Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Sep 26 00:50:55 CDT 2002
[Another message in a conversation taking place off-list]
On Mon, 23 Sep 2002, Ashish Chandra wrote:
> > On Wed, 18 Sep 2002, Ashish Chandra wrote:
> > > 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.
> > >
> > If the meaning of a word is widely accepted (and by now I think we all
> > agree that inthis case it is) than the person who uses it differently is
> > misusing it. Or at the very least they have to justify the divergent
> > interpretation.
> Take the word "Buddhist". To almost everyone, it means the follower of
> Buddha. But within Buddhists, there are several types and it is only evident
> to those who know that Buddhism is not a monolithic sect that it is made out
> to be. So even though we accept that "Buddhist" means a follower of Buddha,
> we do recognize that it is not just one huge blanket covering the
> Kshanikvaadins and the Madhyamikas.
> In the present context, what it implies is that even though we accept
> Advaita (when used as a noun) to widely imply Advaita Vedanta of Adi
> Shankara, we know (or should know), that there are several other teachings
> of realized souls who may not have agreed with Adi Shankara entirely but who
> still maintain, due to their direct experience, that Brahman is One only and
> that it is everything.
> It is another issue as to where those teachings exist and why they are not
> formalized into a tradition so the Advaitavaada of Adi Shankara can argue
> with the Advaitavaada of say, Rishi Aurobindo, who, I might add, I am barely
> familiar with but know that he disagreed with Adi Shankara.
> > > However, when someone uses the word Advaita, it does not automatically
> > > Vedanta,
> > But you just said it is the popular and accepted meaning. It actually
> > takes effort to disassociate it with that meaning.
> But it does not mean that a different meaning could not be construed or
> implied at all. When someone says "This is the doctrine of Advaita or
> Aikyataa" after a discourse, it does not automatically mean that the school
> of Adi Shankara is meant. What the discourse may contain is that Brahman (or
> Bhagwan) is niraakaar, nirguna, gunaatita, sarvasampanna etc which would
> tell you exactly what the Upanishads say, but it might not be the same as
> what Adi Shankara might have to say about what they mean and imply.
> It is only in this context that most people use the word Advaita (including
> me). I have, throughout this discussion, never said that what someone else
> has said is Advaita of Adi Shankara.
> > > 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
> > > is Advaita". Here, the usage of the adjective Advaita depends entirely
> > > the context and the word Vedanta should not be automatically assumed.
> > >
> > For that matter 'it' in that sentence also refers to Brahman. but it
> > cannot be automatically assumed either. Only the juxtaposition of it and
> > advaita in the particular grammatical form of a sentence gives you a clue
> > that Brahman is being talked about. How did that juxtaposition arise?
> > From previous knowledge. Where did you (or whoever taught you) learn that
> > knowledge? Advaita Vedanta.
> You are directly relating the "knowledge of Brahman or what it is" with
> Advaita Vedanta and implying that they are mutually exclusive. But they are
> not. To one who has never had anything to do with the school of Adi
> Shankara, the knowledge of what Brahman is has come from some other lineage,
> or perhaps, it came of itself. If what you say is taken to be a fact, no
> realized person could have existed before Adi Shankara or that their
> knowledge was somehow not perfect. But that would be absurd. Even you
> recognize that what Adi Shankara formalized was, perhaps, a non-formal
> tradition, maybe even a hidden tradition that he made famous. This
> tradition, if we are to believe even what the Shankaracharyas say, has
> always been existent in the form of the Guru-Shishya parampara.
> I am remineded of a paragraph I read in the "Autobiography of a Yogi" [
> http://www.crystalclarity.com/yogananda/chap33/chap33.html ]. In this
> chapter, Paramhansa Yogananda is talking of his Param Paramguru, Mahavtar
> Babaji. PY met Mahavtar Babaji and Babaji is said to have said (maybe to PY
> or someone else) that he gave Adi Shankara initiation to Kriya Yoga
> (although Yoga is mentioned, Kriya Yoga is implied).
> > > However, where I am in
> > > disagreement with Jaldhar, and perhaps others who supports his line, is
> > > an adjective in and of itself is nothing. The example you used was "Red
> > > 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
> > > property of being red is percieved in the object being so qualified.
> > >
> > Yes but how is this relevant to the way language is actually used? What
> > Srikrishna is saying is that when the word Red is heard the horse is
> > automatically assumed in the mind of the listener.
> Only when the said horse is *seen* to be running or some such other implied
> association that makes the relation of Red with Horse unambiguous exists,
> can we say that Red is running implies Red Horse is running. So without
> saying the word Vedanta when Advaita is said, unless one is sitting in the
> company of those discussing Vedanta or Adi Shankara, no such presumption can
> be made if we are to be true to the meaning and definition of the word.
> Ravi has said in his email that without a commentary on the Prasthaan Trayi,
> no tradition or teaching is recognized as a formal line of Vedanta. But who
> is doing the recognizing - those who are part of one such tradition itself.
> Those who have not formalized their teaching cannot be considered by, say,
> followers of Adi Shankara. But why should they not be recognized as Gurus as
> well (here I use the word Guru in exactly the way the Upanishad defines it
> Gu-Ru) who have taught about the reality of God as being everywhere and
> everything i.e. Advaitam?
> > Here are some other
> > examples. Pavaka means purifier. It is a name for Agni. Even though it
> > could refer to other things i.e. cow dung or Ganga jal which are
> > purifiers, anyone who knows Sanskrit will know without ambiguity that it
> > is Agni which is being referred to. Vipra literally means sage. But it is
> > invariably used to mean Brahmana regardless of whether he is actually a
> > sage or not. When I talk to Ashish. I know I am talking about a person,
> > not the abstract concept of blessing. When we say Advaita it is
> > understood that Advaita Vedanta is being referred to.
> What you are saying is not incorrect. However, it is incomplete. Pavaka is
> an adjective. It is also a name for Agni. But Pavaka can be used by saying
> "pavaka jal". Similarly, as you have indicated, Vipra means sage but is used
> in almost every case to indicate Brahmana. So what about the exceptions to
> the ordinary usage? And who decides? When I started to respond to this
> thread, I had used the word Advaita only in the sense that it implied the
> teaching that Brahman is one and that It is everything. Now we are
> discussing the correct usage of it. When Advaita is used, what if Advaita
> Vedanta of Adi Shankara is not being referred to? So would such usage be
> wrong keeping in mind that Advaita is used in the context of describing
> Brahman and not the school of Adi Shankara?
> > So context is important and owing to its' nature runs the risk of
> > misinterpretation. That's why to be precise and not confuse the ignorant
> > we should say Advaita Vedanta instead of abbreviating it. But just
> > because misinterpretation is possible doesn't mean we have to consider it
> > valid in any way. Just as if someone thinks Pavaka means Vayu, we don't
> > have to consider that an alternative interpretation just a sign of
> > illiteracy.
> But Pavaka *means* Agni - I think even the dicitionaries mention that it
> *means* Agni. Saying Pavaka is Ganga Jal is equally valid as long as Ganga
> Jal is somehow implied. But the meaning of Pavaka itself makes it possible
> to say that it is Agni being referred to, when it is used alone, and not
> Ganga Jal. Does such a clear meaning exist for Advaita (adj.) or Advaitam
> (n) meaning or implying Vedanta?
> Misinterpretation, as you mention it, is a loaded word. Misinterpreted in
> the eyes of whom? A follower of Adi Shankara's school or a follower of Rishi
> Audobindo? I get the feeling that we are veering more and more towards
> 1) Saints have attained Brahmanhood and so they cannot be wrong when they
> talk of Brahman
> 2) Why do saints (apparently or not) disagree with one another and
> 3) Who is finally right and who is wrong, if there be such a distinction.
> It seems to me that agreement exists when Brahman is being described.
> However, most of the conflicting statements pop up when the Sansara is
> brought up. What is it, what is it's nature etc. is where I have, so far,
> seen disagreement. Even Bhamati and Vivarana disagreed not on what Brahman
> is but what is Maya and what is its relation to Brahman etc.
> > > Why I say Advaita used alone signifies Brahman is because of this:
> > > 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
> > > 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
> > > cow. What uniquely identifies a cow is the property of being a cow -
> > > Cowness. Similarly, the word Advaita, being an adjective, means
> > > blemishless etc. Although it is used with the word Advaita Vedanta to
> > > Adi Shankara's school, it is used in the sense that "this school of
> > > which are the Upanishads, teaches that Brahman is Advaita". I say this
> > > because the term Dvaita Vedanta also exists. If Dvaita and Advaita are
> > > used for the word Vedanta and imply it (like you have pointed out i.e.
> > > Advaita implies Advaita Vedanta), the we have an issue.
> > >
> > Only if we assume Vedanta is one thing. If one mother names her son
> > Jaldhar and another names her son Ashish we don't have a problem because
> > we know that the class son has multiple members. They are both justified
> > in saying "hey son come here." without confusion as to what they are
> > refering to.
> That is because son does not mean one. But Advaita means that which is one
> only, or that which has the property of advayatva. To what else can this
> epithet apply? We have seen the Buddhist definition of Advaya and how they
> say that it is not Advaita of Adi Shankara because Brahman is whatever there
> is and Advaya refers to the understanding that the illusion of the world is
> not-two but one, and that it is *not a thing* all the same. What would
> Advaita Vedantins of Adi Shankara's lineage have to say to that: not that
> what is being referred to is dvaya(dual) but that its true nature is not
> being understood (as *being* and not *not being*). I guess the closest
> example I can think of is someone looking at a block of ice and calling it
> "cold water". The adjective "cold" is correct but the noun "water" is not.
> So, advayatva, as described by Adi Shankara, exists in Brahman, and
> advayatva as described by Madhyamikas exists in the illusion of sansara.
> > So why does Vedanta refer to multiple things and Advaita to only one?
> > Historical reasons. We can see that right from the beginning there have
> > been multiple interpretations of Vedanta. We can only see one
> > interpretation of Advaita which is still continuing to the present day.
> If you mean Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara, then yes. If you mean teaching
> that the Upanishads (Vedanta) say that Brahman is One and is everything,
> then it is fairly common today to come across saints who say the same thing
> in different way and they may or may not belong to Adi Shankara's tradition.
> > > So the usage of the words Advaita and Dvaita are dependent on the word
> > > they qualify i.e. Vedanta, for us to get the complete meaning of what is
> > > intended.
> > >
> > > 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
> > > Advaita and Dvaita do not *imply* anything.
> > >
> > Yet if on advaita-l someone mentioned dvaita, it would be instantly
> > understood they were talking about the philosophy of Ananda Tirth not say,
> > twins.
> I want to make a correction -
> "Dvaita Vedanta: Doctrine concluding the teachings of Vedanta conclude a
> duality in Brahman"
> should actually be "Dvaita Vedanta: Doctrine concluding the teachings of
> Vedanta conclude a difference between Brahman and Jiva and hold them to be
> eternally separate."
> That is why I said that you are judging the usage being a student of Advaita
> Vedanta yourself. When I used it on Advaita-l, I used it as I understood the
> teachings I have come across to mean. I did not know Advaita was an
> adjective but now that I know, I can also say that even though Advaita is
> generally a qualification of Adi Shankara's school of Vedanta, it can also
> qualify, in another setting perhaps, reference to, say, Sri Ramakrishna's
> teachings about Brahman.
> > > But here is where I added my own observation, which you are free to
> > > 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
> > > word property for Brahman when we know He has no such thing, so it is
> > > as an example only and not in the strictest sense).
> > >
> > > But, Advaita used alone implies Brahman, in my opinion, because the
> > > indicated by this word, i.e. advayatva (the property of being non-dual)
> > > exists only in Brahman.
> > >
> > You answered this one yourself. Strictly speaking Brahman has no
> > properties. So when we ascribe them it is on a slightly lower level of
> > reality. Now at this level we *can* assume duality. In fact we must or we
> > cannot assign properties. It is at this level we employ advaita and that
> > is why it has the roundabout name of not-two. Even the Buddhist scholar
> > you sent the link about wondered why it isn't called something more
> > straightforward like ekavastuvada. Not-two only makes sense when there is
> > two. So advaitam (not advaita) is never used alone but only in a context
> > where duality can be negated. Each of the mahavakyas occur after the
> > shishya has been led through an exhaustive investigation of what is not
> > real first.
> Ok. I should not use Advaita alone because it is an adjective and it might
> be confusing to say what I mean when I use it. But then neither should you
> (use it to imply Advaita Vedanta). So to say that "this is not Advaita"
> would not make any sense as saying "this is not Advaita Vedanta of Shri
> Shankara" would. The teachings of saints that you disagree with (Sri
> Ramakrishna) can be qualified with "Advaita" but they may not exactly be
> what Shri Shankara taught. [Note: I am presuming that the teachings of Sri
> Ramakrishna and Shri Shankara differ only due to the discussions on the list
> and not because I have made any in-depth study of both].
> > > Here is where one has to bear in mind the ground reality in India.
> > It is a ground reality in Manipur that some of the adivasis are "Jewish"
> > It doesn't mean a thing.
> > > 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.
> > To say it is the same or maybe more is equally sheer ignorance. The fact
> > is you don't know one way or another. so the next best thing is to
> > compare with a known jivanmukta and see if the person comes up to that
> > standard or not. Given that Shankaracharya has given the most complete
> > and doubt-free description of the goal, he is more useful as a guide than
> > anyone else.
> ...to one who has exhaustively studied and compared anyone and everyone who
> has talked of the Aikyata of Brahman and It being everything. Given that one
> is spared this immense effort by simply referring to a tradition that has
> done so over a period of time, it would be helpful to know if the formal
> tradition of Adi Shankaracharya considers it it's view that what, for
> example, Sri Ramakrishna taught was not advaitam or for that matter the
> disagreements with Adi Shankara that Sri Swami Krishnananda of the Divine
> Life Society has talked about have been discussed and clarified.
> > > These mahatmas do not write any books
> > > or expound philosophies to be taught in a fixed disciplic tradition.
> > But if they are using words like jivanamukta, it's a dead giveaway that
> > they have been exposed to Shankaran tradition because jivanamukta is not
> > an everyday word but a technical jargon of Advaita Vedanta.
> Even if they use jivanmukti (which I have not come across so far except
> maybe in Sri Swami Krishnananda's writings), do they have to formally relate
> to the school of Adi Shankara? If jivanmukti *means* liberated while living,
> does it matter where it came from? It is not that the concept of
> it(jivanmukti) was known post-Gaudapada or post-Adi Shankara.
> > > they have their ways and this is how it has always been in India.
> > No it hasn't. It can be easily demonstrated that the need to identify the
> > teachings of saints with Advaita Vedanta is a fairly recent phenomenon.
> And might I add that no such need exists, at least in my opinion. Only
> references that need be made are in terms of affirmation of statements like
> "I am Brahman" and "You are that" and what they truly mean.
> > For instance Shirdi Sai Baba never used Advaita terminology. In fact the
> > presentation ofis ideas owes a lot to Islam. Satya Sai Baba didn't used
> > to talk much about such things. My mother who first met him in the 1960's
> > before he was that famous doesn't consider his Ideas to be similar to
> > Advaita Vedanta at all. But now some people are claiming him as an
> > Advaita teacher.
> Teacher of Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara or the teacher of the knowledge
> that Brahman is One and is everything? Loose words, but correct all the same
> in their own context. However, if someone makes the claim that Satya Sai
> Baba teaches Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara, then his/her claim needs to be
> thoroughly dissected to validate it, at least by those who follow Adi
> > A plausible explanation of this is sociological. The kind of people who
> > followed sants and Babajis were mainly rural and ignorant. Now that they
> > are moving up in the world, they suddenly feel their beliefs are not
> > 'respectable" enough.
> I would doubt you would come across anyone who feels ashamed to say that the
> Baba they follow is not good enough and that somehow, a connection has to be
> made to something more "respectable". Such a person is insulting the Baba
> and his own faith in him.
> >As Advaita Vedanta has tremendous prestige,
> Historically, this question did not exist. Only when some Westerners studied
> Sanskrit and then read our religious texts and Shankara's commentaries did
> they shout about Advaita Vedanta from the rooftops. A good catalyst of this
> was Sri Swami Vivekananda who introduced the West to Advaita Vedanta of Adi
> Shankara. [Although it is said that philosophers like Kant were familiar
> with the Upanishads].
> >a good
> > way to upgrade yourself image is to identify with it.
> The person feeling this way needs to learn a lot of things. Following Babas
> sincerely means going past the banana peel. It is a sad sad thing if you
> know people who think like this. Chances are you will not but if you do,
> maybe you can tell them to be sincere to their Baba instead of trying to win
> them over.
> > This is the same
> > process that the Bengali intelligensia went through in regard to Western
> > culture in the 19th century. And both groups, like the Jewish adivasis of
> > Manipur not only believe they are in the prestigious group but refuse to
> > believe they were anything other than in that group.
> There is a difference between saying "We are followers of ABC who says the
> same thing as Adi Shankara so we are followers of the Shankarite tradition"
> and saying "We are followers of ABC who says that God is One and that there
> is nothing apart from him that exists (the concept of Advaitam)".
> > This is why if we view ourselves as followers of truth and enemies of
> > delusion, we shouldn't let "my guru said" be the end of discussion but the
> > beginning of it.
> More often than not, the "my Guru said" is either misquoted, mis-stated or
> misinterpreted. However, without first understanding what the Guru said, a
> discussion is not even possible.
> > And we should use all the means at our disposal,
> > shastras, logic, science history etc. to be as rigorous and exact as
> > possible.
> > > 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
> > > philosophy but they have firm belief in these saints.
> > I never said the saints aren't raising people up. They just aren't raising
> > them all the way.
> That is where I completely disagree. The "all the way" is very very
> subjective and differs for each individual. It is not possible to make Mango
> lassi out of an unripe mango meant for mango pickle. For such a mango, only
> being suitable for picklehood is taught. The link between the preceptor and
> the disciple, once established and formalized, goes on till the disciple
> needs no more instruction. Considering this, it does not matter if a saint
> asks someone to never touch the Bhagvat Gita but always work in a communal
> kitchen all his/her life.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/
>From Thu Sep 26 09:15:01 2002
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 09:15:01 -0700
Reply-To: venky at oreka.com
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
<ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG>
From: "Venkatesh ." <venky at OREKA.COM>
Subject: Weekly page from Hindu Dharma: Science of Reasoning
This week's page from Hindu Dharma (see note at bottom) is "Science of Reasoning" from "Nyaya". The original page can be found at http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part13/chap1.htm.
Next week, you will be emailed "Padarthas" (from "Nyaya")
(this email is being sent on an automated basis)
Science of Reasoning
from Nyaya, Hindu Dharma
Nyaya is also called Tarka-sastra and its author is Gautama. Its main purpose is to establish by reasoning that the Karta or Creator of all this world is Parameswara. Indeed, it seeks to prove the existence of Isvara through inference. Reasoning thus has a major place in Nyaya.
Logic or reasoning is of course indispensable to any study. The Vedas make a statement and Mimamsa determines its meaning. Though we have faith in the Vedas, doubts arise in our minds regarding the meaning of scriptural passages. If these doubts are cleared through reasoning the message of the Vedas will be affirmed. When we construct the marriage pandal we test the strength of the bamboo or timber posts by trying to shake them. In the same way we must subject truths to proper tests so as to confirm them. All logical reasoning must be accepted but it must be firmly rooted in authority. Also, arguments must not be of a carping character, stemming from the urge to be merely contrary.
When Sankara was about to depart from this world his disciples requested him for a brief upadesa. It was then that he imparted his succinct teaching in the form of five stanzas which go by the name of Upadesa-Pancaka or Sopana-Pancaka. "Dustarkat suviramyatam - Srutimatastarko'nusandhiyatam", is a line from it. It means that you must give up the habit captious arguments and that in dealing with a question you must employ proper reasoning, duly respecting the views of the Vedas.
Without reason to guide us it is like roaming aimlesssly in the forest. But reason must be founded on authority. Nyaya finds the meaning of Vedic passages in this manner.
Kanada too created a Nyaya sastra: it is called Vaisesika. One object is distinguished from another on the basis of the special characteristics or "particularities" of the two. The name "Vaisesika" is derived from the fact that it inquires into such particularities. There is a good deal of science in this Nyaya sastra. Atmic matters like the individual self, the cosmos, Isvara, moksa or liberation are examined (in Vaisesika "moksa" is known by the name of "apavarga").
The Nyaya inquiry into truth is through the four pramanas or instruments of knowledge of "pratyaksa", "anumana", "upamana" and "sabda". Pratyaksa is direct perception, what is perceived by the eyes and the ears and so on. It is anumana or inference that is central to Nyaya. What is anumana? We see smoke rising from the summit of a distant mountain: we notice only the smoke, not the fire, which is concealed by the rock perhaps. But even if we do not see the fire we may infer that the forest has caught fire. This is anumana. Here the fire is called "sadhya" and the means by which we infer its presence is "sadhana", "linga" or "hetu".
In our Vedantic system we must reflect upon the teaching imparted by our guru. This is manana and it means going over an idea (in this case the instruction received from the teacher) again and again in the mind, making use of our own ability to reason. Here anumana is of help. Is it not through inference that we are able to know things that cannot otherwise be perceived? The individual self and the Paramatman are not directly perceived by our senses. Nor do we know the liberation of senses. Nor do we know the nature of liberation or how to attain it. We have to know such things by inference. Knowing an object on the basis of another known object is anumana. When we hear the roar of the thunder we know, by inference, that there are clouds [that the sky is overcast]
By performing Vedic works [let us take it] we have become pure within. We have also found a good teacher and we have faith in his instruction. But, if we happen to hear something different from what he tell us, doubts naturally arise in our minds. These doubts have to be cleared; they must be discussed and a decision arrived at. Here we must have recourse to a pramana (source or instrument of knowledge) like anumana or inference. Both Nyaya and Vaisesika conduct inquiries based on anumana.
Hindu Dharma is a translation of two volumes of the well known Tamil Book "Deivatthin Kural", which, in turn, is a book of 6 volumes that contains talks of His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji of Kanchipuram. The entire book is available online at http://www.kamakoti.org/ .
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