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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Vyavaharika or practical ordinary experience


(wild ox) is similar to cow,

but despite this similarity I am not tempted to behave with the gavaya as if it were a cow. Thus in whatever way the Mima@msa position may be defined it fails [Footnote ref l]. Vedanta thinks that the illusion is not merely subjective, but that there is actually a phenomenon of illusion as there are phenomena of actual external objects; the difference in the two cases consists in this, that the illusion is generated by the do@sa or defect of the senses etc., whereas the phenomena of external objects are not due to such specific do@sas. The process of illusory perception in Vedanta may be described thus. First by the contact of the senses vitiated by do@sas a mental state as "thisness" with reference to the thing before me is generated; then in the thing as "this" and in the mental state of the form of that "this" the cit is reflected. Then the avidya (nescience) associated with the cit is disturbed by the presence of the do@sa, and this disturbance along with the impression of silver remembered through similarity is transformed into the appearance of silver. There is thus an objective illusory silver appearance, as well as a similar transformation of the mental state generated by its contact with the illusory silver. These two transformations, the silver state of the mind and external phenomenal illusory silver state, are manifested by the perceiving consciousness (_sak@sicaitanya_). There are thus here two phenomenal transformations, one in the avidya states forming the illusory
objective silver phenomenon, and another in the anta@hkara@na-v@rtti or mind state. But in spite of there being two distinct and separate phenomena, their object being the same as the "this" in perception, we have one knowledge of illusion. The special feature of this theory of illusion is that an indefinable (_anirvacaniya-khyati_) illusory silver is created in every case where an illusory perception of silver occurs. There are three orders of reality in Vedanta, namely the

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[Footnote 1: See _Vivara@na-prameya-sa@mgraha_ and _Nyayamakaranda_ on akhyati refutation.]

487

_paramarthika_ or absolute, _vyavaharika_ or practical ordinary experience, and _pratibhasika,_ illusory. The first one represents the absolute truth; the other two are false impressions due to do@sa. The difference between vyavaharika and pratibhasika is that the do@sa of the vyavaharika perception is neither discovered nor removed until salvation, whereas the do@sa of the pratibhasika reality which occurs in many extraneous forms (such as defect of the senses, sleep, etc.) is perceived in the world of our ordinary experience, and thus the pratibhasika experience lasts for a much shorter period than the vyavaharika. But just as the vyavaharika world is regarded as phenomenal modifications of the ajnana, as apart from our subjective experience and even before it, so the illusion (e.g. of silver in the conch-shell) is also regarded as a modification of avidya, an undefinable creation of the object of illusion, by the agency of the do@sa. Thus in the case of the illusion of silver in the conch-shell, indefinable silver


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