Mayavada Darpanam

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dhyaana sloka - 2

Just to recap:

we are currently analyzing Madhvacharya's Mayavaada Khandanam wherein he criticizes Advaita -- and we are trying to analyze the work from the view point of Advaita & trying to refute the arguments of Madhva and his followers.

We have currently discussed the dhyaana sloka of Madhvacharya where he prostrates Narasimha for the destruction of all the tenets of Advaita.

As mentioned earlier, we will be learning Madhva's work along with refutation of Madhva's statements and defense of Advaita against Madhva's arguments -- this will be done with the help of the work which has been compiled by me by AMMA's grace. With the blessings of AMMA and Sankara, let us try to analyze the work thereby making clear our concepts about the ultimate reality of Brahman thus helping us in realizing the ultimate reality of Brahman.

The counter work is in sanskrit. There might be grammatical mistakes in the work. Hope people in the forum wouldn't mind it - will try my level best to correct most of the grammatical errors but if that is not possible, apologize for the same.

The work also starts with a similar dhyaana sloka as that of Madhva -- since it is a defense of Advaita against Mayavaada Khandanam so the pattern followed and word-pattern usage will be almost similar to that of Madhva. Have tried to make it elaborate in certain places where explanation is required so that the defense covers arguments of Jaya Teertha also. But in other places, the work will be short and crisp like Madhva's -- we will take up the work and its meaning in detail so that everybody understands the work clearly.

The dhyaana sloka is thus:

Narasimho akhila samsaara bhava baadavaagnih
satyam jnaanam anantham cha sarvopaadhi vivarjitham

Prostrations to Lord Narasimha who is like the fire called Baadavagnih to destroy the entire ocean of samsaara, who is of the nature of Sat Chit and Anantha (or infinite) and beyond all limitations.

The above verse is in anushtup chandhas (which Madhva's dhyaana sloka is also in) which is one of the most common chandhas or metre used in sanskrit (hope there is no fault in the chandhas).

Lord Narasimha's avatar is very important in Vedanta and the time when this occurred is very important. We find in Bhagavatham which is one of the best puranic work propounding the ultimate reality that Lord took the avatar of Narasimha to show one of the great Vedantins of Hiranyakashipu the reality that everything is Brahman only through the instrument of Prahlaada. There are many wrong concepts about Hiranyakashipu and other asura chakravarthis but these asura kings were great Vedantins. We find clearly in Bhagavatham in the story of Mahabali where Lord says to Gods that great is this king who has offered his own head to me -- he has attained a position which you all can't achieve. We find in very clear terms in Yoga Vasistha where it is said that Mahabali initially learnt the truth from his father Virochana and then confirmed this from his guru Shukracharya. When the Lord had killed Hiranyaaksha in the varaaha avatar, Hiranyakashipu's mother and relatives were very sad. He called them all & tells them a story about a king and his queen when the king died, queen were crying -- lord came in the form of a boy and told the queen and others that what is dead is just the form and not the real Self -- the real Self is ever present and it never dies-- therefore dont cry. Thus telling the story, Hiranyakashipu consoled his parents and others -- after this, he set out to find the real killer of Vishnu. He had learnt Vedanta but it became practical when he asked Prahlada as to where is God? Prahlada replied that Lord is everywhere -- then he asked "Is Lord there in this pillar?" and prahlaada replied "yes" -- and he started attacking the pillar & Lord came out. The Lord then killed the Ego of Hiranyakashipu and redeemed the eternal Self underlying the Ego of hiranyakashipu. Hiranya means gold and aksha means eyes -- so this is one who sees Gold and is attracted towards it. Similar is the meaning of Hiranyakashipu too -- who is hankering after sensual pleasures which are like gold attracting everyone. Thus Lord Narasimha is one who kills the Ego and redeems the ever-present eternal Self.

Thus it is mentioned in the dhyaana sloka that Lord is one who destroys the ocean of samsaara. Samsaara is best defined by Sankara as Avidya, kaama and karma -- these are what is there in samsaara. Samsaara is the cause of sorrow and suffering in the world. It makes a person seem to struggle in life even though he is ever the blissful Self. Thus Lord is one who destroys the samsaara through destruction of Ego which experiences the samsaara. Samsaara is an ocean -- comparison used in Vedanta. Ocean is vast, similar is the ocean of ignorance -- it makes a person dip and dip and dip -- the currents are so strong that it is tough to come out of ocean. Oceans have tides of various karmas and phalas. It also has the six crocodiles of kaama, krodha etc. (we are already aware of these).

Normally in many works, we find mentioning of the Lord or Guru as one who is the boat to cross over the ocean of samsaara but here the work mentions it a bit differently. Here reference is made to baadavagnih - a special type of fire. We all know that ocean suppresses fire but there is this particular fire called baadavaagni which drinks the ocean or destroys the ocean. Thus the Lord doesn't help us cross over the ocean but completely destroys the ocean with the fire called baadavagni. This fire is the fire of knowledge, fire of Advaita Jnaana through the scriptures and Guru.

Baadavagni is mentioned in the Guru paaduka stotra of Sri Sacchidaananda Sivabhinava Nrsimha Bharathi swamigal of Sringeri (who was succeeded by the great world acclaimed jeevan muktha of Swami Chandrasekhara Bharathi of Sringeri) thus:

Paapaandhakaara paramparaabhyaam
taapatrayaaheendra khageshwaraabhyaam
Jaadyaabdhi samshoshanabhaadavaabhyaam
namo namah sri gurupaadukaabhyaam

Prostrations to the foot wear of the Guru which is like a set of Sun(s) to destroy the darkness of sin (here indicates ignorance), removing the taapa traya (three types of sufferings of adhibhoota, adhyaatma and adhidaiva) like Garuda removing snakes and that which drinks or evaporates the ocean of jada samsaara like baadavagni.

This comparison is very rare and have found it only in the above verse so far. Prof. Balakrishnan Nair does mention about this fire in his Bhaagavatha Hridayam (an analysis into the spiritual import of stories in Srimad Bhagavatham).

Thus the Lord is not destroyer of any philosophies as Madhva says but he is the destroyer of the ocean of samsaara responsible for all troubles/sufferings in the illusory world (we will come as to how this world is illusion at a later time).

The Lord is explained in Upanishads and Puranaas as Sat Chit ananda and anantha. Sat is to indicate that the reality of Lord or Brahman is never sublated. Chit is to show that it is not insentient like a rock. ananda is to show unlimited happiness unlike sorrow present in objects in the world. Anantha means that the Lord is never limited by any upadhis. This definition of Sat Chit Ananda is for Para Brahman or Nirguna Brahman as per Vedanta. Hence the prostration is not to the form of Narasimha but it is indirectly pointing to the ultimate reality of Nirguna, Nirvishesha and Niraakaara Brahman.

"Satyam jnaana anantham brahma" occurs in Taittiriya Upanishad.

Many puranas have the following sloka:
Satchidaananda roopaaya vishwotpatyaadi hethave
Taapatraya vinaashaaya sri krishnaaya vayam namah

We prostrate Lord Krishna who is of the nature of Sat, Chit and ananda, who is the creator of the world and who is the destroyer of the three types of sufferings.

Thus the refuting work isn't just prostrating the form of Narasimha but also prostrating the underlying reality of Nirguna, Niraakara and Nirvishesha Brahman.

Since it is mentioned in the dhyaana sloka that the reality is of the nature of Sat, Chit, Ananda and Anantha there may be a doubt to the seeker. The doubt is this: Anantha means infinite - this might mean that Brahman is unlimited by the any of the limiting factors - this would mean that the limiting factors are there but Brahman is not limited by them (this is the explanation - similar explanation - which Dvaita system gives for anantha) thus deviating from the one-reality of Advaita. This has been answered by the words "Sarva upadhi vivarjitham" which means deviod or bereft of all adjuncts.

Vedanta broadly speaks about three adjuncts for any object in the world -- the three are Desha, Kaala and Vishaya. Desha means space, kaala means time and vishaya means objectification or causation. Brahman is beyond and bereft of all these adjuncts. Even though Brahman is infinite in time, but still it is not limited by time because it is devoid of time. Similarly Brahman is not just that entity which is present everywhere (which attributes to sarva vyaapitva meaning infinite in space) but it is devoid of space itself. Vishaya means causation. Any object we take in the world is subject to limitation by time, space and causation. But Brahman is beyond all these.

Sankara says thus in Vivekachoodaamani:
Jaathi neethi kula gotra duragam
Naama roopa guna dosha varjitam
desha kaala vishayati vartiyat
Brahma tattvamasi bhaavayaatmani

That which is beyond jaathi (caste), neethi (rule or law), kula (sect), gotra (internal category of caste), that which is bereft of the faults of naama, roopa and gunam, that which stays beyond time, space and causation -- that Brahman I am -- thus contemplate.

The above is from a set of 10 or more verses in Vivekachoodamani where Sankara is speaking about how to meditate on the reality that "I am Brahman" - anusandhaana prakriya.

Thus the counter work says that Narasimha is in fact none other than the ultimate reality of Nirguna Brahman only -- he is not the destroyer of philosophies of ajnaana but he is the remover of the entire ocean of ajnaana or samsaara. He is spoken of in the Upanishads as Sat, Chit, Ananda and Anantha. He is beyond all adjuncts and limitations. Our prostrations to such an ultimate reality in the form of Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi.

At the outset of the work itself, I offer my prostrations to AMMA without whose grace and will the counter work would'nt have been completed & who has been instrumental in leading through the spiritual path.

We will continue with Madhva's work and the counter argument for the same in the next post. Hope everyone goes through the work properly and apprehend the meaning of Madhva's work as well as Advaita's counter argument for the same. As it is said "advaita na prashnam na api uttaram" - there is neither questiom nor answer in Advaita, but still it is for the progress of each one of us that we are pursuing this study of Madhva's work and as a continuation to the shoonyavaada-mayavaada analysis. Here our main aim is not refutation or attack of Madhva's philosophy but the defense of Advaita and to show that Advaita doesn't have logical issues which Madhva and his followers have tried to point out.

Once again prostrations to the lotus feet of AMMA.


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