Re: vedanta-res to mani and vidyasankar
You write, regarding the reality of the world and the soul:
> Real is that which remains the same in all the three period of time -
> (trikAla aBhAditam satyam)
> "Unreal" is used in different connotations - Definition 1: In principle
> whatever is not real is unreal. Definition 2: That which never exists
> is unreal - like the son of barren women, AkAsha Pushapa or horns of
> rabbit etc. The second definition is more correct.
> Now the Jagat - world - real or unreal? It cannot be real since it
> does not fulfill the definition of real - since it does not remain the
> same in three periods of time. jet machete ii Jag - that which comes
> and goes.
> Since it does not fit in the definition of Real, but appears to exit at
> least in the present - we need a third term and that is the Mitya or
> Maya (translation of this word as illusion may not give the right
> perspective). Let us call it apparent reality.
What is wrong in saying that whatever exists is real? Certainly,
Brahman is "more" real than anything else, for a couple of reasons:
(1) It is He who, as their support, is the reality of their
(2) He is always free from all imperfections and full of uncountable
auspicious attributes (His 'ubhayalingatvam', say the Brahma-sutras)
However, this does not mean that prakriti and the individual soul
are either unreal or illusory. Fundamentally, they exist as modes of
Brahman, since, according to most schools of Vedanta, creation is
never 'ex nihilo', out of nothing. So if something exists, it must
have existed in some form before.
For example, the world changes, but it remains the world.
Even during dissolution, it exists as matter, though in
an extremely subtle condition, not distinguished by name and form.
This is simply an articulation of the Vedantic principle
of 'sat-kArya-vAda', which asserts the essential unity
of cause and effect.
As the rishi Uddalaka tells Svetaketu in the Chhandogya Upanishad,
"vAcArambhaNam vikAro nAmadheyam mRttikety eva satyam" --
"By speech, the modification and name are brought about
and only as clay is it real."
Brahman, creating out of Himself by "giving names", puts forth
this universe. The substances are all real; the modifications
are only in name. A potter fashions a pot out of
clay; the shape changes, but the in essence it is still clay.
As a substance, it still exists; in the same way, this matter
around us exists and is real. Why conclude that the world
and the soul are illusory when there is no need to do so?
Similarly, the individual soul is inherently blissful, and
is always existent (see Gita ii.12). Due to its karma, however,
its potentially infinite jnAnam is contracted. As *substance*,
the soul exists; its consciousness, however, changes depending
on its degree of enlightenment.
With the above principles in mind, the category of 'mithya'
is both misleading and superfluous. Nothing, neither the Veda,
perception, nor inference tell us that either matter ('acit') or
the individual soul ('cit') are illusory. Rather, they tell us
that they are real, and that their reality is grounded in Brahman.
Regarding the snake-rope analogy, you write:
> The ropeness of the rope and snakeness of the snake both are attributes
> of each object. They are many differences and many similarities too.
> The fact that I project a snake rather than an elephant when I don't
> see the rope as a rope is because of these underlying similarities.
> Fear of the second, always makes the mind to project what it is more
> afraid of than what is comfortable with. That is why people are always
> afraid of the unknown, particularly about the future.
Are you saying that the snake is more comfortable to the mind than
a rope? According to the Advaitic definition of Brahman, It is
pure, homogeneous consciousness, incapable of being internally
distinguished. I suppose that this concept of Brahman is somewhat
scary (and I find it entirely undesirable), but I would much prefer
it to being in constant fear of a snake!
> In extending
> these examples, to reality of the world and Brahman, one should be
> careful, because these examples are not all inclusive. Snake-rope
> example in Advaita vedanta is only to illustrate the non-apprehension
> of the reality (Avarana) (not seeing the rope as a rope) which leads to
> mis-apprehension (Vishepa) (seeing the rope as a snake) of the reality.
> These are the two fold aspects of Maya. The example is no more suitable
> beyond that.
Then why use it at all? I was under the impression that Vidya and
other Advaitins used this analogy to show that once the 'snake-ness'
of the rope is sublated, relief sets in and happiness emerges.
If as you say, however, that this analogy gives no clue as to how
to sublate the 'snake-ness' (i.e., apprehend reality), it is of no
use at all, since it is a matter of common knowledge that mistaking
a rope for a snake results from incomplete perception. How do we,
therefore, sublate this perception? How do we conquer avidya?
Advaitins have no method.
Let's take your other arguments one by one:
> I offer the
> following reasons: 1) Unlike the rope which is the substratum or the
> reality in the snake-rope example, Brahman is not a cognizable object.
> If he (or it) is cognizable then he becomes limited because, cognition
> requires an object and a subject and their relation. Object is
> different from the subject, object can not be the subject and by mutual
> exclusion each limits the other.
Your objection is well phrased, but it leads you into dangerous
territory. "Reality" must be "apprehended", you say; but does not
such apprehension forcefully imply an object? Otherwise, how else
is one to be "aware" of reality? I am at a loss to understand how
the infinite numbers of jIvatmas are supposed to dispel their avidya
and realize their identity with Brahman, if there is no way of
Secondly, the mutual exclusion argument lies in a misunderstanding
of my position. Brahman has been, is, and will be everything
and everywhere. Everything exists only as His attribute,
as His 'visesha', and so there is no finitude implied. Since
He ensouls everything, there is nowhere, not even in the jIva,
where He is not.
Your misconception lies in thinking that the relationship between
the jIva and Brahman is like the relationship between finite beings.
It is in truth completely different. If you start from the position
that He truly pervades all ("aitad Atmyam idam sarvam", the Chhandogya
Upanishad says), then everything is contained in Him, but they do
not exhaust Him. One thinks about the nature of his soul, and realizes
that wherever his soul is, Brahman is there too, ensouling his soul,
just as the soul pervades a body.
> 2) Attributes are the measures of the
> intellect. Nirguna Brahman does mean that he is guna hEna as some
> interpret, he is beyond gunas since gunas are measures of the intellect
> and he is beyond intellect.
Why do you assume that attributes are a measure of the intellect?
There is no justification for this statement? Rather, attributes
are what defines something in any sense; they are the only way
one can be conscious of anything.
Brahman is beyond the intellect in that we can never comprehend
His infinite glory with our mere minds. With such a simple
explanation at hand, why resort to doublespeak?
> 3) He is real or truth which by definition
> given above he is beyond time and hence space.
Yes, very much so. He is real, and He is infinite, since He
abides timelessly. Time subsists in Him, but He does not live
in time. He is infinite as He is omnipresent. Space subsists
in Brahman, but Brahman does not suffer spatial bounds. It is
where everything else is and it is where nothing else is.
> Realization of Brahman or realization of self is nothing of the type
> that I, the subject realize some thing- an object- if that is so then
> you are right attributes are needed and intellectually you can know it!
> Since it is not a cognizable object, obviously the words, which are the
> expressions of the intellect, fail. In Kenopanishad the master
> proclaims - those who understand it understand it not - because it is
> not some object to understand.
You are making an a priori assumption about what it means to realize
Brahman. Let's look at what the Kena Upanishad text actually says:
He who *thinks* he knows It not, knows it.
He who thinks he knows It, knows It not.
The true knowers think they can never know It,
while the ignorant think they know It.
The key here is that Brahman, because of His infinitude, can never
be known in His entireity. However, His nature and essence can certainly
be known. How else would the teaching "The knower of Brahman attains
the highest" ("brahmavid Apnoti param") carry any meaning? Your
statement also completely destroys the essence of the Upanishadic
teaching that "the Atman is to be seen, heard, thought about, and
finally, meditated upon."
There is a big difference between "we cannot say anything" and
"we cannot say everything". If I say, "I simply can't describe how
gorgeous she looked", am I saying that the woman in question
is literally beyond description? Of course not.
> Then only the slokam - Purnamadam (That is complete or
> infinite) and Purnamidam (This (idam sarvam eesavAsyam) i.e this entire
> universe is complete or infinite).
It is typical of Advaitins to take things out of context.
The Isa Upanishad text you are quoting says in proper
English, "All this universe is pervaded by the Lord."
The universe by itself is in comparison a drop in an ocean.
Brahman, the Supreme Being, is the Infinite one who encompasses
all of this as its ensouler, its wonderful Inner Controller.
By knowing Him, we know all this.