Svāmī Prakāśānandendra Sarasvatī Mahārāja
3. Extracts from the Commentary on the Adhyāsa Bhāṣya Sugama
So mithyā means just misunderstanding the Fact; Fact is Brahman, i.e. that you are pure Consciousness, free from all problems and independent by its very nature. As independent he is not subject to time and place, he has no parts, and so he is independent to birth and death, pain and pleasure, etc. Then the very nature of Consciousness itself is free. And how do you say that you are Consciousness by nature? In deep sleep you can look at it. You are effortlessly, spontaneously all-existing, without being an individual. That your individuality doesn’t exist, that you are just free from your individuality; so you have just to give up individuality and you become free from individuality and that is your anubhava: that you are free from your sense of individuality.
All the saṃsāra goes with sense of individuality: birth and death, pain and pleasure, good and bad, limitations, relationships, ecc. All of that goes with the very sense of individuality. But Śāstra says that the very sense of individuality, jīvātman, is a mistake, that means, you are not really jīva, you are not an individual, you are free form all the problems due to individuality. Now, you have been struggling as an individual, but whatever you do you cannot get off the very individuality. As an individual, you work, you do something, you get some experiences, you get related to second things. But the very individuality you can’t transcend, you can’t become free from the very individuality. So you just don’t know what to do. Śāstra says: “Look at you deep sleep experience: you are already free”.
That is your real nature, that you take yourself to be a waking person, that there is a waking state is a mistake: you have not come to waking, you are the same truth or natura which you find yourself in deep sleep. That nature is even now, you have not come to waking state. Coming to waking state means becoming an individual: it is not that you as an individual have come to waking state; being in the waking state is your individuality, to be an individual means to be in the waking state. They are synonymous: that you are in the waking state means you are an individual and vice versa. Now, Śāstra says: you have not come to waking state, that means you have not come to be an individual.
You are even now the same suṣupti svarūpa; you only have to look at yourself, and recognize that this present state of individuality, this present state of being in waking, is a mistake, a misunderstanding about you. So, you have misunderstood that you have become an individual. That you are in the waking state is not “you”, because your normal experience shows that if you look at your deep sleep, then you are no more a waking individual, neither you have a waking state nor the waking individuality. This is natural, effortless, you don’t have to do anything, because anything you do, you do it only as an individual; but as an individual you cannot get rid of the very individuality or of the waking state, because it is all svābhāvika.
It is innate ignorance (svābhāvika adhyāsa): svābhāvika you perceive them. And the very nature of suṣupti is free; therefore you only have to look at yourself the way you are in deep sleep, and correct your individuality. This is what is required, nothing is to be done. Therefore mithyā means you are remaining Brahman, you are remaining pure Consciousness, you are remaining free of saṃsāra is the fact, but your understanding of yourself – that you are a jīva, an individual, remaining in the waking state – is a misunderstanding about you, you who is free from all this. “You” who is free from all this is taken to be “you” which is subject to individuality and waking state. It is simple a misunderstanding, and so this adhyāsa or misunderstanding needs to be corrected.
So here the pūvapakṣin in Sugama is explaining what is mithyā. Its mithyā is a product. He says: every jñāna necessarily requires an object, for example here you have a rope and your jñāna about the rope is snake, and that is a contradiction. This contradiction is wrong and cannot exist; therefore any knowledge requires an object. Since you have a knowledge of snake, there must be an object-snake corresponding to your knowledge-snake. So this is what pūvapakṣin says we have already corrected this mistake: a misunderstanding doesn’t need a wrong object. The very misunderstanding, the very mithyājñāna, means the knowledge is against the object: object is one, your understanding about it is totally different, the very misunderstanding stand as misunderstanding about the reality.
You can’t expect that there should be a wrong object according to a wrong knowledge. This we have already said, so I’m just reminding you. A wrong knowledge does require a wrong object. If it has wrong object, it is no more wrong knowledge, it is a true knowledge. Now, this is where they missed the very concept of mithyājñāna: the post-samkarites have committed the biggest mistake, isn’t it, it is the biggest mistake of Vedānta: that wrong knowledge requires a wrong object corresponding to the wrong knowledge, mithyājñāna requires mithyā padārtha corresponding to the mithyā. Then the knowledge is no more mithyājñāna, it is samyag-jñāna. Than to samyag-jñāna you can’t do anything because it is the reality. So this is the biggest problem the whole Vedānta is turned into wrong thinking, whole Vedānta is missed.
The knowledge is mithyājñāna, the mithyājñāna is about an object that is a real entity, regarding the real entity, the rope, you have a different knowledge called snake which is wrong knowledge. Your real nature is pure Consciousness as you are in sleep, but you take yourself to be a waking individual in the waking state. That there is waking state and a waking individual is not a fact; the fact about you, the fact about the world is just pure Consciousness. But that reality is missed and you happened to misunderstand, wit you find yourself in the natural misunderstanding of taking yourself to be an individual facing the world. This whole experience itself, that you are an individual facing the world, is a misunderstanding about the suṣupti svarūpa.
See their explanation: that you have misunderstood myself, that you are a jīva, according to jīva’s understanding there is a real jīva; now, they say for every misunderstanding requires an object. They accept that “you are a jīva” is a misunderstanding, but then they say that this false understanding requires a false object; that means, and this is the point, in some way there is jīvātman, and you are understanding that jīvātman. So here a false understanding requires a false jīva. Similarly, they say, if you are seeing the world there must be a world that “I am seeing”. So this kind of explanation is totally spoiling, undermining the meaning of Vedānta. The truth is that you are an individual facing or experiencing the world, this whole one experience is mithyājñāna, is the misunderstanding without the object being there.
It is not that you have a wrong understanding about the world that has to be corrected. That is wrong. The very world is of the nature of your misunderstanding. The world itself means you are misunderstanding about Brahman, about pure Consciousness. World is only the form of misunderstanding about the Reality, which is Consciousness. This only is the Fact. Snake is the form of misunderstanding; it is not an object about which you have a misunderstanding. Snake is the very form of misunderstanding about the rope which is the reality. Similarly, “I am jīva” is a misunderstanding and you say that there is a misunderstanding about jīva. There is no misunderstanding about jīva: jīvātva or individuality is the misunderstanding about your Brahmatvam.
That you are Brahman is the Reality, that you are suṣupti svarūpa is the Reality; about your suṣupti svarūpa you take it to be a jīva; and jīva means you are in the waking state. You are always the suṣupti svarūpa, but you think you are moving away from suṣupti and you are in the waking state. This is the misunderstanding. You have never move, you have never come away; you are even now in the same suṣupti svarūpa free from saṃsāra and individuality. Therefore, you think that you have move away from suṣupti svarūpa and you become an individual: you have not “become”, individuality is your own thought, a wrong thought, a misunderstanding about yourself, who are suṣupti, pure Consciousness. So this is the real Vedānta. If you miss it, all become an intellectual game and more and more confusional.