sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Wed Nov 26 06:11:47 CST 1997
>On Mon, 24 Nov 1997, Chandran, Nanda (NBC) wrote:
>> the author(s) favours the Advaitam perspective. But I would like to know
>> how Ramanuja and Madhva interpret statments like 'Tat vam asi' and 'Aham
>> Brahmasmi' in their respective schools, which refute non-dualism. Can
>> the knowledgable clarify?
I followed the discussion by Charles Wikner and Govind Rengarajan - Let me
give my understanding.
Thay are two ways the "tattvam asi" is discussed in the Dwaita and
First - avagraha (a) is added before "tattvam asi" - in splitting the total
sentense where these words come - it then becomes "atattvam asi"
Essentially you are not that! - Of course it baffles me - Why do I need
the scriptures to teach me that I am not that since I already have the
notions that I am not that.
The second explanation follows more logically the Chandigya Upanishad.
This is the explanation by Sri Ramanuja. Each time this statement is used
in the Upanishad, there is big introduction before that. For example -
Uddalaka asks his son Swetaketu to bring the seed of a banayan tree and ask
him to break it and see if there is a tree in it. Swetaketu can not see
any thing inside. Uddalaka says this gigantic tree was there in the subtle
form in the seed. It is the projection of the subtle existence which was
there before. Similarly - tat twam asi - you are that in the sense you are
in the subtle form before and now you are projected into grosser form.
Before this teaching started there was some introductory teaching by Uddalaka
sadeva somya idam agra aseet - ekameva adviteeyam
Hay good looking one, existence was there before the creation and
it is one without a second.
- tat aikshyata, bahu shyaam prajaayeyeti -
It saw - implying that the existence was also consciousness since an inert
object cannot see. Since it is one without second, it cannot see "any
thing" otherthan itself. Esentially it became self conscious, it is
decided to become many and became many. This is how the creation was
introduced in the begining.
Hence when Uddalaka continues with his teaching that leads to tat tvam asi
- Ramanuja self consistently explains the creation as projection of subtle
to gross. So from his point, there are three satyams - paramaatma satyam,
jeeva satyam and jagat satyam. During pralayam, jagat and the jeevaas
enter into (as though) Paramaatma and remain dormant in a subtle state.
Graphically picturized in the Bhagavatam (Vatapatra shayee) as Lord in the
child form inhaling the whole universe into himself and he exhales when the
universe which is now in the subtle form is projected out as groser form.
Just as banaiyan tree can only come from banayan seed, individual seeds,
Jeevas, projected back with their respective vasanaas. tat tvam asi
Swetaketu - you are that which existed in the subtle form (tat) and you are
that in the gross form now (twam). When Lord projects himself as a gross
from - viswaruupa, all the jeevas will be going and coming back as see in
the Virat Purusha. VishisTa advaita exphasizes the vishiTa aspect of the
advaita - you are part of the Lord, yet you are different from the Lord -
Just as each cell and limb in my body is different from me yet I pervade
this entire body as my slef. Lord supports this through His Maya shakti.
Jeeva cannot get over by action or by will or by knowledge this Maaya
shakti - only surrendering to the Lord, he can overcome this Maaya -
daivii yeshaa guNa mayi mama maaya duratyayaa|
maamevaye prapadyante mayaa metam tarantite ||
This maya shakti is of divine origin and my maaya is impossible to cross.
Only surrendering to me one can cross this mayaa - says Krishna.
Ramanuja's model is self-consistent and in a way unifies divergent
scriptures - those that emphasizes the saguNa Brahma and those that
emphasies NiruguNa Brahama. In his model tat tvam asi is also explained in
a self-consistent logical fashion. Hence it is called VishishhTaadvaita,
qualified monoism. Whether one agrees with him or not is a different
question. This is where I have problem taking shaatra alone as pramaana.
His model is equally right based on the shaastra.
Of course putting avagraha in front of tat tvam asi and claim that is what
scripture says does not appeal to me. Although I have read this in the
interpretations, I do not know if this is the essential argument of
If Sri Shirish is still in the adviata list and reads this, may be he can
present the dwaita interpretation of (a) tat tvam asi to educate us.
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
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