Selections from the ShAkta upaniShads -1 (bahvR^icha)
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 27 16:18:19 CDT 1998
Nanda Chandran wrote:
>Anand, I think I'm running in circles! I think I'm repeating the same
>questions over and over, so this will be my final posting on this
Do not forget to read introductory texts, like those I cited and
those cited by Ramakrishnan and others, in my last message.
It is not at all unusual to have doubts in studying advaita. But I
can assure you that all doubts can be cleared with proper study and
discussion, just as it's the case with any science. advaita is the
science (vijnAna) of the Self.
>>The "I" with no upAdhi's (limitations) is indeed th Brahman or Atman.
>>JIva is the Brahman/Atman with upAdhis.
>"I" or Jiva = Brahman + Upadhis
OK. Let us agree that jIva = Brahman + upAdhis. Note that
we are not saying Brahman has parts in it. It is indivisible,
The right hand side (RHS) of the equation has a real part and an
illusory part. Brahman is the real part. upAdhis is the imaginary
or illusory part. So jIva is indeed a "complex" entity with a
real part and an imaginary part! This should answer the question:
is jIva real or unreal?
>>The jIva however is affected by ignorance.
This follows because the upAdhis are part of the jIva and are
caused by ignorance. So what the jIva needs to do is to "lose"
its individuality in the sense that it must lose its upAdhis. Then,
only Brahman will remain. I say upAdhis give rise to the
individuality (including ego, mind, body, etc.). In some sense
the individuality uniquely identifies a particular jIva. To explain,
if you have N jIvas, we can write N equations,
jIva_1 = Brahman + upAdhis_1
jIva_2 = Brahman + upAdhis_2
jIva_N = Brahman + upAdhis_N
( I know that Ramakrishnan is fond of the case N=1, and says that
we can explain all of advaita with just N=1. But let me complicate
things a little and assume N>1. The case N=0 leads to a nihilist
As you can see, what distinguishes one jIva from another is just
the upAdhis part. If you do not consider the upAdhis part, any
jIva is identical to any other. A king, or President these days,
for example, may have a huge upAdhi (huge ego, huge possessions,
etc.) A cab driver, for example, may have a much smaller upAdhis
set (smaller sense of ego, meager possessions). But if you take
away their upAdhis they both reduce to Brahman, exactly the same.
So what causes the greatness or smallness of a person is really the
upAdhis. In the extreme case, we can compare God or Ishvara and a
jIva and come to the same conclusion. Ishvara is the One who has the
greatest upAdhis of all, called samaShTi mAyA. But even He is in
essence Brahman, which is also in essence a jIva.
What advaita says is that the upAdhis part of the jIva equation, is
illusory, not real. Obviously, when you drop the illusory part of
the equation, what remains is Brahman, not the jIva, because you
have destroyed the equation! Alternatively, you could also say that
the jIva becomes Brahman (brahmaiva bhavati).
>When you say Jiva is affected by ignorance, how can the Brahman be
>excluded or remain unaffected, when it is, after all the core of the
Let us be precise here. If the jIva is affected by ignorance,
the _effects_ of this are felt only at the upAdhis part of the
jIva. Remember that the mind is also included in the upAdhis
part of the jIva. So what advaita says is that ignorance only
affects, and its effects are felt only on, the upAdhis, such as mind,
etc. Ignorance can never affect the Self or Brahman part of the
jIva. The real part which is Brahman is never affected.
When the upAdhis are dropped, there is absolutely no effect on
the real Brahman part again. It remains the same as before.
In fact, we can go further and say that even the process of removal
of ignorance must be illusory or imaginary. It is just like one
imaginary part (jnAna or vidyA) cancelling out another imaginary
part the upAdhis or avidyA.
If you consider the upAdhis or avidyA part as a positive (+ sign),
then the vidyA which cancels it out should be a negative (- sign).
This is consistent with the Shruti statement, "neti, neti", meaning
"Not this, Not this", which seems to indicate a negative approach.
It is only by negating the avidyA or upAdhis with vidyA, which also
belongs to the same category of illusion, does one become Brahman.
At that time, it is realized that Brahman is all there is. There is
no avidyA, nor its counterpart vidyA.
I hope this is clear.
>I'm finding it very difficult to express what I'm finding difficult to
>Let's split the Jiva into three entities :
>So what's this conciousness?
I feel the above equation (jIva= Brahman + upAdhis) is a better
way to split the jIva. The mind, senses, ego, intellect, etc.,
the objects of the world can all be lumped into the upAdhis or
illusory part. But to answer your question, Consciousness is
Brahman or Atman (prajnAnaM brahma says the Shruti).
>Is it the Atman? If it's, then the question arises how can it be
>affected by the other two?
The mistake you seem to be making is clear now. Atman is _not_
affected by the mind and senses, or by anything else. As I
explained above, it is only the upAdhis (mind, etc) that are
affected by illusion. It may seem that Consciousness is affected,
but it is not the case.
>If it's not the Atman, then from where did it arise and what's it's
>relation to the Atman? And wouldn't this would imply that it's a
>seperate entity from the Atman? If so how can an effort towards
>understanding this Conciousness lead to the Atman?
These questions can never arise because I said that Consciousness
is Atman/Brahman. (prajnAnaM brahma)
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