Grace of God
sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Fri Jan 9 09:16:58 CST 1998
When I pressed the reply button, I did not realize that my reply went only
to Sri Ram Chandran and not to the advaita list. Response to my post by Ram
already appeared. For those who may be wondering this was my orginal post.
Sri Ram Chandran wrote:
>Is Brahman Nirguna or Saguna? This is an age-old question, which even
>the master-philosophers of the sages and seers have not solved. The
>best one can do, is to take sides with one or another of them, according
>our Taste and Evolutionary level. Sankara claims that Brahman by itself
Just some clarification from my understanding:
- Brahman is Nirguna, is stated not by Shankara but it is a scriptural
statement which he utilizes in his arguments.
Ramanuja also uses the Nirguna statement but selectively interprets Nirguna
as absence of durguna.
>Creation is unique and is always a scientific puzzle. Creation
>necessarily implies that something has come out of nothing.
I donot think so.
Science also emphasizes conservation of mass and energy and thus excludes
the impossibility of creating something out of nothing. Hence even by
science, creation does not imply something out of nothing. Even by science,
creation is assemblage or transformation of the existing thing - either in
the big bang theory or steady state theory. About the beginning of life and
consciousness, science has no clues, but only speculations. Currently they
are beginning to be concerned about the consciousness aspect.
Krishna confirms the conservation principle -
naasato vidyate bhaavo naabhaavo vidhyate sataH|
In a nut shell that which exists can never cease to exist and the
non-existence can ever exist.
In Chandigyopanishad Uddalaka states this clearly in his teaching to his
Existence was there before creation and it was one without a second. Some
say that that non-existence was there before, which was one without a
second and from the non-existence, existence came into being. How one can
say that? How can existence can come from non-existence? Therefore
existence indeed alone was there in the beginning. It was one without a
That existence saw, decided to become many and become many.
Thus he begins and explains how fire, water etc. were created from that
Hence even in our scriptures creation is perceived only as some sort of
transformation of sat and chit not something out of nothing.
>something comes out of something, it is called transformation and the
>process is known as the production technology. If we assume that
>something has come out of nothing then the origin has to be nothing!
>Looking from this intellectual point of view, it appears that Brahman,
>the Super Intelligence, responsible for the Creation is Nirguna. From
>the pure scientific point of view, something can never come out of
>nothing and consequently, everything other than Brahman is an Illusion.
>With this framework, Sankara's logic is flawless.
Yes- as stated above even before Shankara - Uddalaka in Chandigyopanishad
establishes that existence was there before.
But the difference between the advaitic interpretation and the
VishiTaadvaita (may be also dwaita) is the nature of this transformation.
According to advaita - creation is only adhyaasa - a superimposition of
names and forms on the existence consciousness principle. Like gold
It is not gold plus ornaments but gold as ornaments, while remaining gold.
While Ramanuja interprets creation as transformation of subtle to gross
form as parinaama. Lord Naarayana exists all the time - so is the jagat
and the individual souls - nothing is created. Jeeva satyam, jagat satyam
and paramaatma satyam. During the so called creation, the suukshma
(subtle) forms of jagat and assemblage of jeeva are transformed into
grosser forms. (may be like a big bang!) This transformation is
accomplished by Narayana by his maaya shakti. Naarayana ever remains
immaculately pure as the ananta kalyaana gunaa ashraya - locus of all the
infinite auspicious Gunas. Hence Ramanuja interprets Nirguna as absence
of bad gunas, but Brahman with sad gunaas.
Durgunas arise only in the interaction of the jeevas with the matter,
jeevas due to the forgetfulness of Naarayana. Sagunopaasana hence is
essential to realize Lord Naarayana. Liberation or mukti is possible only
with Naaraayana's grace since by human effort, the mayaa skhakti cannot be
overcome. That the father's grace is much easier to secure if one goes
through the mother, Lakshmi. Hence Shree is emphasized Shreevaishnavism of
Ramanuja. There are no jeevan muktas. Liberation is only possible after
death of this mortal life. Complete surrenderence to the Lord -
sharaNaagati is the essential means for securing the grace of the Lord -
Just the way Vibhiishana, Gajendra, Prahallada etc. did.
>Science defines Production unambiguously.
This is true for the relative. But does not apply to the existence of the
Universe (space-time) and consciousness. Science still has no clues
but some ambiguous theories.
> The idea of a gold bangle is creativity or Super
>Intelligence. Looking from this intellectual point of view, the origin
>of all ideas comes from Brahman. In addition, material resources and
>people are necessary to explain all the changes that take place in this
>universe. With this framework, Madhawacharya's logic of A Saguna
>Brahman is flawless.
That creation involves superior intelligence and the creation is the
manifestation of that intelligence is agreed by advaita too. That is what
is Iswara implies. That Iswara is Saguana. I donot think there is
disagreement with that either.
Advaita goes one step beyond the creator and the creation and the
intelligence aspect - cause - effect relationships. That itself is time
bound and asks the very basic question where and how did the time came into
picture. Science has that problem too. They can only talk about millionth
of the second after the bang, since even time starts with the bang. You
can not ask what was there before since before involves time, but time is
positive after the bang.
>Does this exercise resolve the age-old question? The answer is No. Both
>these approaches use intellectual frameworks and do not allow the human
>intellect to go beyond the human limitations to explain the nature of
>Brahman. There is little disagreement about the existence of the "Super
>Consciousness" or "Brahman." The nature of Brahman is still known. The
>declaration that we know the nature of Brahman, undermines the TRUTH.
>The only person that can know the TRUTH is TRUTH! The seers of the
>Upanishads were very successful in their discussions and
>deliberations. According to the Vedas, the intellect has limitations
>to explain either the Beginning or the End. Only Brahman knows the
>Beginning and the End. When we go beyond our limitations, we can
>realize Brahman and know Brahman. Until, then let us proceed with the
>slogan from the Upanishads: "Life is a Bridge, enjoy while crossing and
>don't build any castle on it"
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
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