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Rajju Sarpa Nyaya – Rope – Snake Example In Hinduism – History – Facts

In Hinduism, Rajju Sarpa Nyaya is an advaitic illustration of non-duality. Gaudapadacharya, whose Mandukya Karika is supposed to be the first systematic treatise on Advaita Vedanta, has used this illustration to explain Rajju Sarpa Nyaya. Viniscitayam rajjvam vikalpo vinivartate (II-18) Once the rope is ascertained (superimposed) snake is sibilated.”

This illustration is abundantly used in Yoga Vasistha. It was Adi Shankaracharya who made Rajju Sarpa Nyaya popular. Perhaps this is the most appropriate Nyaya (logic) to explain the world as the vivarta, illusory notion of Brahman. Due to ignorance, the rope is mistaken for a snake (in the dark), so Brahman appears as the bewildering mass of phenomena in the world. After Adi Shankaracharya, advaitins belonging to the Bhamati School have mostly used the rope-snake Nyaya in their commentaries.

The concept of vivarta is as old as some of the major Upanishads, such as Taittiriya and Svetasvatara Upanishad. But vivarta has been used in its technical sense for the first time in Vakyapadiyam of Bhartrhari. He gave its first technical definition in his svopajnavritti, while explaining the concept of Vivartavada.

The rope-snake Nyaya became so popular that even the Kashmir Shaiva scholars and the Advaitins dub the world as appearance. Each of them has used a particular Nyaya to explain their version of appearance. To solve the riddle of the world problem, Radhakrishnan has used it most appropriately: “The riddle of the rope is the riddle of the Universe. Why does a rope appear as the snake is a question which schoolboys raise and philosophers fail to answer.”