These notes on Vedantic Theory of Perception are based on the 2 part video lecture series of a Guru Poornima talk delivered by Shri L Ramaswamy of Vedanta Institute Kolkata on 10-Aug-2015.
The question of appearance versus reality has bothered philosophers and logicians for ages, both in the west and especially in India. While all Hindu schools accept Brahman as real, they pretty much disagree on almost every other points with Advaitins on one extreme saying everything else is mithya while Vishistadvaitins, Dviatins, Dvaiadvaitins, Shuddhadvaitins etc. each accepting different levels of reality.
This 2-part lecture provides the undiluted Advaita Vedanta view of perception. Below are my personal notes. Do watch the videos to learn in-depth on this subject in a very methodical, logical and rigorous way.
In the first part of this lecture titled "Vedantic Theory of Perception" Shri L Ramaswamy covers some very important points:
1. Defining clearly what is subject and what is object, what theory means and what is meant by "perception"
- Subject is the Self / Knower
- Object is the World
2. the main difference between West and Hindu/Dharma schools is the definition of subject - for the west subject is the mind, but for us the subject is the Self. Mind is merely another object.
3. The differences between the Western schools of Idealism and Realism - Idealists say the world is false and merely a projection of mind. Realists says world is as real as it can get - how can an insubstantial mind create such a real world?
Idealists ignore this action/ reaction law. For idealists subject acts by itself - for realists objects acts by itself. They take only one side of the equation.
Action and reaction together produce the phenomenal world.
Object = QO + X
QO = Quality of the object
X = Reality behind the object which is beyond qualities
There is the same reality behind all objects - it can be proved by indirect method (reductio ad absurdum) and direct method (breaking into smaller and smaller components). Vedanta proves this.
Reality according to Vedanta is shuddha Chaitanya or Pure Consciousness. Consciousness is one but what creates apparent differentiation is antakarana or mind - which creates inside versus outside. Hence there appears to be a consciousness which triggers the actions from outside for which consciousness functions through the mind and projects qualities on the objects.
Vednatic Theory of Perception in Brief
1. Pure consciousness conditioned by thoughts becomes the subject.
2. Pure consciousness conditioned by qualities becomes the object.
3. The union of subject and object is perception
Time and space are part of mind's projection. There is no time or space in deep sleep. Every person projects his own equation with respect to time and space. When the equation is gone, there is no longer any time and space.
Even deities have time-space attributes.
- Shiva has Trishul (time) and damru (sound/ space).
- Vishnu has Chakra (time) and shankha (sound/ space).
Vednata's key message: You are not part of the whole. You are the whole. Self can be realized only be personal experience.
From the standpoint of absolute, Reality is absolute and beyond all qualitoes. From the relative standpoint, it is the substratum of all existence. This is to be resolved through the concept of Maya.
The story of Bhasmasura from Purana is used to explain the process of Self-realization.
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