Mandukya Upanishad, Class 21


Shloka # 4:

अन्तःस्थानात्तु भेदानां तस्माज्जागरिते स्मृतम्
यथा तत्र तथा स्वप्ने संवृतत्वेन भिद्यते

Different objects cognized in dream are illusory because they are being perceived to exist. For the same reason the objects seen in the waking state are also to be considered as illusory. Just as in the waking state, so also in the dream, the nature of objects remains the same. The only difference is the limitation of space in case of dream objects, they being seen in the within.

Continuing his teaching, Swamiji said, in Chapter 2 Guadapada is establishing Mithyatvam of Universe and Jagrat Prapancha. To establish Mithyatvam he takes dream as an example. He establishes dream is mithya using Sruti, Yukti and Anubhava Pramana’s in Karikas 1,2 and 3 respectively. Having established Swapna Mithyatvam, he extended it to Jagrat Prapancha as well. Just as objects are Mithya in swapna avastha so also objects are mithya in jagrat avastha. Gaudapada admits that objects in both states are different. Objects in Swapna avastha are experienced inside our body while objects in Jagrat avastha are experienced outside our body. However, objects in both avasthas are mithya.

Swapna Prapancha is Mithya because of non-availability of space and time. The dream is inside the body and exists in a confined space.  However, in Jagrat prapancha Uchit Desha and Kala; time and space, both are available; if so, why is it Mithya, was the question raised? Gaudapada gives the reason later but he says end result is that they are both Mithya. He gives the reasons why they are Mithya now.

Karika # 5:

स्वप्नजागरितस्थाने ह्येकमाहुर्मनीषिणः  
भेदानां हि समत्वेन प्रसिद्धेनैव हेतुना

The thoughtful persons speak of the sameness of the waking and dream states on account of the similarity of the diverse objects perceived in these two states and on the well-known grounds already described.

The dream experienced object and waking experienced object, both are very similar; both being Mithya. Wise people declare that both experiences and objects are Mithya. Objects are very similar in both cases. The word Bheda in the karika means distinct object experienced in waking and dream states with time and space available in Jagrat avastha. However, there is one difference; in Jagrat Prapancha object is outside the body while in Swapna Prapancha it is inside our body.

Why is Jagrat Prapancha Mithya? He answers that it is so because of well known reasons to wise people or one’s with knowledge of scriptures. What is that reason? Here we cannot use Uchita desha kala abhava as a reason. Two reasons are cited.

First reason: Shankaracharya, in his commentary, says, something mind boggling to us. He says Jagrat Prapancha is Mithya because you see it and since you are experiencing it. It is similar to experiencing Swapna Prapancha. He uses a generalization that says: whatever, is experienced by you is Mithya,

If, whatever is experienced by you is Mithya, what is Satyam? Shankaracharya says, whatever is not seen by you, is Satyam; if we can think of such a thing; it is non-existent. He says, whatever is existent, but not experienced by you, is Satyam; that is the Experiencer, the Subject, is Satyam. In both prapanchas, the objects are all Mithya. How do you say so? Shankaracharya does not provide an explanation for this.

Our reasoning for this is as follows. I have discussed it in my introduction to Mandukya Upanishad as well. Whatever is an object of experience, its existence will depend on the Subject alone. Existence of subject, however, does not depend on Object.

If there is an object that cannot be experienced by anyone, then you can’t talk of existence of object. Existence depends on Knowability and Knowability depends on Knower. So, existence of object depends on subject.

Citing an example, suppose I dream that I am saving a drowning person and having partially saved him, I wake up. Now, do I worry about that partially rescued person? You know the object does not exist. Thus, object has dependent existence on subject. Subject has independent existence; it is not dependent on object. Vedanta says, whatever has independent existence is Satyam. While whatever has dependent existence is Mithya. Citing example of a pot, it does not have an existence separate from Clay; it is dependent on clay for its existence; in fact it is clay alone.

Shankaracharya says both Swapna Prapancha and Jagrat Prapancha are Mithya. This is the well-known reason.

Normally we say, when we see something, it is real. However, Shankarcharya says, when we see something, it is Mithya.

Karika # 6:

आदावन्ते यन्नास्ति वर्तमानेऽपि तत्तथा |
वितथैः सदृशाः सन्तोऽवितथा इव लक्षिताः || 6 ||

That which is non-existent in the beginning and in the end, is necessarily so even in the present (in other words, in middle). Those (objects) are like illusions we see and yet they are regarded as though real

Second Reason:

Now Gaudapada gives the second reason why objects are Mithya. He says, whatever is finite (Anityam) is Mithya while whatever is Nityam (present in all three states of time) is Satyam. Tatva bodha also gives a definition that states that one that exists in all three states of time (past, present, future) is Satyam. Any finite object enjoys existence for a limited duration; namely after date of birth and before date of expiration; thus, a pot exists only during a limited duration of time.

If a finite object has limited existence, then its existence is not its intrinsic nature; it is only an incidental property.

Fire enjoys heat as it’s intrinsic nature; hence it is always hot; conversely, water enjoys heat only for a limited time; hence its heat remains only for a limited time. Intrinsic nature is permanent while finite nature is limited.

Citing an example, a person wanted to remove the onion smell from an onion. He placed it in a chamber and did abhishekam of sandal wood paste and kalpuram for three hours; but at end of it, the onion still smelled as it was. Thus, Palandu does not lose its intrinsic nature. So, finite has only borrowed existence. Similarly, pot borrows existence from clay and when pot is destroyed it goes back to clay. Before its creation pot did not exist; in between it did exist. Gaudapada says, even during its brief existence the “Is-ness” does not belong to pot; it belongs to clay alone. Thus, pot was not there, before or after or in-between; it has only a seeming existence; a borrowed existence from clay. This seeming existence is called Mithya.

The world is also like the pot. Before creation there was no world; after destruction too there is no world; in between, its existence was borrowed from something else called Atma or Brahman. Atma exists in all three periods of time. World has only a seeming existence.

Suppose an object was not there in past or will be in future but exists in present; even when you are holding a pot, the “is ness” does not belong to Pot but is borrowed from clay. Remove clay and see if pot exists? Pot has only borrowed existence. Therefore Pot is Mithya. Similarly, the sweetness in milk belongs to sugar. So, whole world is Mithya; like any other unreal object in world; like snake and rope; like dream objects etc. The world just appears to be Satyam to a non-thinking person. Upon enquiry this appearance goes away.

Thus, Jagat Prapancha is mithya as it is also finite like Swapna Prapancha

Karikas 7 and 8:

सप्रयोजनता तेषां स्वप्ने विप्रतिपद्यते  
तस्मादाद्यन्तवत्वेन मिथ्यैव खलु ते स्मृताः

That the objects of the waking state can serve our purpose in life is contradicted in dream state experiences. Therefore, they are undoubtedly illusory on account of their-both waking and dream-having a beginning and an end.

अपूर्वं स्थानिधर्मो हि यथा स्वर्गनिवासिनाम्  
तानयं प्रेक्षते गत्वा यथैवेह सुशिक्षितः

The objects perceived by the dreamer when they are such a unique nature as not easily met within the waking state, undoubtedly owe their existence to the practical condition in which the dreamer with his mind works for the time being, as in case of those residing in heaven. The dreamer, associating himself with dream conditions, experiences those objects just as a well-informed person goes from one place to another and sees the objects belonging to that place.

Swamiji said I will explain Karika # 8 first and then come back to Karika # 7.

Karika # 8:

Gaudapada has said Swapna prapancha is mithya as is Jagrat prapancha; two reasons are given for it. One reason is attributed to Gaudapada and another to Shankaracharya.

Now a student asks a question. In Student’s vision Swapna Prapancha is real. Generally, Swapna is considered unreal; but there are some philosophers including those of Vishishta Advaita, who say Swapna Prapancha is real.

They say the vasanas formed in our jagrat avastha come up in Swapna. This philospher says, I don’t accept Swapna Prapancha as mithya as in dream; we do see unique things that we had not experienced in the waking state. Dream must be another unique different world of experience and so must be taken as satyam. Since the waking state is similar to dream, it must also be satyam. Some darshanas like vishishtadvaita hold that dream is not our mental projection but created by God for a particular jiva. Thus uniqueness is the criterion for reality. Waking and dream are both unique in their own way and both must be taken as satyam.

Gaudapada’s answer is that uniqueness cannot be taken as criterion for reality. We do have several mental projections unique to us. If uniqueness is criterion for reality, whatever we uniquely project can be considered to be real. That is not so and the argument that uniqueness is the criterion of reality is simplistic. No one accepts dream as real. Whether dream is unique or not, dream depends upon the observer for its existence. Since the unique dream object depends on the dream observer, it does not have independent existence of its own and therefore it must be understood as mithya. There is no objective world existing.

Even accepting Vasishta advaitins assumptions, Gaudapada says Swapna Prapancha is Mithya. The reasons are as follows:

The type of world that we experience will depend upon the type of instruments that we use. Suppose we are using eyes, the world will be understood as the world of forms. The moment you remove the eyes and use only the ears, the world will be the world of sounds. Depending upon the instrument, the world will be experienced differently. If instead of a human body we have an animal body, this world experience will be unique to the animal body. Many animals cannot see colors and for them this world will be black and white only. Vedanta says that we do not experience the world objectively but our experience depends on the instrument that we use. The moment a human being gets a celestial body, he will experience a celestial world here and now. Citing the example: In heaven there are unique objects such as white elephant, special chariots etc. Even these are dependent on observer in heaven or heavenly observer dependent.

Gaudapada gives another example of experiencing different things in different places with the observer being the same. Just as a well-educated person travels from place to place experiencing different things in this earth itself, similarly, the jivatma travels from loka to loka experiencing different things in different births. All these experiences are dependent upon the observer for their existence and dependent upon the instruments of

Experience for their nature. Uniqueness cannot be the criterion for reality.

In karika the words Sthani means Observer and Dharma means dependent.

Shloka # 7: Another question comes up.

Previous student did not accept Swapna Prapancha was unreal. Now, a second student says, I am willing to accept Swapna Prapancha is unreal but I can’t accept Jagrat Prapancha is unreal because whatever money I earn in dream, I don’t find any utility at all; but I can’t say that of Jagrat prapancha. In Jagrat prapancha the money is available and useful. So definition of reality has to be change.

His contention is that: Whatever is useful must be accepted as real. Utility must be a criterion for reality.

He also contends that whatever is useless, is unreal. Hence Swapna Prapancha is mithya while Jagrat Prapancha is real. This is question raised by a student.

Gaudapada refutes this by saying that this definition does not work.

He says waking state objects are useful in the waking state only. Dream objects are useless in the waking state but are useful in the dream state. In fact, dream objects alone are useful in the dream state; such as dream water, dream food etc. Each object is useful in its state and useless in the other state. Utility in the respective state is common to both waking and dream and uselessness in the other state is common to both. Therefore both states should be given the same status of reality. The utility of the waker’s objects is falsified in dream. Thus, utility is not a criterion for reality. That which is beginning-less and eternal alone is real. Eternity is the criterion of reality. So the waking world is mithya.

Truth is that Reality is not relative. So swapna parapancha is unreal. Jagrat prapancha is also unreal even though it is useful in jagrat avastha. So utility is not a criterion for Reality.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy