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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

How the maya becomes associated with Brahman

it by adding that the "many"

was merely an illusion, and hence did not exist in reality and was bound to disappear when the truth was known. The world-appearance is maya (illusion). This is what S'ankara emphasizes in expounding his constructive system of the Upani@sad doctrine. The question is sometimes asked, how the maya becomes associated with Brahman. But Vedanta thinks this question illegitimate, for this association did not begin in time either with reference to the cosmos or with reference to individual persons. In fact there is no real association, for the creation of illusion does not affect the unchangeable truth. Maya or illusion is no real entity, it is only false knowledge (_avidya_) that makes the appearance, which vanishes when the reality is grasped and found. Maya or avidya has an apparent existence only so long as it lasts, but the moment the truth is known it is dissolved. It is not a real entity in association with which a real world-appearance has been brought into permanent existence, for it only has existence so long as we are deluded by it (_pratitika-satta_). Maya therefore is a category which baffles the ordinary logical division of existence and non-existence and the principle of excluded middle. For the maya can neither be said to be "is" nor "is not" (_tattvanyatvabhyam anirvacaniya_). It cannot be said that such a logical category does not exist, for all our dream and illusory cognitions demonstrate it to us. They exist as they are perceived, but they do not exist since they
have no other independent existence than the fact of their perception. If it has any creative function, that function is as illusive as its own nature, for the creation only lasts so long as the error lasts. Brahman, the truth, is not in any way sullied or affected by association with maya, for there can be no association of the real with the empty, the maya, the illusory. It is no real association but a mere appearance.


In what sense is the world-appearance false?

The world is said to be false--a mere product of maya. The falsehood of this world-appearance has been explained as involved in the category of the indefinite which is neither _sat_ "is" nor _asat_ "is not." Here the opposition of the "is" and "is not" is solved by the category of time. The world-appearance is "is not," since it does not continue to manifest itself in all times, and has its manifestation up to the moment that the right knowledge dawns. It is not therefore "is not" in the sense that a "castle in the air" or a hare's horn is "is not," for these are called _tuccha_, the absolutely non-existent. The world-appearance is said to be "is" or existing, since it appears to be so for the time the state of ignorance persists in us. Since it exists for a time it is _sat_ (is), but since it does not exist for all times it is _asat_ (is not). This is the appearance, the falsehood of the world-appearance (_jagat-prapanca_) that it is neither _sat_ nor _asat_ in an absolute sense. Or rather it may also be said in another way that the falsehood of the world-appearance consists in this, that though it appears to be the reality or an expression or manifestation of the reality, the being, _sat_, yet when the reality is once rightly comprehended, it will be manifest that the world never existed, does not exist, and will never exist again. This is just what we find in an illusory perception; when once the truth is found out that it is a conch-shell, we say that the silver, though it appeared at the time of illusory perception to be what we saw before us as "this" (this is silver), yet it never existed before, does not now exist, and will never exist again. In the case of the illusory perception of silver, the "this" (pointing to a thing before me) appeared as silver; in the case of the world-appearance, it is the being (_sat_), the Brahman, that appears as the world; but as in the case when the "this" before us is found to be a piece of conch-shell, the silver is at once dismissed as having had no existence in the "this" before us, so when the Brahman, the being, the reality, is once directly realized, the conviction comes that the world never existed. The negation of the world-appearance however has no separate existence other than the comprehension of the identity of the real. The fact that the real is realized is the same as that the world-appearance is negated. The negation here involved refers both to the thing negated (the world-appearance) and the

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