The Fundamental Error – Adhyasa

It is very clear to everyone that he has three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. His experiences in all these states vary. In waking and dream, he is having several thoughts and is happy as well as sad depending on situation. However, he does not have thoughts in the deep sleep. Further, he is quite happy there. This is evident from his statement in waking state which he makes after getting up from deep sleep – ‘I did not know anything, I slept happily’. However, one does not doubt his own existence there because otherwise this statement of experience could not be made. One has to be there in deep sleep so as to make this experiential statement of absence of knowledge and happiness later.

Now, it is a matter of fact that I am connected to the body and mind in the waking state while I am disconnected from them in the deep sleep. Due to the connection, I am having the knowledge of outside stuff and therefore, in waking state, I am given a name of Bahishprajna by Shastra. In the deep sleep, I have no connection with the body and mind and both are dysfunctional (except Prana working), I am all alone. I myself in deep sleep am referred as Pratyagatma by Shastra. Body, senses, mind, Buddhi, chitta, Ahamkara and the external world are referred as kshetra by Shastra.

Now, it is an experiential statement that I did not know anything in deep sleep. But what is the source of this knowledge. There is nothing apart from myself in deep sleep. Hence, it means that source of this knowledge is I myself. That is, I have this ability to know despite the lack of functioning of Buddhi. That is, I know the absence of knowledge in the deep sleep all by myself without any instrument and without any action of knowing. Thus, jnana-kriya-rahita-jnatritva is my own dharma.

Further, I was brimming with happiness in deep sleep without any vishaya. This means that bhoga-kriya-rahit-anandamayatva is my own dharma. Thus, विदि-भोग-क्रिया-रहित-ज्ञातृत्व-आनंदमयत्व  are two dharma of Pratyagatma (Mandukya). Since it knows the absence of kshetra in sushupti, it alone has to witnesses the functioning of kshetra later. Hence, this Pratyagatma is kshetrajna. This kshetrajna, who knows kshetra, knows it without jnana-kriya. It is just a witness to activity and lack of activity of kshetra without any activity of knowing.

Now, Bahishprajna does not know the swaroopa of either kshetrajna or kshetra. Both kshetrajna and kshetra are identical in their swaroopa. But as kshetra and kshetrajna, they have different properties.


  • Black, white, tall, fat, thin – body
  • Seeing, touching, hearing, tasting, smelling – senses
  • Happy, sad, agitated – mind
  • Intelligent, dumb – Buddhi


  • Jnana-kriya-rahita-jnatritva
  • Bhoga-kriya-rahita-anandamayatva

Now, since the Bahishprajna does not know the swaroopa of either kshetra or kshetrajna, he confuses and mistakes the property of one for other. Thus, he sees the properties of kshetra in kshetrajna and the properties of kshetrajna in kshetra. This confusion and incorrect attribution of properties is known as Adhyasa.

Thus, he sees the properties of kshetra in kshetrajna (Forward Adhyasa) and properties of kshetrajna in kshetra (Reverse Adhyasa).

Examples of Forward Adhyasa

Here there are further two branches. First one is that wherein the dharma of kshetra, which are not kriya, is imposed and second where the dharma of kshetra involving kriya is imposed.

  • I am tall. I am fat. I am thin. (Body) I am deaf. I am blind. (Senses) I am happy. I am sad. I am agitated. (Mind) I am intelligent. (Buddhi) —- First type of Forward Adhyasa
  • I am jumping. I am seeing. I am thinking. I am deciding. I am doing. I am knowing. I am enjoying. —- Second type of Forward Adhyasa

Both of these are incorrect knowledge. The kshetrajna is different from kshetra and yet the properties of kshetra are superimposed on kshetrajna. Thus, the attribution of kartritva-bhoktritva-jnatritva is because of Forward Adhyasa of karana-kriya, which is kshetra-dharma, in kshetrajna. It is thus clear that kartritva-jnatritva-bhoktritva is a consequence of Adhyasa.   

Thus, we see that Adhyasa of jnatritva is done in kshetrajna. Jnana-kriya is kshetra-dharma. The jnatritva which is kshetrajna-dharma is not this jnatritva but jnana-kriya-rahita-jnatritva.

Thus, seeing jnatritva in kshetrajna is Adhyasa. Seeing jnana-kriya-rahita-jnatritva in kshetrajna is correct knowledge. That is not the knowledge of swaroopa of kshetrajna but correct identification of dharma of kshetrajna in kshetrajna itself.

So, the statement – ‘I did not know anything in deep sleep. I slept happily in deep sleep’ – does the Forward Adhyasa of jnatritva and bhoktritva in kshetrajna.


  • Knowing and not knowing are the jnana-kriya, the kriya of Buddhi which is a kshetra-dharma. Doing the Adhyasa of this kshetra-dharma in kshetrajna, Bahishprajna says ‘I did not know anything in deep sleep’. This he does identifying with the jnana-kriya of Buddhi. So, jnana-kriya was absent in deep sleep due to the absence of functioning of Buddhi AND Bahishprajna does the Adhyasa of this in kshetrajna and hence stated that I was not knowing anything in deep sleep. Similarly, he says ‘I am knowing in waking state’ by identifying with jnana-kriya of Buddhi. Thus, Adhyasa of jnatritva which is consequent on superimposition of jnana-kriya of Buddhi on kshetrajna is the result of Forward Adhyasa.
  • Similarly, bhoga-kriya-rahita-ananadamayatva is the dharma of kshetrajna. And there is no kriya of enjoying. However, Bahishprajna makes the statement ‘I slept happily’ and does the Adhyasa of bhoktritva on Kshetrajna.

It is important to understand that Bahishprajna first does this Forward Adhyasa. He understands himself as jnata, karta, bhokta. Having understood himself in such a fashion, when he goes through the teaching of Adhyasa Bhashya, he understands his mistake that he was committing a blunder by doing Forward Adhyasa. He thus understands that he does not have either jnana-kriya-sahtia-jnatritva nor kriya-sahtia-katritva nor bhoga-kriya-sahita-bhoktritva. Rather, he has jnana-kriya-rahita-jnatritva etc.

Having understood himself as thus, he now commits Reverse Adhyasa.

Examples of Reverse Adhyasa

In the Reverse Adhyasa, the dharmas of kshetrajna are superimposed on kshetra. As we saw, the dharmas of kshetrajna are jnana-kriya-rahita-jnatritva and bhoga-kriya-rahita-anandamayatva.

  • Bahishprajna sees the sukha in vishaya and thus attributes the dharma of anandamayatva in kshetra.
  • Bahishprajna states that ‘I did not anything in deep sleep due to non-functioning of Buddhi’. Thus he considers himself a knower only when he is connected with Buddhi. Thus, he is imposing the jnatritva-dharma which is the dharma of kshetrajna on Buddhi which is kshetra.

Further Analysis of the example

When a person who had functional eyes, loses his eyes, then he is well aware of the fact that he has lost the eyes. Thus he sees the loss of eyes and also sees the consequent loss of activity of eyes (karana-kriya). However, since he had been doing the Adhyasa of eyes in himself, he says, “I am blind. I cannot see”

Similarly, a person who had functional Buddhi, loses his Buddhi (in Sushupti), then he is well aware of the fact that he has lost the Buddhi. Thus he sees the loss of Buddhi and also sees the consequent loss of activity of Buddhi (jnana-kriya). However, since he had been doing the Adhyasa of Buddhi in himself, he says, “I did not know in Sushupti”.

Thus, the statement ‘I did not know in Sushupti’ is indicative of the Adhyasa of Buddhi in Pratyagatma. That is, it is a Forward Adhyasa.

However, the statement ‘I did not know in Sushupti because my Buddhi was dysfunctional’ is a statement of Reverse Adhyasa because here I am doing the Adhyasa of jnana-kriya-rahita-jnatritva in Buddhi.

All transactions, whether worldly or ordained by Shastra, are based on this Adhyasa, this wrong knowledge. All Pramana are based on this Adhyasa because without Adhyasa, there cannot be a Pramata. The pramatritva-kartritva-bhoktritva-jnatritva are all wrong knowledges about oneself and therefore all transactions based thereon are by default wrong.

The root cause of Adhyasa is ignorance of swaroopa of kshetra and kshetrajna, which when known, would logically remove the Adhyasa.


The crucial point to remember is that Forward Adhyasa comes prior to Reverse Adhyasa. After going through the teaching of Adhyasa Bhashya, first one understands the stupidity of committing Forward Adhyasa. Yet he continues to commit Reverse Adhyasa which too get understood by Adhyasa Bhashya subsequently.


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