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                    35.5  THE LIGHT OF ALL LIGHTS  - 5

              (Summary of Br. U. (4.3.6. 4.3.7. etc.) Bhashya by Adi Shankara)

Now the Buddhist raises another objection.  When the eyes see something they use the instrument of light.  If anything illumines something it has to use an instrument.  So what instrument does the Atman use to illumine everything?  And the moment you mention an instrument, there has to be a series of instruments in which each helps in the illumination of its predecessor. The reply to this objection  is as follows.  Eye illumines an object with the help of the light instrument.  Eye is the seer; light is the instrument;  and there is the object which is illumined.  But now suppose you see the light itself; now eye is the seer, the object is the light, and there is no instrument coming in the picture.  Eyes require an instrument of light  only when they are seeing an object.  When Eyes are seeing Light itself, no instrument is necessary. This proves that the necessity for an instrument for sight-perception to take place  is not universal. Remember, the owls are there, which see without the instrument of Light.  In the same way Atman illumines buddhi without requiring an instrument for the illumination.


Now let us look at the KshaNika vijnAna of the yogacara school of Buddhism.  For this school, unlike the earlier two schools, there is no external world at all. So they say ‘I do not accept the example of Light. It is too ‘light’! There are no objects which you say are being illumined. There is no permanence in the concept of objects.  Each is a point in the flow of momentary consciousness.’.  This is like the dream which we all know.  There is no dream-object in the outside world.  There is only a thought process.  Dream objects are all inside us. So for this school everything is only in the mind-buddhi. There is no object outside. The so-called objects outside are only kshanika-vijnAnaM.


Shankaracharya refutes this school by several points of arguments. According to him, in their system,


  • All transactions are meaningless, because according to their philosophy, no objects are there.

  • The faculty of re-cognition – cognising the same object for a second time – is impossible in the kshanika-vijnAnam philosophy. So there is no ‘continuous’ subject . Each kshanika vijnAna corresponds to an object which has no past existence or future existence.

  • There is no question of anything like a possessive adjective. Two objects cannot co-exist.

  • All objects are only in mind; so every knowledge is qualified by the vijnAna at that instant. The opposite attributes like ‘knowledge of pot’ and ‘knowledge of cloth’ are considered by the system to be ‘impurities’ to be removed for moksha. But impurities are always external and since this system does not approve of the existence of external objects, there is a contradiction.

  • If the impurities are also considered as a kshanika-vijnAnam then as a vijnAnam there is no question of removing them and so there is then no moksha.

                                                         CONTINUED IN 35.6

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