Mayavada Darpanam

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Attack on anubandha chatushtayam of Advaita based on shruti - 2


Prostrations to all.

In the last mail we saw in brief the dvaita interpretation of the slokas of the 15th chapter of Gita. We will start from this mail the advaitin’s interpretation of the slokas which more or less follows Sankara’s bhashya on the same.

The advaitin starts thus:

Bhagavaan praageva uktam vibhoothiyoge
“ahamaatma gudaakeshah sarvabhootashayasthithah
Ahamaadischa madhyam cha bhootaanaam antha eva cha”

The Lord has previously itself propounded in the vibhoothi yoga thus:

O Arjuna, I am the Self who is present in all beings. I am the starting, middle and end of all beings.

There is no better way to propound Advaita than this. We could guess that even during the Lord’s time, there would have been people who doubt the Advaitic reality which contradicts perceptual knowledge. Hence the Lord explains it quite clearly that I am the Self of all beings & all the beings are me alone.

Mundaka Upanishad proclaims about Brahman thus:

Brahmaivedam amritham purasthaath brahma paschaat
Brahma dakshinatascha uttaram
Adhascha urdhvam cha prasritham
Brahmaiva idam vishwam idam varistam

Brahma alone is present here as immortality. Brahman is present in front, in back, in right, in left, on top and on bottom – everything is filled with Brahman. The world is Brahman alone, Brahman alone is to be sought out as it is ultimate.

Could there possibly be any other way of clearing putting that Brahman alone is present??? Though the Upanishad very clearly explains that Brahman alone is present, still doubts persist & logical arguments are raised against Advaita by counter systems of Vedanta. What to speak about such arguments which are out of either arrogance or ignorance or non-desire to know such a adviteeya Brahman?

The advaitin here quotes from the Gita to show that the Lord has previously itself explained that everything is Atman or Brahman alone. Thus the adviteeya satya has been propounded by the Lord. The slokas of 15th chapter thus has to be properly interpreted keeping in mind this adviteeya satya that the Lord has propounded in the vibhoothi yoga.

The advaitin now enters into the explanation of the slokas of the 15th chapter.

Dvau purushau vyavahaarakaale asthi – ekah ksharah jeevah yah shareeraadi sambandhitah

Two purushas are there in the vyavahaara (empirical level) – one is jeeva who is identified and associated with the body etc.

Dviteeyasthu kutastha saakshi yah bandhamiva asthi paramaarthasthu mukthameva asthi, dvaita abhaavaat, bandhamukthi abhaavaat cha

Second is the kutastha witness who appears to be in bondage but is ever liberated, because there is no dvaita (only when dvaita is there bondage from something different from oneself can be there) and there is no bondage-liberation at all.


The advaitin himself would be explaining a bit more on kutastha and jeeva. But before we enter into that part, a few words on this part will be important for seekers to keep in mind.

There is an important concept that Sankara gives in his katha Upanishad bhashya which is valid in analysis of the three purushas over here. Any experience that we have consists of the triputi of Subject, Object and the action itself. Each entity of triputi is related to each other. As we very well know, any relativity requires a substratum which is unrelated to the relation. The film that we watch on screen requires a witness of watcher. Similarly triputi also requires a witness in order to perceive it apart and separated from it. This witness shouldn’t have any relation with the triputi.

The worldly experiences have the triputi of worldly objects, the actions and the Subject. This Subject is related to the objects & is termed in Vedanta as Ego or jeeva or ahamkaara. Jeeva is thus attached and associated with the objects. This association of jeeva with objects is not possible unless it is through some karana or instruments. The instruments that connect the jeeva to objects are the three shareeras of sthoola, sookshma and kaarana. This is what the advaitin has put through the word “shareeraadi sambandhithah” – here in the word shareeradi, the aadi (etc.) means the sense organs, antah karana and avidya. Thus the karana through which the jeeva associates himself with objects is the three shareeras of gross, subtle and causal. The gross body or sthoola shareera consists of the body that we perceive (made up of the pancha bhootas in their gross form). The sookshma shareera or subtle body consists of the pancha karma indriyas (sense organs of action which are word, hands, feet, organ of excretion and procreation), pancha jnaana indriyas (sense organs of perception which are eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin), manas (mind or doubting faculty), buddhi (intellect or discriminating faculty), chitta (memory or storing faculty) and ahamkaara (ego or associating faculty). The kaarana shareera or causal body is avidya or ignorance.

Jeeva is defined as Consciousness reflected in intellect (or antah karana). Reflected Consciousness or Jeeva is thus associated with the three shareeras and through which he interacts with the objects of the world. This interaction of jeeva with the objects requires a witness or sakshi who is not part of the interaction. A sakshi is one who is not at all associated in any way with what is being witnessed but illumines the association or activity. Thus this sakshi of jeeva & its activities should be unaffected by the activity but still illuminating the activity. Since the sakshi is not affected by the activities, therefore he is without any change or immutable. This immutable sakshi is termed in Vedanta as Kutastha atman (original consciousness which is reflected in the intellect). Kutastha is the Atman which is a mere witness to the activities of the jeeva (reflected consciousness) with the worldly objects. Kutastha is unaffected and immutable – hence termed as akshara (kshara means that which undergoes decay).

The witness seems to be bonded because of the witness-hood which is valid only as long as the triputi of jeeva, karma and jagat is there. Kutastha is never bonded but only seems to be bonded. The association of kutastha atman with jeeva is what Vedanta terms as adhyaasa or superimposition of not-Self on the Self & the Self on the not-Self. Kutastha is the Self which is the substratum for this superimposition. This superimposition itself is because of avidya or ignorance of one’s nature of kutastha (which is not different from Nirguna Brahman). Kutastha atman seems to be related to the triputi but is in fact one with Nirguna Brahman which Lord Krishna defines here as Paramaatman. The difference between Paramaatman or Nirguna Brahman and Kutastha Atman is that Nirguna Brahman never even seems to be bonded whereas Kutastha seems to be bonded at the time of ignorance. Kutastha Atman is like pot-space which is the same as infinite-space but seemingly limited by the pot. As long as the adjunct or upaadhi of pot is there, the space in the pot seems to be limited by the pot. But in fact the pot-space is never limited by the pot because space can never be limited by anything. The pot-space is kutastha atman which seems to be limited/bonded when there are the adjuncts of shareera. But when the adjuncts are known to be unreal, kutastha atman is known as one with Nirguna Brahman (which is infinite-space in this case).

It is not necessary for a person to remove all adjuncts to get eternal bliss but it is enough to know oneself as the kutastha atman distinct from the jeeva and upaadhis. The upaadhis might seem to exist but the jnaani knows that they are not there. A person who knows that there is no water in desert might still see water but he will not run behind it – even if he runs behind it to show other ajnaanis that there is no water, he is not sad after not finding water because he knew that the water he is seeing is not real. Once a person knows himself to be the kutastha distinct from jeeva, that is the state of realization – he then might see the world and other objects even as we dream daily though knowing that there is no dream world. But at all times, he will know himself as the kutastha atman (indifferent from Nirguna Brahman) and thereby ever rejoices in eternal bliss.

We will continue with the advaitin’s explanation in the next mail in the series.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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