E-mail this to a friend
Printable version
Related Pages
Font Size    

Atman, Anvaya and Vyatireka

by Swami Sivananda

Atman

Sankara's individual soul is Brahman in so far as it is limited by the unreal Upadhis due to Maya. The individual soul of Ramanuja, on the other hand, is really individual; it has indeed sprung from Brahman and is never outside Brahman, but nevertheless it enjoys a separate personal existence and will remain a personality for ever.

Anvaya and Vyatireka

Anvaya means the presence of one thing along with the particular another, and Vyatireka means its absence when that other is absent. It is synthesis and analysis (positive and negative method).

The names and forms are different and illusory, but the one, underlying essence of Atman is the same in all forms. It is the only reality. Negate the forms and grasp the essence by meditation on Atman. Separate the Atman from the five Kosas (sheaths) just as you draw the pith from the Munja grass or a reed. Just as you take out the small diamond that is mixed with different kinds of pulses and cereals by separating it from them, so also take out this Atman by separating it from the five sheaths (physical, vital, mental, intellectual and blissful entities of man). Where the five sheaths exist, there the Atman also exists. Where the five sheaths do not exist, even there the Atman exists. Therefore, the Atman is independent of the five sheaths.

During the state of dreaming there is no consci ousness of the existence of the material body, but the presence of the spirit is experienced, as without the spirit it is not possible to have the consciousness of what occurs in a dream. It thus follows that in the state of dreaming there is the presence of the Spirit and the absence of the material body. This coexistence of the Spirit in all conditions is called Anvaya and the non-coexistence of the material or the physical and the other sheaths with the Spirit in certain circumstances is called Vyatireka.

Similarly, in the state of sound sleep one is not conscious of the existence of the subtle body (Linga Sarira), but the presence of the Spirit is proved by the fact that after waking, everyone has the consciousness that during the state of sound sleep he was perfectly ignorant of everything, and this conscious ness is the result of previous experience and in that state there is no one else than the Spirit to receive that experience. This coexistence of the Spirit with the Karana Sarira is called Anvaya, and the non-coexistence of the Linga Sarira with the Spirit in the state of sound sleep is called Vyatireka. It is thus clear that the Spirit is present in all conditions while the material and subtle bodies are not present in certain state. It thus follows that while the Spirit is eternal, these two bodies are not so.

The Annamaya Kosa is the material body and it has been shown that the Spirit exists without the material body in certain conditions. It follows, there fore, that this Annamaya Kosa is not the Spirit. It has also been shown above that the Spirit exists without the subtle body in certain conditions. The three sheaths Pranamaya Kosa, Manomaya Kosa and Vijnanamaya Kosa are connected with the Linga Sarira, and receive their different names on account of the difference in the quality and condition of their constituents, all of which together go to form the Linga Sarira. It, therefore, follows that these three sheaths also are not the Spirit.

The first four sheaths having been differentiated from the Spirit, it now remains to differentiate the Anandamaya Kosa. This sheath is connected with the Karana Sarira. In the state of Samadhi, i.e., perfect absorption of thought into the one object of meditation, viz., the Supreme Spirit, there is absence of Karana Sarira, which is the same thing as perfect ignorance, but the presence of the Spirit is experi enced in that state. This coexistence of the Spirit with the state of Samadhi is called Anvaya, and the non-coexistence of the Karana Sarira with the Spirit is called Vyatireka. It thus follows that in certain conditions the Spirit does not coexist with the Kara na Sarira, and as the Anandamaya Kosa is connected with the Karana Sarira, it must be said that in those conditions the Spirit does not coexist with the Anandamaya Kosa. The conclusion, therefore, is that this sheath also is not the Spirit.

It has thus been shown that the Spirit exists in dependently of the several sheaths under certain con ditions. It is an axiom that whatever exists apart from certain other things is different from those things. It, therefore, follows that the Spirit is diffe rent from the five sheaths.

In the syllogistic argument 'where there is pit cher, there is clay', the negative proposition would be 'where there is no clay, there is no pitcher'. This is the common illustration of the Anvaya-Vyatireka method in logic. Applying this process to the three states and the Atman, we see from experience that 'when waking exists, Atman exists' (Anvaya). But the Vyatireka method cannot be put as 'when Atman does not exist, waking does not exist', because, in the method of Anvaya-Vyatireka which is applied in the Vedanta philosophy to prove the difference of the Atman from the three states of consciousness, we cannot, in the beginning itself, take for granted that the Atman is consciousness, because the very purpose of the method is to show that the Atman is independent consciousness. Therefore, in order to avoid the fallacy of petitio principii and also to avoid the conception of the nonexistence of the Atman which is involved in the argument, we have to put the statement thus:

'When waking exists, Atman exists' (Anvaya). 'When waking does not exist, Atman exists' (Vyati reka). But we should not say as a Vyatireka 'when Atman does not exist, waking does not exist', be cause, here, we already assume that the conscious ness of waking is possible only because of the Cons ciousness of the Atman which is yet to be proved. Thus, here is a begging of the question. Further, it is absurd to say 'when Atman does not exist', be cause none can experience the nonexistence of the Atman. The whole argument may be put in the fol lowing way:

'When waking exists, Atman exists' (Anvaya). 'When waking does not exist, Atman exists' (Vyati reka). Thus, Atman is independent of the waking state. 'When dreaming exists, Atman exists' (Anvaya).

'When dreaming does not exist, Atman exists' (Vya tireka). Thus, Atman is independent of the dream ing state.

'When sleeping exists, Atman exists' (Anvaya). 'When sleeping does not exist, Atman exists' (Vyati reka). Thus, Atman is independent of the sleeping state.

Hence, to put it collectively, 'When the three states exist, Atman exists' (Anvaya). 'When the three states do not exist, Atman exists' (Vyatireka). Thus, Atman is independent of the three states.

Because, also, when one state exists the other states do not exist, it is proved that the three states are not real, since reality is that which exists at all times.

Therefore, the consciousness which is experienc ed being real, because none can separate conscious ness from existence this consciousness must be the nature of that which is independent and real, namely, the Atman. And because one can never conceive of his own nonexistence, the Atman must also be eternal.

The same method may be applied to the five sheaths and we will, accordingly, come to the conclusion that 'when five sheaths exist, Atman exists' (Anvaya). 'When five sheaths do not exist, Atman exists' (Vyatireka). Thus, Atman is independent of the five sheaths.

This process is also applied to prove that Satchidananda is independent of Nama and Rupa, viz., 'When Nama and Rupa exist, Satchidananda exists' (Anvaya). 'When Nama and Rupa do not exist, Satchidananda exists' (Vyatireka). This shows that Satchidananda exists at all times whether Nama and Rupa exist or not.

To put this in another way:
'Where there is pitcher, there is clay' (Anvaya). 'Where there is no clay, there is no pitcher' (Vyatireka).
'Where there is no waking, there is Atman' (Anvaya). 'Where there is Atman, there is no waking' (Vyatireka).
'Where there is no dreaming, there is Atman' (Anvaya). 'Where there is Atman, there is no dreaming' (Vyatireka).
'Where there is no sleeping, there is Atman' (Anvaya). 'Where there is Atman, there is no sleeping' (Vyatireka).
'Where there are no three states, there is Atman' (Anvaya). 'Where there is Atman, there are no three states' (Vyatireka).
'Where there are no five sheaths, there is Atman' (Anvaya). 'Where there is Atman, there are no five sheaths' (Vyatireka).
'Where there are no Nama and Rupa, there is Satchidananda' (Anvaya). 'Where there is Sat chidananda, there are no Nama and Rupa' (Vyatireka).


copyright © 2011 the divine life society. All rights reserved.