[Advaita-l] Interpreting "abhEda" shruti vAkyas

Jay Nelamangala jay at r-c-i.com
Tue Jun 10 20:50:57 CDT 2003

Bhakar prabhujI,  namaste.

>I am wondering does it make
>any sense,  if I ask you shruti pramANa rather prasthana trayi quotes for
>senators, bears, lions etc.etc. that you referred in your examples.    You
>have simply quoted various analogies from your day-to-day *experience*
>which are feasible enough to substante your claims.

I gave those examples to show how abhEda language constructs operate
in any langauge  and how they beg for an understanding of the context in
which they show up. This "need for context" applies to any language
such as  spanish,  hindi, tamil, english or our own good-old Vedic sanskrit.
Since english is the language of the internet,  I chose english just for
convenience.   Hence  bears, senators and lions.

If you know tamil or hindi,  make up some "abhEda vAkyas" such as
"He is a bear"  in your language,  and then read my email article,
then you will see that what I wrote holds equally well to that language 
construct as well.

Sri VidyAshankar asked me a question on what this "context" is,
and also he said  no context is needed for the statement "I am I".

Ofcourse, "I am I" ,  "He is He",  "sky is sky"  all such identity
statetments talk about identity of a thing with itself.  It is a 
degenerated case of identity.   No new knowledge is generated
by such statements.  

When I say "in its context",  it means how  this "abhEda phrase"
 is part of a larger sentence, and how that larger sentence is part
of what is being discussed.   What is being discussed becomes
known only if you look at couple of sentences prior to  this larger 
sentence in the paragraph  which has the abhEda phrase  in it. 
While deriving the  meaning of the "abhEda phrase" we MUST take 
into consideration all of these.  That is exactly what I mean by "context".

Let us take the phrase "aham brahmAsmi"  for example.  We all know
that this is one of the mahAvAkyas,  which is said to provide shruti-pramANa
for jeeva-brahma-abhEda-vAda of advaita.

It is part of a larger sentence in BrihadAraNyaka,
"tadAtmAnamEva avEt aham brahmAsmIti",  and to get the context we 
also need to look at previous sentence which also happens to be
the beginning of that paragraph.   So the whole thing goes like this: 

"brahma vA idamagra Aseet tadAtmAnamEva avEt aham brahmMsmIti"
The ever-present Brahman, before creation, thought to Itself as
"aham brahmAsmi".

So,  if anyone says that upanishats talk of the identity of jeeva and Brahman,
and quote "aham brahmAsmi" then it simply means 
that  this context has been thrown out of the window while saying so.

In the context of that upanishat,  "aham brahmAsmi" is what Brahman 
thought to Himself before Creation.   It is part of a sentence.  It does not
talk about jeeva at all !!  It does not talk about any identity of jeeva and Brahman.
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