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TLDR: It's easy to explain confusing a rope to be a snake. But how is spatial dimension imagined? Does Brahman have spatial dimension. If yes how is that not Bheda? If no, then how is spatial dimension created by maya?


The classic Advaitha metaphor is the pot and house, Ghatakasha and Matakasha. Where the Space inside House is divided by the wall of Pot into Space inside pot.


The Analogy

Here wall of Pot is the Upadhi, which out of One Space(House Space) demarcates and creates two Spaces(House Space and Pot Space). So if there are many Pots people will think there are many Spaces. But there is only one House Space which is divided by the wall of Pot into multiple Spaces.


Advaitic Explanation

Advaitins say in the same way Upadhi made of Maya, creates multiple entities by demarcating Brahman, and creates the illusion of duality. These multiple entities are an illusion as the Upadhi itself is an illusion as it is made from Maya, so in reality, there is only one entity, Brahman.


Dvaitic Objection

So far so good, but Shri Madhvacharya in his Upadhi Khandana, asks a very interesting and important question.
He says in the analogy offered the Space is equated with Brahman. But Space has spatial difference (Deshiya Bheda). You can travel in Space, you can go from ONE place to ANOTHER place in Space. The wall of Pot only divides this already present Bheda. But in Brahman there is no Bheda, let alone Deshiya Bheda. So what exactly does Maya Upadhi divide?


How does Maya Upadhi create Bheda in Abheda Brahman? This is not explained in the exmaple.

Are there any answers to this objection from the Advaitic tradition? What is it?


The above objection is my paraphrasing of Shri Madhvacharya's objection. In his original work he also discusses a vikalpa and asks questions regarding Upadhi creating Bheda which lead to Anavastha in logic(Argument ad Infinity). I could not quite understand this.

It would be helpful if the answer includes a brief explanation and clarification of the objections raised by him. I here cite a relevant extract of Upadhi Khandana.

The position that Upadhi gives rise to difference is also untenable. Upadhi can only highlight an existing difference and not create it afresh. Like in the case of a pot that could only be a medium to demarcate a region of space that already exists.

If the pot were to create a region in the space afresh, would it do it by contacting a region of space or otherwise? In the former case, one must agree that the region already exists apriori. If the pot could demarcate without contacting the region, then anything can demarcate anything. Also, is the contact of the pot accepted to be only to a region or to the entire space? It cannot act as a demarker if it contacts the entire space. If it is contact a region, that means the space has several such regions by default. If not, there will be an infinite-regress.

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  • The above pot anoligy can be easily explained by volume theory as in srimadvacharya movie where Shyama sastri was replied with water in pot and water in tumbler are not same its volume is increased or decreased by addition or removal of water where the one brahman remains same. If it splits it cannot be same – Prasanna R Jan 31 at 14:20
  • @VARUN.N RAO Sir, sat is defined that is available at all times (trikalaabaadhyami) including waking, dreams and deep sleep. Only Brahman is sat. Suppose water is infinite, water inside a pot broken added to infinity makes it still infinity. There are no upadhis in Brahman. Upadhis appear to create division because of avidya. Space inside pot and outside pot is relative to where you stand. Further, there is no difference in space at any level even if there is a pot. It is only your sensory perception that induces the division. – GIRIBLR Feb 1 at 11:19
  • @VARUN.N RAO In Vivekachudamani, 235, Shankara says: The world has no existence apart from the Supreme Self and the appearance of its separateness is false like the appearance of a snake in a rope. Can a superimposition have any existence apart from its own substratum? Through delusion, it is the substratum itself which appears like that. – GIRIBLR Feb 1 at 11:19
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There are no upadhis in Brahman. Upadhis appear to create division because of avidya. Space inside pot and outside pot is relative to where you stand. Further, there is no difference in space at any level even if there is a pot. It is only your sensory perception or avidya that induces the division.

Panchadasi-2.20 and 21. There are three bhedas: svagata bheda. vijaatiya bheda. sajaatiya bheda. None of them exist in Brahman, which is infinite.

In Vivekachudamani, 235, Shankara says: The world has no existence apart from the Supreme Self and the appearance of its separateness is false like the appearance of a snake in a rope. Can a superimposition have any existence apart from its own substratum? Through delusion, it is the substratum itself which appears like that.

From Sata Sloki of Adi Shankara, Verse 50: Brahman is reflected in the intellect of various jivas. The reflection in water can appear as many but the original is only one. Similarly, the one Supreme Being (Brahman) takes on, by His power of Maya, infinite forms because of being reflected in innumerable intellects.

Another example is what you associate with. Adi Shankara in his Bhasya on Aitareya Upanishad,1.1.1 says Water appears as foam in the sea after its manifestation but foam is nothing but water.

Bubbles, appear separated by time and space, but there is nothing except water.

Brihadaranya Upanisad in 2.5.19. The all-pervading (and non-dual) Brahman appears, due to Maya, as the Jiva, by being reflected in the limiting adjunct (upadhi) in the form of the intellect which, being constituted of Sattva alone, is pure and so capable of reflecting Brahman.

As the jiva is a reflection of Brahman, is in reality non-different from Brahman. The Jivas appear as many, different from one another and limited beings, only because of the limiting upadhi, the intellect, just as the space inside a pot, though not different from the total infinite space, appears limited by the size of the pot.

See the key word Shankara uses that it is infinite space. Addition of space by the pot is an illusion. Just like addition of 1 or 10 to infinity is still infinity.

Panchadasi-3.35, 36, 37: Brahman is not limited in space. It is not limited in time. It is infinite and eternal.

Sata Sloki verse 60: Space exists both before and after a pot is made. It is wrong to think that space inside the pot comes into existence when the pot is made and is destroyed when the pot is destroyed. When an empty pot is moved from one location to another, space appears to move along with it providing a spatial difference. This is wrong. It is infinite space always.

Any astrophysicist will tell you that Spatial differences in space are illusionary. In fact, in large spaces, only space-time exists together and space and time are interwined.

From the translation of Mandukya Karika with commentary

Karika 3.3. When we say that we have built a house, we tend to think that we have created the various room-spaces. All we have done is erected some walls and a roof and it is these which demarcate and separate the space that was already there in an unlimited form. The space itself is totally unaffected by what we have done. Before the house was built, there was space – a single, total space stretching to infinity in all directions. We have erected these walls but the space outside and inside has not changed. And when the house is destroyed, the space will still be there, and will remain quite unaffected by the entire process.

When a new ‘pot-space’ is ‘created’ by the potter’s throwing a new clay pot, we can see that nothing has really happened as far as the space is concerned. Before, there was the total space, and after, there is total space. The only difference is that there is now some clay occupying part of it and seeming to delineate a separate portion. ‘Pot space’ is a mistaken notion. ‘Pot space’ is never created; it is the physical clay pot which is ‘as though’ created.

Karika 3.4 says that, when the pot is broken, the space within ceases to exist as an apparently separate entity. In fact, as already stated, it never was a separate entity. Moving the pot around never moved a discrete space around; rather it was the pot itself which was moved within space.

Karika 3.8 says it is wrong to think that the pot space is a ‘part’ of the total space and that we ourselves are a ‘part’ (or a modification) of Brahman. There is a tendency to think that there is a space ‘inside’ the pot and a different space ‘outside’ the pot. But it is the pot which is in the (total) space, not the other way round. Space cannot have parts. Karika 3.9 concludes the similarities of Self and space.

Avidya causes difference of space/time when none actually exist.

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