Mayavada Darpanam

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Attack on vishaya of Advaita - 5


Prostrations to all.

First of all, sorry for the long gap between the previous mail in the series & this mail.

We learnt the answer of advaitin to Madhva’s argument on whether the vishaya of Brahma Atma aikya is real or unreal. After this Madhva had argued as to whether this vishaya is same as Brahman or different from Brahman. Madhva further argued that if the vishaya is different from Brahman, then it would lead to advaita haani or will cause dvaita & that if the vishaya is same as Brahman, it would lead to siddha saadhanathaa dosha as well as veiling of the self-luminous Brahman.

Let us see the answer of the advaitin on the above argument of Madhva. As explained in the previous mail on the series, this argument is already answered through the previous arguments of advaitin but still we will see as to what the advaitin has to speak specifically about the same.

The advaitin replies thus:

Avidyavashaad brahma atma aikyam brahmano bhinnam iva bhavathi

“Due to avidya or ignorance, Brahma Atma Aikyam (which is the vishaya) seems to be different from Brahman.”

Vidhyayaa brahma atma aikyam svaroopameva bhavathi

“When vidya or knowledge dawns, Brahma Atma Aikya is realized or known as “one’s own very nature” or svaroopa.”

Svaprakaashaatma avidhyaavashaad vismritham iva bhavathi

“The self-luminous Self as a result of avidya seems “as-if” forgotten (not really forgotten but “as-if” forgotten).”

Shaastrasya brahma atma aikya jnaanaad avidhya nivartaka paryantham vismritha aatmanah prathipaadhyatvaat na siddha saadhanathaa shankaa

“As shaastraas propound the forgotten Self through Brahma Atma Aikya Jnaanam and as long as avidhya exists, therefore there need be no doubt of siddha saadhanathaa dosha (fault of establishing what is already established).”


The Subject of Brahma Atma Aikyam is valid only in the state of ignorance. As long as ignorance seems to exist, there will always be a goal characterized by removal of ignorance or cessation of ignorance or rejoice of eternal bliss. Thus as long as avidya exists, vishaya is valid. When there is avidya, the seeker doesn’t know his own very nature of Brahman. Since the seeker doesn’t know Brahman during the state of avidya, therefore the vishaya which is Brahma Atma Aikyam is valid enough.

This vishaya of Brahma Atma Aikyam is as if different from Brahman – as there are two entities of Brahman and Atman coming into picture here. The vishaya is not really different from Brahman because there is nothing different from Brahman (reality is ONE alone) and this vishaya is nothing but one’s own nature or svaroopa itself. Thus the vishaya is not really different from Brahman but seems to be different from Brahman during the state of avidya.

We find in the Upanishads, the goal of Brahma Atma Aikyam being propounded by the Guru to the shishya through the various mahavakyas of Tat Tvam Asi, Sarvam Khalu idam Brahma, Brahmaivedam amritam purasthaat etc. This goal is propounded only when there is avidya. When there is no avidya, there is no goal at all and thus there is neither guru nor shishya nor any instruction of any sort. These are valid only in the state of avidya. The Gurus in the Upanishads proclaim boldly that a person who knows Brahman verily becomes Brahman. This “becoming” can be real only if the seeker is already Brahman but forgotten it & realizes what he has forgotten. If this is not the case, then the seeker becomes something which he already is not. Thus this becoming is something newly created – anything created or started will be destroyed or ended. Thus the becoming will be illusory or unreal.

Since realization or moksha as per all systems is real and eternal, therefore the only possible explanation is that the seeker is Brahman but forgotten his own nature and realizes it through the scriptural statements and by following the vedantic sadhana of sravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana.

Thus the seeker is Brahman but has forgotten it. In this state of avidya or forgetfulness, the goal is the identity of Brahman and Atman or knowing that the ultimate reality or TAT or THAT is the same as TVAM or THIS or Atman.

Brahman here denotes the ultimate reality whereas Atman denotes the inner Consciousness of the seeker. Thus Brahma Atma Aikyam denotes oneness of the individual Consciousness and the ultimate Consciousness. In fact, there is no two entities of Brahman and Atman but both are same only seemingly appearing different during the state of avidya or ignorance.

In avidya, the goal is valid but seems to be different from Brahman --- but it is never really different from Brahman & this non-difference is realized when knowledge dawns or the seeker gets knowledge (both direct and indirect) from the scriptures, Guru and experience.

Thus the advaitin here says that BRAHMA ATMA AIKYAM seems to be different from the ultimate non-dual reality of Brahman in the state of avidya. But when vidya dawns, the seeker realizes that the vishaya of BRAHMA ATMA AIKYAM is one’s own nature of svaroopa itself.

The next argument Madhva raised was as to the svapraakasha or self-luminous characteristic of the Self. The Self or Atman is svapraakasha as per Advaita. Svaprakaasha as per Advaita is that it is never objectified and thus is never veiled by anything. But advaita also says that the svaprakaasha atma is veiled by ignorance.

Here is where we need to understand the philosophy with an open mind instead of blindly attacking. Advaita never says that the Self is veiled by ignorance but only that it seems to be veiled by ignorance. Thus the advaitin here says that the self-luminous Self seems to be forgotten or as if forgotten but not really forgotten. The Self can never be forgotten because it is one’s own nature. Even though a person might forget anything and everything, he cannot forget himself. Hence the seeker never forgets “I” but just seems to forget that this “I” is in fact the non-dual reality of Brahman. This forgetfulness is what is termed as avidya in Vedanta.

The seeker thus seems to forget his own nature of Brahman even though he is Brahman. But the seeker never really forgets, just seems to forget even though he knows the inner “I”.

Since the Self is not really veiled by avidya but just seems to be veiled therefore there is no fault of veiling the ever-present Self. The ever-present Self can never be veiled but surely can seem to be veiled by ignorance even as Sun is never really veiled by clouds but seems to be veiled by clouds.

Thus the advaitin says that svaprakaasha atma seems to be “as if” forgotten as a result of avidya but is never really forgotten. Since it is never really forgotten, there is no fault of saying that ignorance veils the ever-present Self – as ultimately we don’t accept the Self to be veiled or forgotten. Anything can be forgotten except one’s own nature. A person can never forget his own nature – because his nature of Self is that which pulsates as “I-exist, I-exist” and thus if a person exists, then he knows his nature.

Vidyaranya explains this in Panchadashi:
If a person knows the Self, then he will not be craving for sensual pleasures. Thus since there is craving for sensual pleasures for a seeker, he doesn’t know the Self. But all people in the world are searching for eternal bliss – searching is not possible until there has been some kind of experience of the bliss. Thus each person knows the Self & hence strives to seek the Self in the form of eternal bliss.

This takes us to the conclusion that the Self is not known but still known. This statement might seem confusing but as we have already learnt in Panchadashi first chapter (taken by Rajesh Kumar), a seeker knows the Self generally but doesn’t know specifically & hence the search for truth or the spiritual goal of Brahman.

Thus it is wrong to say that the ever-present Self is really veiled and hence not known – thus we say that the Self seems to be veiled by ignorance & not really veiled. Thus Madhva’s argument that ever-present Self will be veiled through ignorance is not valid.

Madhva had then raised the argument that if the vishaya of Brahma Atma Aikya is same as Brahman, then it will cause siddha saadhanataa dosha of sruthi. But this is also not valid. The sruthis have validity only at the ignorance plane or empirical level. A realized saint doesn’t require sruthi at all because he knows the reality of Brahman propounded in the sruthi. Even if we accept the vishaya of sruthi as Savishesha Brahman or Vishnu as per the dvaita system, still once a person knows Brahman the sruthi loses its validity because once the vishaya of sruthi is known, sruthi’s role is over. Once a person learns C through dennis richie’s book, then the role of the book is over & the book is no longer valid. Similarly once a person realizes the reality of Brahman, then the sruthi becomes invalid. This is not a personal statement but what Upanishads and acharyas proclaim.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad speaks about the state of sushupthi and states that “Vedaah avedaah” meaning that the Vedas become non-Vedas or lose their validity in the state of deep sleep. Vedanta considers sushupthi state as similar to turiya avasthaa or realized state. Thus if in sushupthi itself Vedas lose their validity, then what to speak about the turiya avasthaa???

Sankara says in Vivekachoodamani thus:
Avijnaathe pare tattve shaastraadithisthu nishphalaah
Vijnaathe api pare tattve shaastraadhithisthu nishphalaah

Without knowing the ultimate reality of Brahman (meaning that as long as Brahman is not known), shaastras are of no use. After knowing the ultimate reality of Brahman also, the shaastras are of no use.

Thus it is beyond doubt that the shastras operate in the plane of ignorance. And in this state, the vishaya of Brahma Atma Aikya has to be vismritha atman alone as the vishaya is the Self which has been forgotten (seemingly forgotten). Since the shastras propound the forgotten Self, therefore it doesn’t really establish that which is already established. If the shastras were to proclaim the Self, then it would lead to establishing the already established Self. But the shastras cannot propound Brahman as Brahman is beyond words and thoughts. Thus shastras point to the Self as one’s own very nature which has been forgotten. Thus since the shastras propound the forgotten Self, the fault of siddha saadhanathaa is not at all there.

Rama forgets his own name and identity. At that time, his friend Krishna comes and reminds Rama as to his identity. Here that which Krishna is pointing out which is Rama’s nature (vishaya here) is not already established as Rama has forgotten his identity & this forgotten identity alone is being pointed out by Krishna. Thus even though Rama’s identity is always established but as he had forgotten it & this forgotten identity alone (and not real identity as real identity is ever there but forgotten identity alone is pointed out here) is pointed out by Krishna. Thus there is no fault of establishing the ever established identity of Rama in this case.

Similarly since sruthi propounds Brahman as one’s own nature which is possible only if one’s own nature has been forgotten (as proved earlier in this mail), therefore there is no fault of establishing already established Self.

It is very important to note here that sruthi is also valid only in the ignorance plane or as long as ignorance is there. Sruthi becomes invalid and is as illusory as the world and its objects – because Brahman alone is the non-dual reality – anything apart from Brahman is a mere illusion in Brahman.

Sruthi cannot really point out Brahman because Brahman is beyond words and thoughts – thus sruthi is just a mirror in showing a seeker his own very nature of Brahman. Sruthi just points out to the seeker & tells that “you are that Brahman which you are seeking”. Since the Subject of “YOU” or “I” is beyond objectification, therefore Brahman cannot become an object in any case. Thus sruthi just points out the Subject through the objects (indirectly points out) --- and sruthi propounds the forgotten Self for a seeker who has forgotten his own very nature of Self. If it is argued that how did the seeker forget his nature of Self, then there is no real answer for the same – we say that there is no real ignorance but it seems to be present as long as the seeker thinks that he is not the ultimate reality of Brahman & as long as he doesn’t realize his own nature of Brahman. We will be dealing with ignorance in detail later in the work while dealing with the arguments raised by Madhva and his followers on avidya.

There is one more argument that Madhva raises against the vishaya of Advaita. We will see the argument as well as the answer to the same in the next mail.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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