Brahma caitanyam which is  the adhishtaanam( 6.237), the mithya Maya and its aavarana sakti cannot exist. Without kootastha caitanyam, there is no cidaabhaasa. Just as the aavarana sakti and vikshepa sakti of Maya are responsible for Jiva’s ignorance of Brahmatvam and his samsaara, it is  Jiva’s antahkarana with cidaabhaasa that is responsible for jiva coming to know (through Sastra) Maya and its powers and negating Maya as mithya. In short, whereas kootastha and Maya are not opposed, knowledge of kootastha and Maya are opposed.)    Dwaitam (which, as a technical term refers to the universe of nama roopa) being the product of the mithya Maya is not opposed to advaitam (Brahman) (6.245, 246), because dwaitam is unreal and advaitam is real. Entities of different orders of reality can co-exist. A bachelor can go to sleep and have a dream that he has a wife and has a number of children and grandchildren.]
    8. Iswara is the antaryaami (Inner Controller) in jivas. From this, one may think that the actions and thoughts are controlled by Iswara,   (whose control is in accordance with the praarabdha of jivas) and that jivas have no free will. Vidyaranya says that, by the grace of Iswara, Jivas do have free will and it is by free will that they gain the knowledge of their identity with atma and attain moksha (6.157, 171,177,178,179,183)

Vacaspati Misra - Avacceda vaada - Bhavati Tradition  (Bhamati Sampradaaya)

2.     Creation

    1. Following Sankaracarya and Sureswaracarya, Vacaspati Misra rules out nirguna Brahman being the material cause actually transforming as the universe, since Brahman, according to sruti, is non-dual and immutable. He says that if the universe was an actual transformation of Brahman, (Brahman being consciousness) all objects of the universe -not merely jivas - would be sentient. So, Brahman is only an apparent material cause (vivarta upaadhaana kaaranam). He makes a distinction between unconditioned Brahman (nirupaadhika Brahman) and conditioned Brahman (sopaadhika Brahman). Owing to the upaadhi of avidya (Maya), Brahman acquires the attributes of omniscience and omnipotence. . (Sat eva muktah sat eva kevalah; anaadi avidya-vasaa-tu bhrantyaa tathaa avabhaasata iti arthah. Tat eva anoupaadhikam roopam darsayitva avidya-upaadhikam roopam aaha – sarvajnam sarvasakti-samanvitam (B on BSB 1.1.1). This sopaadhika Brahman called Iswara is the material and intelligent cause of the universe. Maya is the upaadhi of Iswara and the intellects are the upaadhis of jivas. .   Maya is beginningless and indefinable (anirvacaniiya).
    2. Vacaspati Misra talks of the indeterminability of the universe (anirvacaniiyatvam) giving the analogy of the mirage. Is the cognition of water appearing in the rays of the sun reflected from the desert sand real or not? If it was real, it would not be negated. But we do negate it, when we reach the spot where we perceived it and find that there is no water.  At the same time we cannot absolutely deny the existence of the water, because water was cognized. The experience of the perception of water, qua experience, cannot be negated. Thus, the mirage is neither existent nor non-existent nor existent-cum-non-existent. Similarly, the universe of objects, bodies and organs are also, indescribable as existent or non-existent. Brahman’s absoluteness (paaramaartika satyam) is proved by scripture and reasoning. The objects, bodies, sense organs and intellects (antahkarana) of the universe are superimposed on Brahman owing to Avidya. The sub-stratum of this superimposed mithya world is Brahman, just as the rope is the sub-stratum of the erroneously perceived snake. . Avidya, in the form of superimposition, is indeterminable  (Mithya-pratyaya-roopah mithya-pratyayaaanam roopam anirvacaniiyatvam; tadyasya sa tadokthah anirvacaniiya ityarthah.)

3.  Jiva

    1. Jiva is not different from Atma (Brahman) or nor is jiva a modification of Brahman. Jiva is Brahma caitanyam itself appearing to be limited owing to the influence of avidya (Na jiva aatmanah anyah. Na api tat vikaarah. Kintu atma eva avidya upaadhaana kalpita avaccedah) (B on BSB 1.4.22.) Avidya operates at the empirical (vyaavahaarika plane), through its dual power of concealment (aavarana) and projection (vikshepa). Jivas are at the mercy of the concealing and projecting powers of Avidya. Iswara, being its Lord is not affected by avidya. . The concealing power of avidya gives rise to the non-apprehension of the identity of jivas with Brahman. The consciousness in the body mind complex is wrongly apprehended as finite just as space (apparently) enclosed in pots etc is apprehended as the limited space. Brahman is homogenous, undifferentiated consciousness, but, owing to the qualities superimposed by avidya, It appears as differentiated objectifying intellects and as numerous limited individuals.

4.  Avidya – Content and locus

    1. Like other Advaita philosophers, Vacaspati Misra also says that the content of avidya is Brahman It is due to the influence of avidya that jivas, forgetting the identity of Brahma caitanyam and pratyagaatma, regard the enclosed pratyagatma to be a limited individual knower-consciousness and themselves to be limited individuals.
    2. As regards locus of avidya Vacaspati Misra holds that Jiva is the locus of moola avidya. His argument is that it is only the jiva who is the agent (karta), the enjoyer (bhokta), the one who has the notion of “I” (ahamkaara-aaspada), the transmigrator (samsaari) and the victim of all suffering (sarva-anartha-bhaajanam). Therefore jiva alone can be the locus of the avidya which is the root cause of all these. On the other hand, Brahman is pure (suddha), defect less (niranjana) and is of the nature of knowledge (vidyaatma). Therefore it is illogical to speak of Brahman as the locus of avidya. Further, it is the jiva, not Brahman, who requires the saving knowledge for removing avidya. Logically, the destroyer, vidya and the destroyed, avidya, must have the same locus.
    3. According to Vacaspati Misra, avidya is not one. there are as many avidyas as there are jivas. If avidya was a single entity, then when one jiva attains the knowledge ‘I am Brahman’ (aham brahmaasmi jnaanam), the single avidya will be removed and, there being no avidya to delude other jivas, all jivas will be simultaneously liberated, without any effort on their part. He explains the use of “Maya” in singular in Su 4.10 by interpreting it as the state of being deluded by avidya (avidyaatva).
    4. The objection raised against this is “If avidya which is the cause of jivas and is responsible for hiding their Brahmatvam from jivas is located in the jivas, there arises the defect of mutual dependence (anyonya asraya).  What is a product of avidya cannot be its locus. Vacaspati Misra’s answer is “there is a succession of janmas; my present janma is due to the ignorance located in me in my previous janma and the ignorance located in me in the present janma will produce my next janma; thus, there are two beginningless series, one of janmas and the other of ignorance. So there is no defect of anyonya asraya.”

Section 4 – Vivarana Sampradaaya

1. Creation

    1. Prakasatman cites Tu 31.1., 2.7.1 and Cu 6.2.3 which talk of Brahman as the material and intelligent cause of the universe and goes on to point out the difficulties in regarding nirupaadhiika Brahman as the transformative material cause or the intelligent cause. Brahman can be the material cause only if It undergoes modification into the form of the world, leaving its earlier form. Even if it is argued that, after undergoing modification into the form of the world, Brahman would regain its earlier form, since it will retain its susceptibility to modification, we have to face the unwelcome prospect of liberated jivas returning to bondage again.  But we have the Upanishadic text, “The atma (Brahman) is birthless, all pervasive and immutable” (Bu 4.4.20). Immutability and modification cannot be the nature of the same entity. It follows that nirupaadhika Brahman cannot be the material cause of the universe (V. p. 464). As regards, Brahman being the intelligent cause, only an entity with a thinking mind which can visualize and design the universe can be the intelligent cause. But this process is not possible in the case of Brahman which Sastra says is of the nature of consciousness devoid of instruments of visualisation and action (Bu 3.8.8. etc.). Therefore nirupaadhika Brahman cannot be the intelligent cause of the universe, either.  Therefore, Prakasatman says that Sruti and Smriti texts introduce the principle of Maya. He cites, inter alias, Su 4.10, “Know that Prakriti is Maya and the wielder of Maya is the great Lord” and says that Brahman, the pure consciousness, associated with Maya, should be regarded as the material cause of the universe.
    2. The pure consciousness is reflected in avidya and thus, jivas are formed. As the prototype of the reflection (pratibimba), pure consciousness acquires an adventitious status as its original (bimba). This is called Iswara. Maya functions at the behest of Iswara. Iswara, as bimba caitanyam, is omniscient.  Thus Iswara and Maya taken together, is the material and intelligent cause of the universe. Maya is the transformative material cause (parinaami upaadhaana kaaranam), but Brahman as existence, being the sub-stratum of Maya, is figuratively said to be the material cause (is the vivarta upaadhaana kaaranam). Maya is Iswara’s mind; thus pure consciousness associated with Maya gets the empirical (vyaavahaarika) status of the omniscient (sarvajna) Iswara with the knowledge and desire required for creation. While the material of the world is transformed Maya, Iswara visualizes and designs the universe and guides Maya. The appearance of the word upon Brahman is mithya.  Prakasatman defines mithya as “the state of being the counterpositive (pratiyogin) of the absence of an entity at all three periods of time in a sub-stratum where it is perceived to exist

2.   Jiva

    1. Avidya (Maya) is one, vide Swesvatara Upanishad 4.10, “Know Maya to be Prakriti (the material cause of the universe) and the Lord (Maayii) to be its controller or possessor, where the word, Maya, is used in the singular. Avidya (Maya) is a single entity, but the reflection of consciousness in avidya results in a plurality of jivas; the main feature of jiva is the intellect; since the intellects projected by avidya are many, jivas with intellects carrying the apparent reflection of consciousness are many.
    2. According to Prakasatman, the pratibimba caitanyam is identical with Brahma caitanyam. If that were not so, the mahavakyas revealing identity of jivatma and paramatma like “Thou art That “where the words are in aikyasamaanaadhikaranyam, will become meaningless. Though that is a fact, owing to the veiling power (aavarana sakti) of Maya (Avidya) jivas mistake the consciousness o be different from Brahma caitanyam and, consequently regard themselves as limited individuals and undergo samsaara.
    3. Philosophers like Vacaspati Misra preclude the very possibility of reflection. But this is refuted by citing the example of mahaakaasa which does not have form being reflected in the water of a pond and sound reflected as echo in the space in a cave, which does not have as form.
    4. The thesis that reflection is identical with the original is beset with problems. The example of mirror is taken. It is argued that (a) one does not perceive one’s eyeballs in one’s face on the neck but one perceives it in the reflection (b) the location is different; one’s face is on one’s neck; the reflection is in the mirror (c) the reflection appears in front of the man facing the mirror and (d) a person standing by the side of the man facing the mirror cognizes the face of that man and the reflection in the mirror as two different entities. This is refuted by saying that when the sense of sight comes into contact with the mirror, the rays of light proceeding from the face of the person standing before the mirror are turned back by the mirror, then reach the original face and comprehend all parts of it fully. On the original face comprehended fully, the other characteristics mentioned by the opponents constituting the state of reflection (pratibimbatva) (namely presence of the reflected face inside the mirror, reflection facing the original and the difference between the original and the reflection) are superimposed. If there was no mirror, there would be no such superimposition. That is to say, the appearance of the one face being an original and a reflection (bimbatva and pratibimbatva) is a false notion (adhyaasa.  This amounts to saying that when a person thinks that he is seeing a reflection of his face in the mirror, what he actually perceives is the face on his neck. (This also seems to accord with science. According to science also, when the rays of light carrying the image of the face of the person standing in front of the mirror falls on the surface of the mirror, they do not enter the mirror;  they are turned back and fall on the eyes of the person standing in front of the mirror. The perception of the face as being inside the mirror is an optical illusion.) In the same way, caitanya pratibimbatva and caitanya bimbatva are superimposed on Brahma caitanyam, due to avidya. These two features are indeterminable as they are caused by avidya. But Brahman per se, whether it is as the consciousness of Iswara or the consciousness of jivas, is real and the same. The superimposition of bimbatva leads to the false notion (adhyaasa) of jivas that they are limited individuals. The adhyaasa which is caused by avidya is removed by the knowledge of the identity of the jiva with Brahman.
    5. If avidya is said to be one, one has to meet the objection that when any one jiva overcomes the aavarana sakti of avidya by gaining the knowledge, “I am Brahman”, and gets liberation avidya be destroyed altogether and all other jivas will get liberated, simultaneously, without any effort on their part. (The distinction between any one jiva getting liberated and other In Siddhanta-lesa-sangraha, Appayya Dikshita explains that it is quite possible to account for the distinction between the liberation of one jiva and the bondage of others since we accept that Maya is an indeterminable (anirvacaniiya) entity. An anirvacaniiya entity, single entity can have anirvacaniiya parts.  It is one anirvacaniiya part of avidya alone that gets removed by one jiva attaining ahambrahmasmi knowledge;    other anirvacaniiya parts continue to influence the minds of other jivas holding them in bondage.)

3.  Content and locus of avidya

    1. Like all other Advaita philosophers, Prakasatman holds that Brahman is the content (vishaya) of avidya
    2. According to Prakasatman, Brahman is the locus of avidya. Jiva cannot be said to be the locus of avidya. Jiva is dormant, in the causal state (kaarana avastha).  There is no Jiva to say “I do not know anything.” Only consciousness and avidya are there, It is true that jiva recollects, on waking, “I slept happily; I did not know anything” but he also says “I was absent in sushupti”. What he recollects is the bliss of pure consciousness and the ignorance of avidya. Jiva’s intellect is a reflecting medium. A reflecting medium appropriates the property of the original as its own, just as the mirror appropriates the face.
    3. Is avidya also the cause of the praatibhaasika adhyaasa perception of silver in shell? If so, the adhyaasa will be removed only by knowledge of Brahman. Prakasatman says that as derivatives of the primal avidya (moola avidya), there are modal ignorances (toola avidyas or avastha ajnaanams). While the content of moola avidya is Brahman, the content of a toola avidya is the consciousness conditioned by an object. Thus, perception of silver on shell is one of the toola avidyas concealing the caitanyam conditioned by the shell. When this toola avidya is removed, by the shell vritti, this toola avidya is removed and perception of silver ceases.

4.  Conclusion

From all this, we can arrive at the common ground in the teaching of all the Advaita preceptors mentioned above.

    1. Brahman is not the actual material cause of creation. It is the tranfigurative material cause (vivarta upaadhaana kaaranam). It is the adhishtaanam (sub-stratum), as Existence-Consciousness–Existence which is the essence of the objects of the world – the nama roopa - and the source of the consciousness of living beings.
    2. Avidya (Maya) is the transformative material cause (parinaami upaadhaana kaaranam). It superimposes the names and forms on the adhishtaanam. Brahman associated with Avidya is the intelligent cause of creation.

      The world of solid objects that we experience is mithya. It is an appearance like the snake perceived on the rope.

      Brahman, Existence- Consciousness-Infinity which is non-dual, formless and attributeless is the only reality.
    3. The notion of jivas that they are different from Brahman and are doers (karta and bhokta) and knowers (pramatas) is adhyasa, an erroneous notion caused by avidya.
    4. Avidya has the power of concealing Jivas’ nature as Brahman (aavaraNa sakti) and not only projects the world of nama roopa but deludes jivas so that they identify themselves with their body and knower-mind and undergo samsaara.
    5. Whether jivas are said to have a secondary, unreal consciousness, in addition to a Brahma caitanyam (abhasa vaada) or the Brahma caitanyam available in the intellect is itself mistaken to be a reflection confined to the individual intellect (pratibimba vaada) or the consciousness appearing to be enclosed in the intellect is mistaken to be  a consciousness confined to the intellect (avacceda vaada), in all the cases, there is the false notion (adhyaasa) on the part of jivas that they are limited individuals different from Brahman.

Section 5 -  Texts Consulted

    1. Advaita Ashrama (Kolkata) publications of Swami Gambhirananda’s translations in English of Sankaracarya’s Bhashyas of Brahma Sutra, the Eight Upanishads (2 volumes), Brhadaranyaka Upanishad and Chandogya Upanishad.
    2. Publications of Chinmaya Mission and Central Chinmaya Mission Trust
      Translations in English by Swami Chinamayananda of Sankaracarya’s Tattyvabodha, Atmabodha,  and of Kaivalya Upanishad.
    3. Mylapore, Chennai, Ramakrishna Mutt publication of Translation in English of Sankaracarya’s Upadesa Sahasri.
    4. Chennai Samata Books publication of Translation in English by Alladi Mahadeva Sastry of Sureswaracarya’s Manasollasa and Pranava vartika.
    5. The following chapters in Madras University Philosophical Series Volume II Part 2:- ( First Published in 2000 by Professor Bhuvan Chandel, Member Secretary, Centre for Strides in Civilisation, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi)
      • Post-Sankara Advaita – the Vivarana tradition by
      • N. Veezhinathan
      • Post-Sankara Advaita – The Bhamati Tradition by N.Sankaranarayanan.
    6. Madras University Philosophical Series
      Translation in English by R. Balasubramanian of Sureswaracarya’s Taittiriya Upanishad Bhashya vartrikam and Naishykarmyasiddhi
    7. Vivekacudamani with Siddinathananda Swami’s commentary, in Malayalam, published by Sri Ramakrishna Asram, Puranaattukara, Trichur.
    8. Swetaswatara Upanishad with Mrdananda Swami’s commentary, in Malayalam, published by Sri Ramakrishna Asram, Puranattukara, Trichur.
    9. Tattvamasi by Sukumar Azhikode, published by D.C. Books, Kottayam.
    10. Vakyavritti of Sankaracarya by Swaqmi Jagadananda – published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai.
    11. Atmajnanopadesavidhi of Sankaracarya by Swami Jagadananda – published by Sr Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai.
    12. Drg-Drsya-Viveka of SankaraCARYA OR Vidyaranya or Bharati Tirtha by Swami Nikhilananda – published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai.
    13. Advaita-Siddhi of Madhusudana Saraswati by Karuna Bhattacharya –publoished by Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi.
    14. Vicara Sagaram (inHindi) of Sadhu Nischala Das, translated in Sanskrit, with footnotes and explanatrions by Sri Vasudeva Brahmendra Saraswathi Swamigal by Sr Vasudeva Brahmendra Saraswathi Swamigal Library, Mayiladuthrai, Tamil Nadu.
    15. Vidyaranya’s Pancadasi with commentary in Malayalam by Swami Jnanananda Saraswati, published by Anandakudeeram, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu.
    16. Sankaracarya’s Vivekacudamani by Sringeri acarya Swami Chandrasekhara Saraswati (Sanskrit passages of Sankaracarya’s Upanishad bhashyams given in brackets have ben taken from publications of Gita Press, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. Sanskrit passages of Sankaracarya’s Brahmasutra  Bhashyam have been taken from Motilal Bnardsidas’s Sri Sankaracarya Granthavali Sankarabhashopedam Part III.)
    17. Tattvamasi by Sulumar Azhikode ( in Malayalam)
    18. A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy by Chadradhar Sharma (Motilal Banarsidas)
    19. Mukti in Advaita Vedanta by A. G. Krishna Warrier (University of Madras)