Appendix (Part 10)

This article is part 135 of 138 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga


When we have to explain a completely unknown entity to someone, we first try to describe a thing he is familiar with, and at least partially resembles the entity in question. Once the familiar thing is described, we show the differences between the intermediate thing from the original entity we set out to describe. This method of teaching is called adhyāropa-apavāda. Adhyāropa is to superimpose on an object certain characteristics that are not its own; apavāda (does not mean complaint in this context) is to remove the misconceptions.

Suppose a child asks — “What is ghee?”. The mother shows the box of dalda[2]. This is adhyāropa. She imputes ghee-ness to something that looks like ghee but is really not ghee. The child believes that dalda itself is ghee, and remembers what he heard that ghee is good for health. Then she explains that the dalda-ghee that she showed just has fat, colour, texture, and solidifying properties like ghee, but it is not the same as cow’s ghee. This is apavāda. Once the child brings this rescinscion — or apavāda to his mind, his knowledge of ghee becomes good enough to recognise it. At some point in the future, if he happens to acquire ghee, if he eats and experiences its taste, his knowledge of ghee will be complete. Thus, old information becomes the foundation for new learning. Past experience paves the path to future experiences.

This is the teaching method of the Vedas and Vedanta. Parabrahma does not have any form or any activity. Our words cannot describe it. If we are to become familiar with it, we should use some things of which we have knowledge as the means toward understanding it. This is the process of adhyāropa. This process has existed in our philosophical literature even before Śaṅkarācārya’s time.

Let us say that a great man from Punganur has heard of the famous Gokhale Institute and arrives at Bengaluru to visit it. As soon as he gets off the train, he asks where Gokhale Institute is. Someone directs him to Basavanagudi. This is adhyāropa. When he comes to Gandhi Bazaar and asks around, he finds that Gokhale Institute is not there. This is apavāda. The people at Gandhi Bazaar direct him to the Bull temple. This is again adhyāropa. When he visits the temple, he finds that the institute is not there either. The people at the temple direct him further down the road. This is not adhyāropa, because if he walks down from the Bull temple, Gokhale institute will be visible right in front of him. This is sākṣātkāra.

A child wants to see the moon. Is it possible to search the entire sky for it? No. Therefore, the elder carrying the child points at the branch of a tree and asks it to look in that direction. The orb of the moon will be visible in the direction of the branch. Therefore, something that seemed far now seems to be near. This example is called śākhā-candra-nyāya. This is adhyāropa-apavāda.

There is a tradition of showing the star Arundhatī to newlyweds on the evening of their wedding day. Arundhatī is the epitome of pativratā-dharma (the dharma of loyalty to her husband). But it is a very small star and not easily visible. Therefore there is a tactic to spot it. The purohitas first ask the newlyweds to turn towards the north. This is adhyāropa. The north is not Arundhatī. Therefore there is an apavāda for that. Then the saptarṣi-maṇḍala[3] is shown. This is also an adhyāropa; the saptarṣi-maṇḍala is not the Arundhatī; then the purohitas show the Vasiṣṭha star. This is again an adhyāropa, because Vasiṣṭha is not Arundhatī; Arundhatī is Vasiṣṭha’s wife. Therefore another apavāda is required. In the end, the purohitas point towards the tiny star next to Vasiṣṭha. This is how Arundhatī is spotted. This is also a famous example called the Arundhatī-pradarśana-nyāya. This is adhyāropa-apavāda.

The Taittiriyopaniṣat has Bhṛgu Maharṣi’s story. Bhṛgu went to Varuna and requested him to teach him about Brahma. Varuna instructed him thus — “annaṃ brahmeti vyajānāt” — “Consider anna (food that you know very well) as Brahma”. This is an adhyāropa. Bhṛgu thought about and critically examined this instruction. Food nourishes and sustains the body. He realised then that it was not Brahma. Thus, there was an apavāda for the instruction. He again went to Varuṇa and requested him to instruct him further. Varuṇa said “prāṇo brahmeti vyajānāt” — “Consider prāṇa as Brahma”. This is again adhyāropa. Because, Bhṛgu went back and deliberated about it and realized that prāṇa — which is none other than breath or air — is not Brahma. He went back to Varuṇa. Now he was told “mano brahma” — “the manas is Brahma”. From his experience and examination, Bhṛgu realized that this was again an adhyāropa and it had to be rescinded. He prayed to Varuṇa again for instruction. Again, there was an adhyāropa of “vijñānaṃ brahma” — “Vijñāna is Brahma” and that was rescinded too. Because of this experience and critical examination, Bhṛgu became eligible for the highest upadeśa. Then he received the upadeśa : “Ānando brahma … saiṣā parame vyoman pratiṣṭhitā” — “Ānanda is Brahma. It is present in the highest sky”.

This theory was testified by Bhṛgu’s own experience. The statements made in the beginning — such as “annam brahma”, etc., are not falsehoods. They are momentary truths. There is an important place for  physical substances such as food in worldly life. The upaniṣat also praises this. As indicators of the greatness of Brahma, they are also venerable. They are useful as the means to ascend to the state of Brahma.

The process of adhyāropa-apavāda can be seen and understood in the following verses of the Bhagavadgītā —

Chapter 7, jñāna-vijñāna-jagat-jīva-Īsvara-yoga, pp 239-246
Chapter 9, rājavidyā-rājaguhya-brahma-jagat-saṃbandha-yoga, pp 276-287
Chapter 13, kṣetra-kṣetrajña-prakṛti-puruṣa-viveka-yoga, pp.349-352

Consider the following statements.

tasya kartāramapi mām viddhy-akartāram-avyayam ॥ BG 4.13
me… prakṛtiraṣṭadhā॥ - BG 7-4
raso’ham apsu ॥ - BG 7-8
jīvanaṃ sarva-bhūteṣu ॥  - BG 7-9
bījaṃ māṃ sarva-bhūtānām॥ - BG 7-10
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni ॥ - BG 9-4
na ca mat-sthāni bhūtāni ॥ -BG 9-5
na sat tan-nāsad-ucyate ॥ - BG 13-12
mamaivāṃśo jīvaloke ॥ - BG 15-7

Many statements like the above appear to be mutually inconsistent and opposite. In some places, it is said that the paravastu does not have any form : “avyakto’yam acintyo’yam। avikāryo’yam” (2-25); in some other places it is said that it has many forms (as seen in the above statements); in some places it is said to be without any activity; in others it is said that it is responsible for all the activities of the universe. If we look at these statements as adhyāropa-apavāda, the incongruencies disappear and they become the means to realisation of reality.

We are all familiar with the immediate world around us. That is prakṛti. Our deliberation starts from there. The main stages are as below.

1. Adhyāropa: The universe is Brahma, because it is a work of Brahma. The product is just another form of the origin. Thus, the whole universe is a manifestation of Brahma.
Apavāda: The universe is a conglomeration of things that are liable to change and destruction. Brahma is unchanging, eternal. The characteristics of the universe do not match with those of Brahma.

2. Adhyāropa: The jīva energizes inanimate objects of the universe. The jīva, which is hidden within the physically perceptible body, is an aspect of Brahma-consciousness. That is Brahma.
Apavāda: The jīva performs many karmas and attains puṇya and pāpa. But Brahma is unattached. It is neither the doer nor the enjoyer.

3. Adhyāropa: Shouldn’t there be a master to rule over the universe and protect his devotees? That master is Īśvara. He is Brahma.
Apavāda: Īśvara is associated with prakṛti. Therefore he is not pure Brahma.

4.  Adhyāropa: Prakṛti is an organ of Brahma. “me prakṛtiḥ”, “mayā-tatam-idam
Apavāda: Prakṛti is only a playful activity or līlā of Brahma. It is not an organ of Brahma. Therefore, it does not find a place in the eternal and complete existence of Brahma.

The deliberation continues thus in steps. The adhyāropa-statements above are not falsehoods. They are partly true, and are also illusory truths. They require further refinement. The refinements come from the apavāda-statements. An easy thing is pointed at and we are asked to recognise it. Once that is done, we are asked to move beyond it. Once that is also done, we move further beyond. Finally, the principle is comprehended, speech stops.

adhyāropāpavādābhyāṃ niṣprapañcaṃ prapañcyate ॥
(Attributed to Bhagavān Upavarṣa)

Brahma is devoid of form, quality, activity or modification. Ascribing a form to it is limiting; activity is change in form; guṇa is a result of activity. These are the characteristics of the things in the physical universe. Brahma does not have any of these limitations. It is infinite.
Just as a father enjoys watching his children playing, even though he doesn’t take part in them, Paramātmā is a pure witness watching the play of the universe, without participating in it. How can such a profound mystery be explained without a proper pedagogical method?

To be continued...

The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.


[1]Superimposition and rescinsion.

[2]A kind of margarine made of vegetable oils. It was very commonly used as an inexpensive alternative to ghee.

[3]The great bear



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.


Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

Prekshaa Publications

Among the many contributions of ancient Indians to world thought, perhaps the most insightful is the realisation that ānanda (Bliss) is the ultimate goal of human existence. Since time immemorial, India has been a land steeped in contemplation about the nature of humans and the universe. The great ṛṣis (seers) and ṛṣikās (seeresses) embarked on critical analysis of subjective experience and...

One of the two great epics of India and arguably the most popular epic in the world, the Ramayana has enchanted generations of people not just in Greater India but the world over. In less than three hundred pages The Essential Ramayana captures all the poetic subtleties and noble values of the original and offers the great epic in an eminently readable form that will appeal to the learned and...

The Bhagavad-gītā isn’t merely a treatise on ultimate liberation. It is also a treatise on good living. Even the laity, which does not have its eye on mokṣa, can immensely benefit from the Gītā. It has the power to grant an attitude of reverence in worldly life, infuse enthusiasm in the execution of duty, impart fortitude in times of adversity, and offer solace to the heart when riddled by...

Indian Perspective of Truth and Beauty in Homer’s Epics is a unique work on the comparative study of the Greek Epics Iliad and Odyssey with the Indian Epics – Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Homer, who laid the foundations for the classical tradition of the West, occupies a stature similar to that occupied by the seer-poets Vālmīki and Vyāsa, who are synonymous with the Indian culture. The author...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the sixth volume of reminiscences character sketches of prominent public figures, liberals, and social workers. These remarkable personages hailing from different corners of South India are from a period that spans from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Written in Kannada in the 1970s, these memoirs go...

An Introduction to Hinduism based on Primary Sources

Authors: Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh, Hari Ravikumar

What is the philosophical basis for Sanātana-dharma, the ancient Indian way of life? What makes it the most inclusive and natural of all religio-philosophical systems in the world?

The Essential Sanātana-dharma serves as a handbook for anyone who wishes to grasp the...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fifth volume, episodes from the lives of traditional savants responsible for upholding the Vedic culture. These memorable characters lived a life of opulence amidst poverty— theirs  was the wealth of the soul, far beyond money and gold. These vidvāns hailed from different corners of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and lived in...

Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam represents the quintessence of Sage Bharata’s art and Bhārata, the country that gave birth to the peerless seer of the Nāṭya-veda. Padma’s erudition in various streams of Indic knowledge, mastery over many classical arts, deep understanding of the nuances of Indian culture, creative genius, and sublime vision bolstered by the vedāntic and nationalistic...

Bhārata has been a land of plenty in many ways. We have had a timeless tradition of the twofold principle of Brāhma (spirit of wisdom) and Kṣāttra (spirit of valour) nourishing and protecting this sacred land. The Hindu civilisation, rooted in Sanātana-dharma, has constantly been enriched by brāhma and safeguarded by kṣāttra.
The renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R...

ಛಂದೋವಿವೇಕವು ವರ್ಣವೃತ್ತ, ಮಾತ್ರಾಜಾತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ಷಣಜಾತಿ ಎಂದು ವಿಭಕ್ತವಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಬಗೆಯ ಛಂದಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನೂ ವಿವೇಚಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಬಂಧಗಳ ಸಂಕಲನ. ಲೇಖಕರ ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲಿಕ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯ ಸಾರವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ಈ ಹೊತ್ತಗೆ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಛಂದಸ್ಸಿನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ತೌಲನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಃಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಯನಗಳ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಬರೆಹಗಳೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಕಾರನಿಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಹಸ್ತನಾದ ಕವಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಫುರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳು ಕೃತಿಯ ಮೌಲಿಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿವೆ. ಈ...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...