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Paramarthika Satta – Advaita Vedanta Ultimate Reality

Paramarthika Satta is the ultimate reality in Advaita Vedanta. Paramarthika Satta is nirguna Brahman, which is the paramartha satyam (Only Truth). Brahman cannot be defined in terms of any category, but may be indicated negatively as “Not This”, “Not This” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad III. Ix 26; IV ii 4). Some Upanishadic texts, speak of Brahman as existence, consciousness and bliss (Taittiriya Upanishad, ii, 1.1) and some others as the “cause of the world creation”.

 To reconcile the two views – Shankaracharya postulates two standpoints – paramarthika (absolute) and vyavaharika (relative). From the ultimate standpoint, Brahman is relation-less.

Paramarthika Satta is Brahman in itself and Brahman in relation to the world is the relative standpoint. There is only adhyasa (super imposition) of a world onto Brahman, due to maya or illusion, which can be removed only by “Brahman – Knowledge.” Marked by the characteristic of truth, un-sublatability and novelty, nothing other than Brahman knowledge can be true. So, the Absolute Reality or Truth is Brahman. Empirical knowledge has only a practical validity, because it is sublated when there dawns the intuitive knowledge of Brahman. Less valid than this is the knowledge that pertains to dream and delusion. Thus Reality is viewed from three standpoints, the Absolute, the pratibhasika satta (empirical and apparent) or vivaranaprameyasamgraha. If illusions were real, their cognition would not be delusive, nor could there be sublation for it. Nor is it unreal, as it is experience. It is indescribable. The appearance has no substance of its own; its reality comes from and is reducible to the absolute. But when Brahman knowledge is attained, it will be realized that the world was never created.