By Swami Harshananda
nirviśeṣa (‘that which is without special characteristics’)
The nature of the highest Reality, generally designated by the word ‘Brahman’ in the Upaniṣads, is an important point of discussion in the Vedānta philosophy, considered as the crest-jewel of Indian philosophical systems.
According to the Advaita Vedānta, Brahman has two lakṣaṇas or characteristics; taṭasthalakṣaṇa (accidental characteristic) and svarupalaksana (intrinsic characteristic).
When Brahman is described as responsible for the creation or evolution of this world (vide the Brahmasutras 1.1.2) it is the first lakṣaṇa that has been indicated. This is only an indirect way of pointing towards it.
However, in its own intrinsic nature it is described as ‘nirviśesa-cinmātra-svarupa’.
It is pure consciousness without any viśeṣas or qualities. It is this essential nature of Brahman that is indicated by the word ‘nir-viśesa’ (= without specific qualities). Another word used in the same
sense is ‘nirguṇa’ (vide Śvetāśvatara Upanisad 6.11).
See also SVARUPALAKSANA and TATASTHALAKSANA.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore