Siddhi Traya – Saṃvatsiddhi (Part 1)

Śrīmathē śatakōpāya namaḥ
Śrīmathē rāmānujāya namaḥ
Śrīmath varavaramunayē namaḥ
Śrī vānāchala mahāmunayē namaḥ


The line of our early Āchāryas, also known as Sampradāya Pravartaka Āchāryas, is crowned by the appearance of Rāmānuja. Yet, Rāmānuja’s great contributions were not possible without the foundations laid by his great preceptor Yāmunāchārya.

Scholars have found that Rāmānuja’s opus magnum, his comment on the Brahma Sūtras called Śrī Bhāṣya, extensively quotes and paraphrases points made by Yāmunāchārya in his three short philosophical works:

  • Saṃvatsiddhi, a work that proves that the world we perceive is real (and not essentially an illusion, as argued by the Advaita school).
  • Āthmasiddhi, a work that proves the existence of the Āthma (which is also seen as not actually existent by the Advaita school).
  • Īśvarasiddhi, a work that proves the existence of Īśvara, a God that has attributes of a person (and is not a completely impersonal and abstract entity as put forward by the Advaita school).

Probably because the essence of these works is contained in the Śrī Bhāṣya, the fact that the above works by Yāmunāchārya were preserved in a rather incomplete manner and have seen little attention in the last centuries has not bothered the Śrī Vaiṣnava community much. Our interest in these works was kindled when we came across a book about Saṃvatsiddhi by an Austrian Researcher [1], which is only available in German. There is a whole series of books and articles about the early texts of our Sampradaya published in German by a scholar named Gerhard Oberhammer and his PhD candidates / research assistants. We have already mentioned and used these books to provide additional background to the translation of Yāmunāchārya’s Chatuḥślōkī.

We share the general reluctance amongst Hindus in considering academic opinions on our religion. This is because a lot of research is made with a certain hyper-sceptic rationalist-atheist mindset, which is not at all receptive for the deep meanings and subtleties our spiritual heritage has. However, reading the works of Oberhammer, we cannot find that he (or his affiliated researchers) follow such an agendea. Their aim is to shed light on the theological and philosophical genesis of our lineage and they do so in a respectful way.

The book on Saṃvatsiddhi we found seeks to reconstruct as much of the content as possible. This is done by looking for references from the existing fragments to lost parts of the text, as well by comparing the text to sections of the Śrī Bhāṣya with similar content. Since Rāmānuja has build on Yāmunā’s works and likely had them in complete form, the Śrī Bhāṣya could contain glimpses into the lost parts of Saṃvatsiddhi.

Text structure

Here is the general structure of the text, as far as can be inferred / reconstructed from the available palm leafs.

Lost: Mangala verses / saluations to Yāmunāchārya’s Āchārya Rāma Miṣra (Maṇakāl Nambi).
Section 1: The reality of the world
Lost: A detailed exposition of the opposing Advaita argument. The researcher infers that the early Advaita scholar Maṇḍanamiśra (around 700 C.E.) could be the main proponent of the views Yāmuna seeks to rebuke, as this scholar rejected the view that cognition via the senses can be a proper basis for difference, i.e. for non-advaitic standpoints.
Lost: Arguments leading the discussion from whether the world has any degree of reality to the question whether the world has an existence of its own, i.e. if it is in any meaningful way different from Brahman. Most likely, the opposing view is presenting the statement ekam eva advitīyaṃ brahma as reason why this is not the case.
Preserved: Argumentation of Yāmuna why „there is no world different from Brahman“ is not the proper meaning of ekam eva advitīyaṃ .
Preserved: Jaina and other arguments that the world is both nonexistuing and existing or neither of both
Partly preserved: Argumentation of Yāmuna that the Sāṃkhya view resolves this.
– Article part 1 ends here –
Section 2: The reality of the perceiver of the world
Lost: Arguments about the entity which perceives the word, leading to a discussion about tat tvam asi
Preserved: Yāmuna refutes the view that tat and tvam have an identical mode of being, hence the quest of making deductions about the world is meaningful – as there is a proper agent for that quest.
Section 3: The validiy of deductions about the world
Preserved: Yāmuna presents the view that it is possible to draw meaningful conclusions from observations of the world
Preserved: Presentation of advaitic / crytpo-Buddhist views that this is not possible
Preserved: Yāmuna refutes these views with side discussions on the nature and foundations of Avidiya, a core principle of Advaita teachings.
– Article part 2 (to be written) ends here –
Preserved: Presentation of orthodox Buddhist views on the impossibility of deductions on the world (essentially, that the world is resulting from consciousness and has no reality beyond that)
Partly preserved: Yāmuna pointing to logical inconstencies in this view. As Buddhists are not accepting the Vedas or Vedic sciences like Mīmāṃsā, the discussion here is purely based on logic. The surviving text breaks off at some point.
Preserved: Discussions around whether it would be possible to identify defects in the perception of the world according to Yāmuna’s arguments.
Lost: final conclusions, closing remarks

The current beginning and lost sections

All available palm leafs start with ekamevādvitīyaṃ tadbrahmetyupaniṣadvacaḥ (though some have some invocations prior to it) i.e. with an argument on the meaning of an important verse from the Chāndogya Upaniṣad:

सदेव सोम्येदमग्र आसीदेकमेवाद्वितीयम् ।
तद्धैक आहुरसदेवेदमग्र आसीदेकमेवाद्वितीयं तस्मादसतः सज्जायत ॥ ६.२.१ ॥

sadeva somyedamagra āsīdekamevādvitīyam |
taddhaika āhurasadevedamagra āsīdekamevādvitīyaṃ tasmādasataḥ sajjāyata || 6.2.1 ||

You will find this part usually quoted as ekam eva advitīyaṃ brahma and this is also the subject of disucssion here.

The available text starts with a summary of the argument Yāmuna seeks to refute, called Pūrvapakṣa in the vedic science of logic and argumentation (Mīmāṃsā). Mīmāṃsā requires that before a Pūrvapakṣa, an exposition of the opposing argument is to be made (called Saṃśaya) and before that, a quotation of the vedic text on which the argument is made (called Viṣayavākya) is required.

So, at the very least, Saṃśaya and Viṣayavākya were lost. But shortly after the discussions about ekam eva advitīyaṃ brahma, Yāmuna refers to other arguments he has refuted in detail. Hence, the researcher concludes that a whole section with Yāmuna’s proposition, counter arguments, Yāmuna’s arguments against these arguments and his conclusion has been lost, which came before the lost Saṃśaya and Viṣayavākya on ekam eva advitīyaṃ brahma.

Within the text, the text breaks off at two instances, as it jumps to unrelated discussions from a consistent stream of arguments. Also at the end, the text stops without any concluding remarks. This means that besides start and end, also two sections of palm leafs from within the text were likely lost, as shown in the summary table above.

The researcher finds evidence that all existing palm leafs were all copied from a single source in bad shape, as they share certain strange / implausible words at some points, which could be explained as result of writers (who were focused on copying the words and not on their meaning) inferring words at places where the source palm leaf was unreadable. Also, there is a strange break and later contiuation of an argument in all existing palm leafs, which is likely the result of the order of source palm leaf being mixed up (there is no numbering).

Knowing that texts located in Śrī Raṇgam (and other temples) had to be taken out in a rush to save them from the destruction by Muslim invadors, it is not hard to imagine how a loss of palm leafs and the mix up of certain leafs could have happened.

Existing text (consolidated) and translation

Section 1: The reality of the world

subsection: does the world have a meaningful existence of its own?

We give a numbering of the verses for better orientation. As mentioned, the original text has no verse numbers.

ekam evādvitīyaṃ tad brahmety upaniṣadvacaḥ |
brahmaṇo ’nyasya sabdbhāvaṃ nanu tat prariṣadhati || 1
atra brūmo ‚dvitīyoktau samāsaḥ ko vivakṣitaḥ |
kiṃsvit tatpuruṣaḥ kiṃ vā bahuvrīhir athocyatām || 2

The statment ekam evādvitīyaṃ, this Brahman is one only, advitīyaṃ, made in the Upaniad, negates the existence of anything different from Brahman.
We respond to this: Which [Sanskrit] compound is meant with advitīyaṃ, shall we call it a Tatpuruṣa [Samas] or a Bahuvrīhi [Samas]?

pūrvasminn uttaras tāvat prādhānyena vivakṣyate |
padārthas tatra tad brahma tato ’nyat sadṛśaṃ tu vā || 3
tadviruddam atho vā syāt triṣv apy anayan na bādhate |
anyatve sadṛśatve vā dvirtīyaṃ siddhyati dhruvam ||

The ending part [of a word] is considered superior to the beginning (the scholar references grammarian Patañjali’s work Mahābhāṣya II.1.6 as a source for this statement). The subject of the word is the Brahman. Something different from him, similar to it, or something that is in opposition are all conceivable. In all three cases something other is not impossible. Both in difference and similarity, there is a second.

viruddhatve dvitīyena tṛtīyaṃ prathamaṃ tu vā |
brahma prāpnoti yasmāttat dvitīyena virudhyate || 5
ataḥ saprathamāḥ sarve tṛtīyādyartharāśayaḥ |
dvitīyena tathā spṛṣṭvā svasthāstiṣṭhantyabādhitāḥ ||

If Brahman is in opposition to a second, Brahman has a third to it or is the one, as there is only opposition to the second. [We have to keep in mind that Sanskrit has a distinct dual case, which is used in the statement].
So together with the one, all other groups of objects beginning with the third are not revoked, if they are in contact with the second.

nanu nañ brahmaṇo ’nyasya sarvasyaiva niṣedhakam |
dvitīyagrahaṇaṃ yasmāt sarvasyavopalakṣaṇam || 7
naivaṃ viṣedho na hy asmād dvidīyasyāvagamyate |
tato ’nyat tadviruddhaṃ vā sadṛśaṃ vātra vakti saḥ || 8

(Likely objection by the opponent) The negation (advitīyaṃ) includes everything different from Brahman, as the expression „a second“ means everything else by implication.
(Response by Yāmuāchārya) This is not the case. It does not exclude a second. This [Tatpuruṣa Samas] means here something different from him, something in opposition to him or something similar.

dvitīyaṃ yasya naivāsti tadbrahmeti vivakṣite |
satyādilakṣaṇoktīnām apalakṣaṇatā bhavet || 9
advitīye dvitīyārthanāstitāmātragocare |
svaniṣṭhatvān nañarthasya na syād brahmapadānvayaḥ || 10

If the meaning is „only that which does not have a second, this is Brahman“, the [Śruti] statements like satya would be no meaningful characterization. (Because Brahman would be mainly defined by an attribute (no second), not by his inherent properties).
Would advitīyaṃ just relate to the non-existence of a second object, the meaning of the negation particle would relate to itsself and not to the word Brahman.

dvitīyaśūnyatā tatra brahmaṇo na viśeṣaṇam |
viśeṣaṇe vā tadbrahma tṛtīyaṃ prathamaṃ tu vā || 11
prasaktaṃ pūrvavatsarvaṃ bahurvīhau samasyati |
brahmaṇaḥ prathamā ye ca tṛtīyādyā jagatrtraye || 12

brahma praty advitīyatvāt svasthās tiṣṭhanty abādhitāḥ |

In this case the not-having-a-second not is no attributive definition of Brahman, and if it would be a definition, Brahman would be a first or a third.
Everything (that was said in relation to advitīyaṃ being a Tatpuruṣa Samas) follows necessarily if we understand advitīyaṃ as Bahuvrīhi Samas. Because [Brahman is] free from a second, the first, third etc [group of things] which relate to Brahman in the threefold world, remain unchanged and uncanceled.

kiṃca tatra bahuvrīhau samāse saṃśrite sati || 13
vṛttyarthasya nañarthasya na padārthāntarānvayaḥ |
saty arthāntarasambandhe ṣaṣṭhī yasyeti yujyate || 14

And if we take the Bahuvrīhi for that part, the meaning of the Sama, if it has the meaning of a negation, has no sytactic relation to another word. (The scholar references Pāṇini II.2.24 as source of this rule). [Only] if a connection to another object esists, the Genitive „whose is“ is correct.

dvitīyavastunāstitvaṃ na brahma na viśeṣaṇam |
asattvānna hyasadbrahma bhavennāpi viśeṣaṇam || 15
tasmātprapañcasadbhāvo nādvaitaśrutibādhitaḥ |
svapramāṇabalātsiddhaḥ śrutyā cāpyanumoditaḥ || 16

The non-being of a second thing is neither Brahman nor an attributive defintion [of Brahman]. Because it is not, the non-being cannot be Brahman or his attributive defintion.
Hence, the reality of senses is not cancelled by this Śruti statement on „non-duality“, instead it is confirmed by the appropriate means of cognition [our perception] and confirmed by the Śruti.

tenādvitīyaṃ brahmeti śruter artho ‚yam ucyate |
dvitīyagaṇanāyogyo nāsīdasti bhaviṣyati || 17
samo vābhyadhiko vāsya yo dvitīyastugaṇyate |
yato ’sya vibhavavyūhakalāmātram idaṃ jagat || 18

The Śruti statement [ekam eva advitīyaṃ brahma] thus means that there is no second [object] to be mentioned besides him – in the past, present or future.
But only that is counted as second, which is at the same level as him or superior. As this world is but a tiny fragment of his unfolding – how could it cound as second to him?

dvitīyavāgāspadatāṃ pratipadyeta tat katham |
yathā colanṛpaḥ samrāḍadvitīyo ‚dya bhūtale || 19
iti tattulyanṛpatinivāraṇaparaṃ vacaḥ |
na tu tadbhṛtyatatputrakalatrādiniṣedhakam || 20
tathā surāsuranarabrahmabrahmāṇḍakoṭayaḥ |
kleśakarmavipākādyair aspṛṣṭasyākhileśituḥ || 21
jñānādiṣāṅguṇyanidher acintyavibhavasya tāḥ |
viṣṇor vibhūtimahimasamudradrapsavipruṣaḥ || 22

As the claim „the Cola king is the soverein over the world without a second“ has the purpose to exclude a [second] king with similar power, but not [the existence of] ministers, sons, wifes etc.
Similarly [the statement ekam eva advitīyaṃ brahma does not exclude] millions of Devas, Demons, Humans, Brahmās, Brahmāṇḍas, which are but a drop in the ocean of Viṣṇus power, unaffected by impurities, [good and bad] deeds and their results etc, lord of all and quintessence of the six qualities, knowledge etc and majestic beyond words.

kaḥ khalvaṅgulibhaṅgena samudrān saptasaṅkhyā |
gaṇayan gaṇayedūrmiphenabudbudavipruṣaḥ || 23
yathaika eva savitā na dvitīyo nabhaḥsthale |
ityuktā na hi sāvitrā niṣidhyante ‚tra raśmayaḥ || 24

Who would, if he counts the oceans, seven in number, with the help of his fingers, also count the droplets of foam and bubbles?
Also the existence of rays is not contested by the statement „there is just one sun and no second at the sky“.

yathā pradhānasaṅkhyeyasaṅkhyāyāṃ naiva gaṇyate |
saṅkhyā pṛthaksatī tatra saṅkhyeyānyapadārthavat || 25
tathā, pādo ’sya viśvā bhūtāni tripādasyāmṛtaṃ divi |
iti bruvan jagatsarvamitthambhāve nyaveśayat || 26

As a number that is existing separately is not counted is within a set of numbers or an object different from that we seek to count, also the [Śruti] teaching „all beings are one-fourth of him; his otherthree-fourths, immortal, in heaven“ (Rig Veda 10.90.3 (Puruṣa Sukta)) includes the whole world in its so-being.

tathā, etāvān asya mahimā tato jyāyastaro hi saḥ |
yatrānyan na vijānāti sa bhūmodaram antaram |
kurute ’sya bhayaṃ vyaktamityādiśrutayaḥ parāḥ || 27
meror ivāṇur yasyedaṃ brahmāṇḍam akhilaṃ jagat |
ityādikāḥ samastasya taditthambhāvatāparāḥ || 28

Similarly, other places in Śruti teach „so grand is his majesty, he is indeed more powerful than this [world].“, „Where you cannot recognize anything else, there is the highest being“, „If he makes a difference, fear is recognised by him“. Also places like „Of the brahmāṇḍa (a complete universe with heavens, mid-worlds like this one and hells) this world is like an atom to mount Meru. All of this relates to everything being in his being.

vācārambhaṇamātraṃ tu jagat sthāvarajaṅgamam |
vikārajātaṃ, kūṭasthaṃ mūlakāraṇameva sat || 29
ananyat kāraṇāt kāryaṃ pāvakād visphuliṅgavat |
mṛttikālohabījādinānādṛṣṭāntavistaraiḥ || 30

Being Modification, the moving an unmoving world is just based on the word. The immutable root-cause is being. The effect is not different from the cause, as the spark is not different from the fire.

nāśakad dagdhum analas tṛṇaṃ majjayituṃ jalam |
na vāyuścalituṃ śaktaḥ tacchaktyāpyāyanādṛte || 31
ekapradhānavijñānād vijñātam akhilaṃ bhavet |
ityādivedavacanatanmūlāptāgamairapi || 32

brahmātmanā’tmalābho ‚yaṃ prapañcaścidacinmayaḥ |
iti pramīyate brāhmī vibhūtirna niṣidhyate || 33

By the abundance of different examples like of clay, iron, seed and by statements in scripture like „by the swelling of its power, fire could not burn gras, water could not sink it, wind was unable to shake it“. „By the recognition of a highest everything else would be known“. (The first point likely refers Chandogya Upanishad section 6.1, verse 4 (yathā somyaikena mṛtpiṇḍena …) while the second refers to the story of Agni not being able to ignite a blade of grass and Vayu not being able blow it away told in Kena Upanishad part 3 beginning with verse 16. ) By these texts and authoritaive texts based on them it is recognised that this world, which us made up of spiritual and non-spiritual things, gets its being from Brahman being their self. Hence, the power of Brahman to bring things into being is not negated.

tanniṣedhe samastasya mithyātvāllokavedayoḥ |
vyavahārās tu lupyeran tathā syādbrahmadhīr api || 34
vyāvahārikasatyatvān mṛṣātve ‚py aviruddhatā |
pratyakṣāder iti mataṃ prāgeva samadūduṣam || 35

Negating this would make everything untrue and destroy the meandingful use of words – both in worldy and Vedic context. The same would be true for the perception of Brahman. The teaching that perception and other means of knowledge are untrue while not in conflict with the perception of the world has already been refuted.

ataś copaniṣajjātabrahmādvaitadhitadhiyā jagat |
na bādhyate vibhūtitvādbrahmaṇaś cety avasthitam || 36

Hence we conclude that perception via the senses is not canceled by the Upanishad statement that Brahman does not have a second. Instead, it is the unfolding of the creative power of Brahman.

Subsection: discussion of claims that the world does not actually exist

nanu sattve prapañcasya nāstīti pratyayaḥ katham |
asattve vā kathaṃ tasminnastīti pratyayo bhavet || 37

But if the world is existing, how can the idea „it exists not“ come about? And vice versa, if the world is non-existing, how can the idea „it does exist“ come about? One thing that is existing and non-existing is impossible.

sadasattvaṃ tathaikasya viruddhatvād asambhavi |
sadasatpratyayaprāptaviruddhadvandvasaṅgame || 38
tayor anyatarārthasya niścayābhāvahetutaḥ |
sadasattvaṃ prapañcasya jainās tu pratipedire || 39

Because of the occurance of this conflicting pair of statements, which is generated by the idea of existing and non-existing, a decision [which one is correct] cannot be made, and hence the Jainas claim that the world is existing and non-existing.

sattvaprāptiṃ puraskṛtya nāstīti pratyayodayāt |
sadā sattvaṃ prapañcasya sāṅkhyās tu pratipedire || 40
sadasatpratyaya prāptaviruddhadvandvasaṅkaṭe |
virodhaparihārārthaṃ sattvāsatatvāṃśabhaṅgataḥ |
sadasadbhyām anirvācyaṃ prapañcaṃ kecid ūcire || 41

In contrast to this, the Sāṃkhyas always accepted that the world is everlasting because the idea „it exists not“ can only be formed after the existence was recognized. In order to resolve incompatibility in case of a narrow[ly defined] duality, which comes due to the ideas of existing and non-existing, some – because they discarded both parts of the statement – said that the world is neither existing nor nonexisting.

sattvāsattve vibhāgena deśakālādibhedataḥ |
ghaṭāderiti manvānā vyavasthāmapare jaguḥ || 42
tadevaṃ vādisammardāt saṃśaye samupasthite |
nirṇayaḥ kriyate tatra mīmāṃsakamatena tu || 43

Others insist that things like a pot are sepaerately existing and non-existing because of differences in space and time. But while the representants of the different schools wear each other out in arguments, we still come to a conclusion with the help of the teachings of Mīmāṃsa.

ghaṭasvarūpe nāstitvamastitvaṃ yadyabūbudhat |
syādeva yugapatsattvamasattvaṃ ca ghaṭādiṣu || 44
idānīm idam atrāsti nāstītyevaṃvidhā yataḥ |
deśakāladaśābhedād astināstīti no dhiyaḥ || 45

If one has with regard to the nature of the pot recognized that it exists and does not exist, a parallel occurrence and non-occurrence of the pot and other things could exist. Our concepts of „it exists“ and „it exists not“ are as follows: [We think] „now it exists here“ or „now it exists here not“, hence we have the idea about the pot etc that it exists or does not exist in distinctions of space and time.

ato deśādibhedena sadasattvaṃ ghaṭādiṣu |
vyavasthitaṃ nirastatvād vādasyeha na sambhavaḥ || 46
nanu deśādisambandhaḥ sata evopapadyate |
na deśakālasambandhādasataḥ sattvam iṣyate || 47

The Jaina teaching (that the world is existing and non exististing at the same time) is thus not possible and was refuted.
[Objection] The connection with factors like space and time is only possible for things in being. We do not assume that non-being things come into being due to connections with space and time.

sambadho dvyāśrayastasmātsataḥ sattvaṃ sadā bhavet |
asataḥ kārakaiḥ sattvaṃ janmanetyatidurghaṭam || 48
ādyantavān prapañco ‚taḥ satkakṣyāntarniveśyate |
uktaṃ ca – ādāvante ca yannāsti nāsti madhye ‚pi tattathā iti |
ato niścitasadbhāvaḥ sadā sann abhyuyeyatām || 49

Connections have two real substrates . Hence, something that exists is always existing. But that something non-being comes into being due to causal factors is utterly imposssible.
The world of senses with its beginning and end hence falls into the area of the being. Because it is taught „what does neither exist in the beginning nor the end, does not exists in between“. (This may refer to statements like Bhagavad Gīta Chapter 2. verse 16: „The unreal has no being, the real has no non-being. The essence of both is seen by the truth-seers“.)
Hence, that what is found to be being is always being.

asataḥ sarvadāsattvaṃ janyayogāt khapuṣpavat |
asattve na viśeṣo ’sti prāgatyantāsator iha || 50

That what is non-being is always non-being due to the impossibility of coming into being. On that what is non-being, there is no difference between a previous non-being and a permanent non-being.

With the next verse, the discussion jumps to the topic of the meaning of the mahavakya tat tvam asi. The scholar argues that this jump makes no sense from the perspective of the preceding discussion, hence it is an indication for a lost section of the Saṃvatsiddhi. We agree with him. The discusussion on tat tvam asi will be presented in Saṃvatsiddhi Part 2.

Adiyēn Mādhava Rāmānuja Dāsan


[1] Yāmunācāryas Saṃvatsiddhi – Kritische Edition, Übersetzung und Anmerkungen. Mit einem Rekonstruktionsversuch der verlorenen Abschnitte – Roqie Mesquita, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Wien 1988

Autor: koyildeutschland

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