Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sat Sep 21 22:18:23 CDT 2002
[This is another message from an off-list conversation]
On Wed, 18 Sep 2002, Ashish Chandra wrote:
> > "> >If 'Advaita' implies 'Brahman', then 'Advaita'
> > > should
> > > >be a 'Noun' and not an 'adjective' right ?
> > > >"
> > As you took the recourse to the dictionary to resolve
> > the argument, I pointed out that if "Advaita" implies
> > Brahman, Brahman being a noun, 'Advaita' also should
> > be a noun.
> Yes you are right - most of the time we do use Advaita as a noun. For
> example, the most widely accepted implication of the word Advaita is the
> term Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara.
> However, when someone uses the word Advaita, it does not automatically imply
> Vedanta, like the example I used i.e. Brahman is Advaita (non-dual). Instead
> of the word Brahman, I could use the pronoun (neuter gender) It, saying "It
> is Advaita". Here, the usage of the adjective Advaita depends entirely on
> the context and the word Vedanta should not be automatically assumed.
> In addition, what I said is Advaita, when used in and of itself could only
> mean Brahman as it alone is non-dual, beyond all defects etc. You, and
> others, may not agree with me and that is quite ok. However, where I am in
> disagreement with Jaldhar, and perhaps others who supports his line, is that
> an adjective in and of itself is nothing. The example you used was "Red is
> running" to mean "Red Horse is running". Here the word Red implies nothing -
> it could mean a "Red Dog is running" or "Red Man is running" etc. Redness is
> a property (guna) I guess and does not indicate anything beyond the fact
> that it is present in the object being referred to. The word Red itself
> tells us nothing about the object it qualifies other than the fact that the
> property of being red is percieved in the object being so qualified.
> Why I say Advaita used alone signifies Brahman is because of this: Cowness
> is a property that uniquely identifies a cow. Although Cowness is a
> property, it is not found in any other animal, e.g. a horse, dog, cat etc.
> We cannot identify a cow simply by saying it has vegetarian-ness,
> animal-ness, four-legged-ness etc. although each of these is present in a
> cow. What uniquely identifies a cow is the property of being a cow -
> Cowness. Similarly, the word Advaita, being an adjective, means non-dual,
> blemishless etc. Although it is used with the word Advaita Vedanta to mean
> Adi Shankara's school, it is used in the sense that "this school of Vedanta,
> which are the Upanishads, teaches that Brahman is Advaita". I say this
> because the term Dvaita Vedanta also exists. If Dvaita and Advaita are both
> used for the word Vedanta and imply it (like you have pointed out i.e.
> Advaita implies Advaita Vedanta), the we have an issue.
> For example:
> Day = Presence of sun
> Dayness = Property that the presence of Sun is percieved
> Night = opposite of Day.
> if we are to say
> Nightness = Property that the absence of Sun is percieved
> Then Dayness and Nightness cannot *imply* the same thing can they?
> So the usage of the words Advaita and Dvaita are dependent on the word that
> they qualify i.e. Vedanta, for us to get the complete meaning of what is
> Dvaita Vedanta: Doctrine concluding the teachings of Vedanta conclude a
> duality in Brahman
> Advaita Vedanta: Doctrine concluding the teachings of Vedanta conclude
> non-duality in Brahman
> Now it becomes clear what these terms mean. However, the key word is that
> Advaita and Dvaita do not *imply* anything.
> But here is where I added my own observation, which you are free to disagree
> with, that taking into account words like "Aham Brahmasmi", "Ekameva
> Advitiyam" which are found in Upanishads, the word Advaita *when used
> alone*, meaning non-dual, as a qualification, can truly exist in Brahman
> only. So if anything, Advaita (non-dual) could only mean Brahman as only
> Brahman has advayatva - the property of being non-dual (Here I am using the
> word property for Brahman when we know He has no such thing, so it is used
> as an example only and not in the strictest sense).
> e.g. The word Beautiful indicates a qualification of the object it
> qualifies. The qualification is that the such object is beautiful or that
> the said object has the property of being beautiful. Here the object could
> be a painting, a sculpture or a girl. This is because the property of being
> beautiful exists in many thing, just like four-leggedness exists in a lot of
> animals besides a cow.
> But, Advaita used alone implies Brahman, in my opinion, because the property
> indicated by this word, i.e. advayatva (the property of being non-dual)
> exists only in Brahman.
> If we are to say something like Water in the Ocean has advayatva because
> water in the ocean is uniform, non-dual so we can call it Advaita Jal
> Saagar, then we would not be incorrect, but at the same time, be dependent
> on the word Ocean (Saagar) to find out where the property (advayatva)
> signified by Advaita exists: it exists in the water of the ocean.
> On the other hand, Advaita, indicating a property of advayatva, could, *when
> used alone*, imply nothing else but Brahman.
> However, what if a Dvaitavaadin makes the claim Dvaita also implies Brahman.
> Then what do we say? We say no - because dvayatva, or the property of being
> two, exists in many thing e.g. two fruits of the same tree, two roses, two
> stars etc. The Dvaitavaadin may, in addition, say something like: we don't
> agree with you because Advaita does not exist in Brahman because of the
> conclusion of our doctrine of Dvaita. Then what do we do? Then, I guess, we
> start debating to establish that Brahman is Advaita, and once that is
> accomplished, we can probably go back to saying Advaita, *when used alone*,
> implies Brahman.
> > The only question is if "Advaita Vedanta" with the
> > tenets of Jiva Brahmaika Ikyam, j~nAna, j~nEya,
> > j~nAtru abhedatvam, whole visible universe being the
> > manifestation of Brahman and not separate from Brahman
> > - was known and expounded before Acharya Sankara or
> > not. Though these are derived from the Vedas which are
> > eternal, was it understood in the same light before
> > Acharya Sankara.
> Yes and very much so. Even the Advaita Vedanta Parampara traces back to Lord
> Narayana, then Sanandana, Maharishi Vashishtha and others. The teaching is
> Sanatan, like our Dharma, but the formality and the clear distinction that
> exists in Advaita Vedanta of today is only because of Jagadguru Adi
> > Even though we can consider Acharya Gaudapada's
> > Mandukya Karika, his asparsa, ajAta theory seems to be
> > even higher, profound and different from what Acharya
> > Sankara expounded.
> Here is where one has to bear in mind the ground reality in India. There are
> several thousand yogis and jivanmuktas who live outside the glare of
> society, doing their work at a differnt level and plane. To offer the
> argument that their establishment in Brahman is any less than
> Shankaracharya's is sheer ignorance. These mahatmas do not write any books
> or expound philosophies to be taught in a fixed disciplic tradition. But
> they have their ways and this is how it has always been in India. They deal
> directly with people, raising the latter's level and bringing them closer to
> God. This is not just some belief in a mystical thing - it is ground
> reality. If you are to go into the villages of Himalayas, belief in the
> saints is a household story. They may not have heard of Adi Shankaracharya's
> philosophy but they have firm belief in these saints. The story is repeated
> throughout India as well. So the terms "higher, profound" etc. must not
> imply that what these saints are doing is any less profound. One of these
> saints has said "Sab Ek hai". This is profound enough because it is based on
> His first hand experience. Now it is upto us, the seekers, to ask him how we
> can attain the same state. This can be through following the teachings of
> Adi Shankara, or it can be by following this saint.
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