[Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 1, Issue 29

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Jun 1 16:08:50 CDT 2003

On Sat, 31 May 2003, Jay Nelamangala wrote:

> In the geetha,  the word Brahma is also used for mahAlakshmI.
> "mama yOnir mahad brahma tasmin garbham dadAmyaham".
> SriKrishna has called MahAlakshmI or chit-prakrti as "mahad brahma"
> in the 14th chapter.

Actually what is being called the womb is mahadbrahma.  Many translations
unhelpfully give this as "the large Brahman" or "the great Brahman" which
apart from not making much sense, is completely off the mark.

Shankaracharya says mahatvAdbharaNAccha svavikArANAM mahadbrahma iti yoniH
eva vishiShyate

Mahat in Samkhya philosophy is the manifest form of Prakriti which evolves
(devolves?) into the three gunas.  This shloka echoes the ancient theory
of creation as the sexual union of the divine male and female principles.

I don't see where Mahalakshmi is mentioned here.

> A brahma-jnAnee  understands  the "aparichinnatva" or "boundless"
> nature of brahma-swaroopa. For this reason,  he very well understands
> that whatever he knows about Brahman, due to the Infinite nature of
> Brahman, is only partial.

I don't see why.  I can say I know "seven" without necessarily knowing
seven seas, seven sages, seven continents etc...

In other words one can know an abstract concept without knowing each of
its concrete applications.

> If we say,  a certain Brahma-jnAnee has "grasped" parabrahman completely,
> then that Brahma-jnAnee's knowledge has "contained" Parabrahman.
> A "contained" God is no God.
>   This is why,  upanishats warn us,
> "yasya amatam tasya matam matam yasya na vEda saha"
> (one who thinks he does'nt know knows,  one who think he knows does'nt
> know).

But this refers to the lover knowledge not the higher one.  In fact Shruti
does give positive descriptions of Brahman viz. Om or sacchidananda or
satyam jnanam anantam etc.

> So, if we translate  "Brahmavit brahmaiva bhavati"  literally to mean
> brahmajnAnee becomes Brahman itself,  then we have lost "samanvaya" of
> shAstra.

Where Advaita Vedantins part company with Mimamsakas is that we say after
a certain point shastra _does_ become useless.  So our Acharyas weren't
too worried about this.

> The more you know about God,  the more there is to know -  only such an
> entity can be the Upanishadic Brahma-swaroopa which is "ananta" or
> "aparichinna"

If one defines knowledge as collecting "facts" about God then you are
correct.  Such a task is futile.  But what is being asked is a different
kind of knowledge -- of the true nature of God.

> Once this fundamental is "grasped" properly,  then all of prasthAna-traya
> become consistent.   If this fundamental is not grasped or is ignored,  then
> certain Shruti statements are made to yield to certain interests that one
> may have.   That
> is when one gets contradictory ideas such as some shrutis saying "Jeeva
> becomes
> Brahman"  and some other shrutis saying "Jeeva never becomes Brahman".
> Self contradicting knowledge can not be called knowledge either.
> With this in the background, let us study each of the upanishadic/geeta
> statements,  in the respective upanishadic/geeta context.
> 1) "BrahmavidApnOti param | tadEshAbhyktA |
> satyam jnAnam anantam brahma"  - taittareeya
> Taittareeya upanishat is saying,  parabrahma-jnAnee attains Moksha.
> Attaining Brahman is sometimes expressed as attaining the abode
> of Brahman.  "ApnOti param" in the upanishats
> or  "tad dhAma paramam mama" in the Geetha.   That is because,
> any attribute of Brahman is also Brahman,  so His abode is not
> considered different from Him in shAstra.  It is only a matter of
> expression.

Perhaps that is plausible for param but for satyam jnanam anantam?  These
are not 'abodes' of Brahman or attributes but its very nature.

> 2)
> "parAt param purusham upaiti divyam | sa yO ha vai tat paramam brahma
> vEda brahmaiva bhavati |  - mundaka
> Brahma is one who is "Brumhita"
> Veda defines Parabrahman as
> "atha kasmAt uchyatE brahmEti? " ( why is it called Brahman? )
> "brihantO hi asmin guNaaha" - It is called Brahman
> because All attributes are Complete in It.)
> Keeping this in mind,  let us understand "brahma vEda brahmaiva bhavati"
> Let us study the context here.   The previous sentence says
> "parAt param purusham upaiti divyam"
> (Brahma-jnAnee attains Parabrahman, the Highest)
> "brahmaiva bhavati" should also be consistent with the
> previous sentence of attaining Brahman.
> So, like Brahman  this Brahma-jnAnee also becomes Bruhanta or
> reaches his completeness which is same as attaining Brahman
> But is this completeness same as Parabrahman's compleness?
> Shrutis, sootras, and Geeta  in union say - NO.

You say he reaches 'his' completeness?  But if his completeness is not the
same as Brahman then how can it be advaita?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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