Some friends have raised queries about one and many in our earlier post – specifically those relating to Shankar’s description. Some have pointed out to Vartika (563-564) of Sureshwar, who quotes Brhadaaranyaka Upanishad (4-3-23) to establish Adwaita. According to it, “But there is not that second thing separate from it, which it can see (during deep sleep). Sureshwar argues that since duality is not uniformly perceived in all states (wakeful, dream, deep sleep), the perception of duality must be illusory. But this is not the correct interpretation of the Upanishadic dictum. During wakeful state, our sense organs are receiving outside impulse, whether it is being transmitted to our mind fully or not. During dream, the external impulses cease to be received, but all other internal processing continues. This frees our mind and intelligence from the constraints imposed by the laws of the external world. Thus, in dream we see only those objects that we had seen earlier, but without any restriction. We have seen birds fly and horses run. But in our dream, we can see flying horses, which is not possible in the physical world. Only these processes stop during deep sleep. The intelligence (विज्ञानात्मा in अध्यात्म or विज्ञान सूर्य in अधिदैव) is awake in deep sleep, but since its function is only to project the mixed picture of the impulses, in the absence of impulses, it remains blank. This is the meaning of the Upanishadic dictum, which is elaborated in Maandukya Upanishad.
Other friends have pointed to the statement: One only without-a-Second (एकमेवाऽद्वितीयोसन्नामरूपविवर्जितम् । सृष्टेपुराधुनाप्यस्य तादृक्त्वं तदितिरुच्यते।), which admits one only while talking about second. But the meaning of the statement is not related to number sequence. It relates to categories and contains three negations. The word ‘One-only’ (एकम्) means, Brahma has no similars (विजातीयभेद). The word ‘only’ (एव) implies negation of one set with its elements (सजातीयभेद). There can be many elements belonging to a common set. Brahman is not like that. The word ‘without-a-Second’ (अद्वितीयम्) negates one without an internal structure or components (स्वगतभेद). To give macro examples, fruits can be differentiated from other objects (the first denial of similarity in case of Brahman - विजातीयभेद). There can be different fruits (second denial - सजातीयभेद). The fruits can have skin, pulp, seed etc (the third denial - स्वगतभेद). None of these descriptions are applicable to Brahman. Thus, the statement is only that of Purusha, which is One. Only Prakriti, though one in its sublime state, gets transformed into many while creating the Universe. Thus, there is no contradiction.