sAmAnAdhikaraNyam/intros and table

ken knight hilken_98 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Aug 10 15:19:05 CDT 2002

Namaste all,
This now completes the main exercise.  I will try to
sort out the problem of the missing footnotes.
Hope some of you have been able to find this of value,

Om sri ram

ken Knight

Intros. and Table


Swami Vivekananda said, “All Knowledge is Veda.”
Knowledge is eternal and therefore knowledge can only
be discovered, not created. The Vedas are the
repositories of all knowledge, secular and spiritual.
In our scheme of education all secular knowledge
should lead us to the higher knowledge or the
spiritual knowledge, the parA vidyA. The VedAnta is
the culmination of the Vedas and the mahAvAkya, the
‘great dictum’ is the logical conclusion of VedAnta.
The four Vedas which contain several Upanishads give
us the four mahAvAkyas, generally recognised as such.
These statements are ‘great’ in meaning and are
authoritative pronouncements on the essential identity
between the JivAtman and the ParamAtman according to
the Advaita system of philosophy. Generally it is held
by the Advaitins that the mahAvAkya by itself can
cause the direct cognition of this essential identity
while only VAcaspati MiShra, holds it is the
meditation on the meaning of the mahAvAkya that causes
this cognition and not mere Shabda (hearing the
mahAvAkya). Either way the full import of the
Mahãvãkya is to be correctly understood and this
realisation is the goal of all SAdhana. To those
initiated into the method of Shravana, manana and
nididhyAsana, the meaning of the mahAvAkya is
explained using the dialectical method. It is this
kind of reasoning that has been rendered into simple
readable English by Prof.T.N. Ganapathy in this book.

For the uninitiated, however, the meaning and message
of the mahAvAkyas may come through secondary
scriptures like the PurANas and even literature. A
distinctive characteristic of our national literature
is its capacity to convey the message of Mukti,
freedom. The meaning may also be brought home to us by
the testimony of seers. As such we come across
glimpses of this knowledge in the utterances of
prophets even outside the fold of Hinduism as for
example in the utterance of Christ “I and my Father
are one” and in the love poems of the Sufl mystics.

This profound philosophy of VedAnta which seeks to
discover unity, and its possible social implications
are elaborately discussed by Swami Vivekananda in his
lectures on J~nAna Yoga and Practical VedAnta. They
may be summed up as follows: “All reasoning ends only
in finding unity; so we first use analysis than
synthesis. In the world of science the forces are
gradually narrowed down in the search for one
underlying force. When physical science can perfectly
grasp the final unity, it will have reached an end,
for reaching unity we find rest. Knowledge is final.”

“Religion the most precious of all sciences, long ago
discovered that final unity to reach which is the
object of J~nAna Yoga.
All is the Self or Brahman. The saint, the sinner, the
lamb, the tiger, even the murderer as far as they have
any reality, can be nothing else because there is
nothing else... Nothing can be higher than this
knowledge, and in those purified by Yoga it comes in
flashes to the soul... This was discovered 4,000 years
ago, but has not yet become the property of the race,
it is still the property of some individuals only. For
the man who has become perfect, nothing remains but to
apply his understanding. He lives only to help the
world, desiring nothing for himself. What
distinguishes is negative — the positive is ever wider
and wider. What we have in common is the widest of
all, and that is ‘Being’.”

Again the process, the methodology of spiritual
striving, is given in the words of Swamiji, as, “The
awakening of the soul to its bondage and its effort to
stand up and assert itself — this is called life.
Success in this struggle is called evolution. The
eventual triumph, when all the slavery is blown away,
is called salvation, NirvANa, freedom. Everything in
the universe is struggling for liberty. When I am
bound by nature, by name and form, by time, space and
causality, I do not know what I truly am. But even in
this bondage my real self is not completely lost. I
strain against the bonds; one by one they break, and I
become conscious of my innate grandeur. Then comes
complete liberation. I attain to the clearest and
fullest consciousness of myself— I know that I am the
infinite spirit, the master of nature, not its slave.
Beyond all differentiation and combination, beyond
space, time and causation I am that I am.” So this is
the meaning of the mahAvAkya, and Swamiji has
elaborately dealt with the social implications of the
mahAvAkya in his lectures on Practical VedAnta.

There is another way to understand the meaning of
mahAvAkya which the Upanishad describes using a
brilliant poetic imagery. This can best be explained
using Swamiji’s paraphrase of the relevant verse. “Two
birds sat on one tree. The bird at the top was calm,
majestic, beautiful, perfect. The lower bird was
always hopping from twig to twig, now eating sweet
fruits and being happy, now eating bitter fruits and
being miserable. One day, when he had eaten a fruit
more hitter than usual, he glanced up to the majestic
upper bird and thought, “How I would like to be like
him!” — and he hopped up a little way towards him.
Soon he forgot all about his desire to be like the
upper bird, and went on as before, eating sweet and
bitter fruits, and being happy and miserable. Again he
looked up, again he went up a little nearer to the
calm and majestic upper bird. Many times was this
repeated until at last he drew very near the upper
bird; the brilliancy of his plumage dazzled him,
seemed to absorb him, and finally, to his wonder and
surprise, he found there was only one bird he was the
upper bird all the time and had but just found it out.
Man is like that lower bird but if he perseveres in
his efforts to rise to the highest ideal, he can
conceive of, he too will find that he was the self all
the time and the other was but a dream.”

If we delve into the meaning of our art, architecture,
poetry, or drama, we shall discover that the same
theme of unity is depicted in all these various
expressions of human will or emotion. Sister Nivedita
says, “The Indian picture expresses unity. The Italian
would have been full of broken suggestions... A true
picture must be suggestive.” Our philosophy and
psychology of aesthetics, and literary criticism again
are informed by this theme of unity. The evolution of
thought from BhaTTalollaTa to Abhinavagupta
illustrates this fact. This runs parallel to the
evolution of philosophical ideas from
NyAya-VaiSheshika to VedAnta. Some of these ideas are:
A real aesthetic enjoyment is possible, according to
our AlankArikas, only when BhAvas are universalised.
They lose their effects when perceived in a general
way. Again this enjoyment is alaukika or
transcendental (this comes very near to the Vedäntic
idea). Even grief depicted in literature creates only
joy in the mind of the sahR^idaya.

Thus we see that the theme of the mahAvAkya, the
essential unity of all existence, is the most
fascinating theme and provides us the key to
understand the hidden sources of our strength and
meaning of all our endeavours in various fields of
thinking and action. It is this that Swami Vivekananda
wanted to be broadcast in a language understood by the
common man. This problem has several aspects. The
author has made a good start in tackling one aspect of
the problem, of rendering in simple English the
traditional approach. We hope that he will continue to
work on this noble theme and convey its message
effectively to one and all.

Secretary & Correspondent
Ramakris/ina Mission Vivekananda College


Dr. Ganapathy is to be congratulated on his brochure
on the mahAvAkyas mahAvAkya, wherein he has expounded
a highly technical subject in a non-technical manner,
without however sacrificing the profundity of the
subject in the interest of a simplified exposition.
The interpretation given is exclusively according to
the tradition of KevalAdvaita or pure Non-dualism, and
is meant to show that a mahAvAkya is called so because
it is akhaNDArthabodhaka — that is, it declares the
unitary and partless nature of the supreme Truth.
There are two steps in the establishment of this
thesis. First it is pointed out that the
above-mentioned relationship is established through
aikya-sAmAnAdhikaraNya or co-ordinate relationship of
the identity of the two terms of the vAkya (sentence)
like Tat tvam asi (That thou art). sAmAnAdhikaraNya
(co-ordinate relationship) occurs when the two terms
of a sentence have a common reference. But this need
not necessarily be one of identity. This is explained
by analysing sixteen forms of sAmAnAdhikaraNya and
showing how none of them except the aikya-
sAmAnAdhikaraNya can establish the true unity of the
twoterms, and therefore of the unity of existence as a
whole, which is the purport of all VedAnta.

The next step in the argument seeks to show how there
can be unity and a common reference even when the
two-terms —Tat, standing for IShvara and Tvam standing
for jIva — have, apparently different denotations.
This is achieved by the doctrine that words in a
sentence can have two meanings — one vAcyArtha or
manifest meaning, and the other lakshyArtha or implied
meaning. In the great sentence Tat tvam asi, the
manifest meaning of tat is IShvara, but the implied
meaning, Brahman, the attributeless Absolute. So also
in the case of tvam ‘you’ too, the implicit meaning
(lakshaNA) is Brahman while the manifest meaning
(vAcya) is the jIva. Thus the identity of both the
terms is obtained by the elimination of the adjuncts
of both. When this is done, their common substratum,
which is their implied meaning too, is found to be
identical. To further elucidate this point, the
various forms of lakshaNA, or meanings by implication,
are analysed. Of the three types of lakshaNAs
considered, what is called jahad-ajahal-lakshaNA
(exclusive-non-exclusive implication) ,is favoured as
applicable to the context of mahAvAkyas.
If a critique of the theme is allowed in a Foreword,
the present writer would like to offer the following
reflections. The whole thesis is based on the
acceptance of the idea that the purport of the VedAnta
is to teach the unity of all existence. This position
is unexceptionable. But the study of the Upanishadic
texts would show that there are two types of unity —
unity by sublation of all multiplicity, and unity
through the subordination of all multiplicity by the
one unifying principle. Now the traditional standpoint
of kevalAdvaita is that the first of these types of
unity alone is the ultimate position, and that
wherever the second type of unity is referred to, it
is only provisional, base camp to be abandoned and
negated ultimately.

Now is it absolutely necessary that a liberal doctrine
like that of VedAnta should be interpreted in such an
exclusive fashion? Why should only one kind of
sAmAnAdhikaraNya, namely Aikya-sAmAnAdhikaraNya, be
favoured? Some of the other kinds of co-ordination
like kArya-kAiraNa (effect and cause) and aMsAMShin
(part and whole) mentioned in the thesis can as well
be considered as applicable. There are some arguments
brought against them, but they are not convincing to
those who take this latter view of VedAnta. Similar
shortcomings can be found also in the type of identity
favoured by the kevalAdvaita. It can only lead to
endless controversy of an inconclusive nature,
weakening the doctrine of the VedAnta.
The better course therefore will be to hold that
VedAnta particular to show only the unity of
existence, accepting at the same time several types of
co-ordination like those of absolute identity, of part
and whole, of cause and effect, etc. Immediately the
objection will arise how the same sentence can have
conflicting meanings. The answer is that they are not
conflicting but complementary and that there is no
rule that a sentence can have only one meaning, which
is so in regard to a logicians sentence no doubt, but
not of a poet. In the compositions of great poets like
KAlidAsa and Shakespeare we get passages having more
than one layer of meaning. All these meanings co-exist
in the passages without any conflict. And if we
conceive of God more as a poet than a logician, we can
understand how His revelation can be multifaceted,
catering to the needs of men of different temperaments
and capacities. Scriptures are revelations only
because unlike the compositions of logicians and
grammarians, they are meant to cater to humanity at
large. And a mahAvAkya is the quintessence of
revelation. For the grammarian a mahAvAkya as opposed
to a laghuvAkya, is a sentence with a very large
number of words. For the logical Advaitin it is a
sentence of a few words teaching a great truth, namely
akhaNDArtha or the doctrine of non-difference. But
perhaps a saint and a seer will find its mahattva,
greatness, in that it is many-faceted, expounding the
unity of existence in its several aspects. The
greatness of mahAvAkyas consists in that they embody
several forms of co-ordination without any conflict.
Scriptural exegesis in VedAnta has to pass from the
sway of logical exclusiveness into the liberalism of
mystical all-inclusiveness.

Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras,


bAdhAyAM                              adhyAsa
aikya                  others


ShastrakR^ita           sa~NketakR^ita      guNakR^ita

sampad-upAsti               pratika- upAsti
          (3)                                (4)

kriyA-kriyAvat                       guNa-guNin
       (8)                                        (9)

prakR^iti-vikR^iti                stuti
       upacAra             aMShaMShin
       (13)                               (14)
                 (15)                        (16)

1. bAdhAyAM                      Coordinate relation
in terms of contradiction
under adhyAsa comes dosha-kR^ita and adosha-kR^ita:
2. dosha-kR^ita                     Coordinate
relation due to error.
Under  adosha-kR^ita comes ShastrakR^ita  and
sampad-upAsti and pratika- upAsti, under ShastrakR^ita
3. sampad-upAsti                  Coordinate relation
in terms of meditation on the excellence of something
4. pratika-upAsti                         Coordinate
relation in terms of meditation on a symbol.
Directly under adosha-kR^ita come sa~NketakR^ita  and
5. sa~NketakR^ita                 Coordinate relation
based on convention.
6. guNakR^ita                     Coordinate relation
due to quality.
Under viSheshaNa-viSheshya come 7,8,9,10.
7. jAti-vyakti                          Coordinate
relation in terms of the universal and the particular
8. kriyA-kriyAvat                  Coordinate relation
that exists between the act and the doer.
9. guNa-guNin                       Coordinate
relation in terms of substance and attribute
10 upakaraNa-upakaraNin.    Coordinate relation in
terms of an instrument and its possessor
aikya is by itself
11 aikya                                 Coordinate
relation in terms of identity
under others come the rest.
12.kArya-kAraNa                  Coordinate relation
in terms of cause-effect
13 prakR^iti-vikR^iti            Coordinate relation
in terms of matter and form
14. stuti                                      Coordinate
relation in terms of eulogy
15. upacAra                       Coordinate relation in
terms of courtesy
16. aMShaMShin                    Coordinate relation
in terms of the part and the  whole.

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