Real, Unreal and False (Satya,Mithya, Asatya)

Spiritual Journey is beautifully summarized in

Asato ma sadgamaya, Tamaso ma Jyothirgamaya,

Mrityorma amritam Gamaya, Om Shanti,Shanti, Shantih ||

                                                               – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1iii.28

Lead me

From falsehood to Truth, From Darkness of ignorance to light of wisdom, from death to deathlessness – Om Peace,Peace,Peace.

If Truth is the one which gives peace, what is required to realize the Truth ? Should we go to forest, Himalayas… What Sadhana is required ? Sadhana is required for achieving something which you donot have. However no Sadhana is required for achieving what you have. It is recognition of the Truth which has to be there through process of Jnana. This is the path of Vedanta. Path of knowledge to recognize what you already we have. Any effort you do to reach your SELF will take you away from the SELF. Show me how you can reach all pervading space ?  The path of Vedanta is discrimination called Viveka – nitya, anitya viveka ( permanent, temporary), atma-anatma viveka (SELF-Non SELF) discrimination.  We can take of enquiry into nature of Nitya Anitya viveka  by understanding nature of reality – satya, mithya and Asatya.

Shri Krishna says in Bhagavadgita[i] “unreal never existed, and real never ceases to exist”

We can have peace only when we realize the Truth. It is the mithya or unreal which is cause of our suffering.

Vedanta distinguishes three types of Reality

  • Absolute Reality  called Satya (Paramarthik Satya)  – Independent reality which does not change with time, space. Which is free from causality, birth and death.  This is “I” principle (SELF) in me.
  • Falsehood called tuccha or asatya belongs to the category of non-existent which never existed. For example horns of the rabbit, egg of elephant…
  • Unreal  called mithya – we can say relatively real. Mithya has no independent existent without absolute reality (satya). Mithya depends on absolute reality for existence. Everything available to perception and conception comes under this category – body, mind, intellect, thoughts feelings, emotions, worldly experiences all belong to this category. Mithya constantly changes.


  • Let us take example. Can you describe river Ganga ? … River in North India… Holy river…., water, chemical composition of oxygen and hydrogen … all are relatively real. Is there an absolute description of river Ganga ?


  • Let us take example of shirt. Shirt has a “name, form, function”. When I say shirt,  I am referring to the meaning of the word called “shirt”. Shirt is made up of fabric. The real meaning of the word shirt is “fabric” which is not shirt. Fabric is nothing but yarn which is nothing but cotton which is nothing  but atoms, molecules, sub atomic particles. Possibly up to the level of atoms perception with instrument possible. Beyond that subatomic particles etc are more concepts, concepts are cognized by consciousness. Every “thing” made up of “non thing”. Only substance of anything is consciousness alone which is not a thing. Consciousness is substratum of everything. Totality of existence. Consciousness is being. Consciousness is knowing. Non objective conciousness is called Para Brahma. Para brahma called prajnana. Prajnanam Brahma – Aitareya Upanishad.


  • Is there a thing called shirt really?  Off course it is there. Is it really there ? No. It is relatively there but not absolutely there. Hence it is mithya or unreal. Is there a being for the shirt ?  The meaning of shirt is a series of names – shirt-fabric- …. Each is an attribute of “Non Shirt” called Para Brahma ! We cannot say “shirt is there or shirt is not there”!


  • Form of shirt is perceived by sense organs. Conditioned by sense organs and depends on type of sense organ. A colour blind person will never be able to see green shirt ! Mind interprets the form and gives a name to that. Does naming mean anything ? It is a labeling mechanism only.


  • Every name, form and function points to the essential substance which is not a thing.


  • Can we say for sure shirt is there because of this. There is something obviously. That something is called “asti”. It shines in the light of consciousness (brahman – bhati). Everything in the world shines in the light of consciousness (anubhati).
  • Let us take up the word “Human Being”. Let us take up so called “me”. It is a composite of body, mind, intellect – This is my human part. The “I am” which puts together these Body, Mind, Intellect is called the being.  It is our experience that “I am body,mind, intellect.  I am is my “Being”.  Whenever  I speak of  “I AM”  the “I” refers to consciousness. AM refers to existence. “I” is the impersonal consciousness beyond the personal “me”. This is the essential meaning of Tatwamasi.  Para Brahma is Satya.


  • The objects of the world are mithya. They are dependent on my SELF – Brahman.World has no independent existence. Time and space are dependent on my SELF.


  • World is nothing but name and form. Name and form is called maya. Constantly changing dependent reality. Virtual reality (ya ma iti maya)


  • If “I” am all pervading reality Brahman why do I suffer ? I associate myself with the body, mind and intellect. I know “I am” sat-chit. But I don’t know “ananda” or bliss.


  • I constantly look for happiness – unlimitedness. I am not looking for sat-chit. I am looking for ananda.


  • I feel limited because of subject-object duality. Subject and object are both cognized by consciousness. What is cognized is not different from conciousness. Hence all that is thre is consciousness – Brahman only. Brahman alone is reality everything else is mithya or unreal. This is called vedanta or end of knowledge ( knowing which nothing else to be known).


  • Consciousness alone appears as all names and forms – like paper boat, flower… We get attracted by the form and forget the substance called consciousness. This is ignorance. Ignorance can only be removed through knowledge of non-duality.


  • The famous sloka of Ishavasya Upanishad[ii] explains beautifully. SELF (Conciousness) is unlimited (purnam) . The world of appearances which involves knower-known-knowledge is consciousness. Presence or absence of waves does not add anything to ocean (consciousness). Infinity remains unchanged by any operation. World of appearances is Brahman only. I am THAT Brahman.







[i] “ Naasatho vidyathae bhaavo , naabhaavo vidyathae sathaha,

ubhayo rapi drustontha sthwanayo sthathwa darsibhihi”  Bhagavadgita 2.16


Unreal is like darkness which is absense of light.  Is there a thing called darkness ? It is non entity. Is there a thing called ignorance ? It is absense of knowledge.  Wise ones understand the difference clearly. SELF alone is satya. World is mithya.


[ii] Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Purnnam-Udacyate
Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate ||
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

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