By Vishnu Prakash
(CHAKRA) This is extracted from second chapter [Vaitathya prakaraNa] of Shri GauDapAda’s kArikA converted into a question answer format.
Point of discussion: Analysis of Waking and Dreaming states.
Q: How do you say that waking state is similar to dream state?
A: You can’t accept the similarity because you have never compared them. As in dream, so in the waking state also, it is only the ideas that are really cognized.
Q: What is the scientific base for this claim?
A: The so called external object, even when taken as existing independently cannot be cognized by mind directly as it is.
In dream, we know there is no necessity for any external stimulus even, and so the assumption of an external object in waking state also is not quite necessary to explain the consciousness on an object. If mind can have idea and cognize it in dream without any object, why cannot it cognize ideas in waking state also?
Q: But in waking state, we know that the object is external.
A: Same is the case in dream as well. The feeling of object being external to self is common to both states.
Q: The object in waking state is not just known to me, but to all others! How’s that?
A: For dream also, so long as the dream lasts, the dreamer feels the cognition of external objects exactly as they are seen by “dream people” with whom he feels himself as commuting in that state.
Q: Dream objects lasts only for a short time. But in waking, objects lasts for long time.
A: That’s incorrect. Dream objects last according to the standards of dream time in precisely the same way as waking objects last according to the standards of waking time. To say one is longer than other, the standard of time must be the same. But dream time and waking time are not same. To judge one from the standard of other is neither just nor fair. If otherwise, object of waking state also must be judged by the dream standard. Then, each would be unreal from standard of the other.
Q: That’s with time. What about space and causation?
Not only with time, it also applies to space and causation. The dream space and causal relations should not be expected to agree with waking standards, nor waking space and causality with dream standards. Each is independent of the other. If one appears to be possible in the waking state from the standpoint of space, the other is as much possible in the dream state. What appears reasonable in waking state seems unreasonable in dream and vice versa. If dream is contradicted by waking phenomenon, latter is contradicted by dream phenomenon. So the samer view is to admit that both are alike.
Q: Unlike dreaming objects which do not occur constantly and regularly every time one goes to sleep, the objects of waking state do consistently and regularly every time we wake up. Doesn’t that prove reality of waking and unreality of dream?
A: In dream state also, we have the same regularity for a long number of “dream years”. When, after every dream-sleep, we wake up in dream, we see same objects appearing consistently and regularly that is in no way different from what we experience with regard to the objects of waking state.
Q: What about experiences exclusive to waking state? For example, drinking water quenches my thirst in waking state.
A: To say that water in the dream do not quench your thirst is not true, for dream water quenches dream thirst as much as the water of waking state quenches thirst of waking state. Think!
Q: So what is the reason I see all these, or what exactly am I “seeing”?
A: Imagination is the root of world phenomenon, in which are included both the individual jIvas and their experiences, subjective as well as objective. It is the Atman that is variously imagined to be different things such as vital airs (pancha prANas), elements (bhUtas), dispositions of Nature (guNAs), worlds (lokas), devas, time (kAla), space (desha), mind (manaH), intellect (buddhi), virtue, vice, etc. He alone has grasped the true imports of vEdAs, who knows that it is the one non-dual Atman that appears as variegated world of subjects and objects.
Q: If so, why does Atman appear different from itself?
A: Why it appears different is inexplicable. And it is this inexplicability that is denoted by “mAyA”. The illustrations of dream, illusions, the castle in the air and the like are given only to show the inexplicable nature of world phenomena and to emphasize the capacity of ignorance to cloud the real nature of a thing and make it appear as something different. These and other illustrations are not to taken as arguments for proving the unreal nature of world phenomena, as ignorant opponents of advaita are prone to do. Illustrations are meant to illustrate particular points and should not be stretched to cover all points; for they would then cease to be illustrations.
Q: So what would be the standpoint of highest realization?
A: From that standpoint, there is really neither death, nor birth, nor bondage, nor release for the Atman, and thus there is no seeker after liberation or any one liberated. All these are only relative terms and hold good only in relative world of ignorance. Assimilation of highest truth is always accompanied by freedom from attachment, fear and anger, and it behooves all to live always in this self-knowledge, free from all imaginations. A wise man of this type is above all praise and blame, is no slave of vEdic injunctions and rituals, and is always contended with what chance brings to keep up his body. He derives fullness from the non-dual Atman which is one with everything including himself.
Hence this chapter is called Vaitathya-prakaraNa or Dissertation on the Illusoriness of the World.
Vishnu is a student of traditional advaita vedAnta.