[Advaita-l] A study of a chapter of the book `BhAmatI-samAlochanam'.

Venkata Subramanian venkat_advaita at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 22 01:58:39 CDT 2010

I need some time to get back to you Vidya Shankar.

Thanks & Regards,

Sadgurubhyo Namah.

--- On Thu, 22/4/10, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] A study of a chapter of the book `BhAmatI-samAlochanam'.
To: "Advaita List" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Thursday, 22 April, 2010, 2:41 AM

> Well I dont think the Holenarsipuram Swamigal presents that there is no Jivan Mukta.
> To a Jnani, once the paramartha is realised he understands His true nature that is ever present and ever the same (if the word ever has any sense here); and that Jnani, while his body continues in the world is perceived by others in vyavahara as "living".  Both these are present in the same person, and this is what is "Jivan Mukti"; He is a mukta and at the same time Jivathi api.  This does not imply any "avidya lesha" in him.....The point of difference discussed here is whether Avidya lesha is a concommitant in a Jivan Mukta; not that there is no Jivan Mukta concept in the commentaries as understood by the Holenarsipur tradition.
> What the revered Commentator points out as his experience while the body continues; we find very similar expressions in Ramana maharishi as well; In fact Ramana's words are clearer.

Dear Venkat,

Let us step back once more and examine what the core contentious
issues are.

If I understand correctly those who quote the Holenarsipur Swamigal
(Bhaskar/Savithri, please feel free to clarify whether this is so), the
role of prArabdha karma is denied completely or at the least devalued
significantly. The argument is that jnAna and karma being like tamas
and prakASa, both are not logically capable of being present at the
same time in the person of the jnAnI. prArabdha karma too, being an
effect of avidyA, has no good standing, because jnAna has burnt up
avidyA. The jnAnI IS brahman, vide brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati,
brahmaiva sann brahmApyeti, etc. A body, mind and actions are
superimposed upon the jnAnI only by others who are still subject to

The emphasis, as I read it, is entirely different for the bhAshyakAra.
The vAkya is "kathaM hy ekasya sva-hRdaya-pratyayaM brahma-
vedanaM dehadhAraNaM ca apareNa pratiksheptuM Sakyeta". This
presumes that there is an other (apara) for the jnAnI who can doubt,
and points out that while the functioning body of the jnAnI is there
for this other person to perceive, that is not sufficient reason for him
to deny/doubt the sva-hRdaya-pratyaya of brahma-vedana that is
unique to the jnAnI. 

The revered bhAshyakAra is talking of a vedana/pratyaya here in the
jnAnI's hRdaya while in the state of deha-dhAraNa. He does NOT bring
a paramArtha vs. vyavahAra distinction to bear upon the identity of
the jnAnI. For example, he does NOT say that the jnAnI is nothing but
paramArtha. He does NOT go on to say that his hRdaya is only super-
imposed (adhyasta) on the jnAnI by others. (As an aside, he does NOT
say that the hRdaya is the Self.) He does NOT say that the vedana/
pratyaya in the hRdaya is also merely a matter of speech. And he does
NOT say that this deha-dhAraNa (seen by others as living) is only due
to the perception of those in vyavahAra. If ever he needed a chance
to have said all this, brahmasUtra 4.1.15 would have been it.

Rather, what he does say is this, "it is not a matter of debate whether
the knower of brahman bears the body for some time or not (api ca na
eva atra vivaditavyaM brahmavidA kaMcit-kAlaM SarIraM dhriyate na
vA dhriyata iti)". He does NOT seek to downplay the importance of
prArabdha karma. Instead, he says that even jnAnotpatti happens only
when the prArabdha karma is ripe for it. And having granted that, he
then says that there is nothing to stop the momentum of this already
fructifying karma and that it continues, like the spinning potter's wheel
(ucyate- na tAvad anASritya Arabdha-kAryaM karmASayaM jnAnotpattir
upapadyate. Asrite ca tasmin kulAla-cakra-vat pravRtta-vegasya
antarAle pratibandha asaMbhavAd bhavati vega-kshaya-pratipAlanam).
If at all we can say anything about paramArtha and vyavahAra here, it
is that those in vyavahAra cannot doubt paramArtha. Rather, it is only
because of the jnAnI's remaining involvement with vyavahAra that
ajnAnI-s can even have a guru who can teach them about jnAna and
parmArtha. That is why the bhAshyakAra goes on to refer to the
sthitaprajna in this context.

These quotes indicate that the bhAshyakAra gives a much more postive
role and force for Arabdha kArya with respect to the jnAnI and his/her
conviction about his or her own realization, than what some have said
here in recent times, do they not? (vide, a jnAnI has been cut asunder
from the Body-Mind-Intellect ... There is no branding of enlightened as
such - he doesn't even know he is realized, or behave any differently,
etc) At least to me and to many others, they do. This does not mean
that we give up on the statements, brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati and
brahmaiva sann brahmApyeti, any more than Sankara bhagavatpAda
himself does. As I see it, we accept both the full force of brahmaiva
sann brahmApyeti and also the residual force of prArabdha karma in
precisely the same way as our revered bhAshyakAra himself does, but
our interlocutors in this debate do have a problem with accepting both.
That is why there is a doubt from one quarter about whether one has
to specially understand the bhAshya passage on yAvad adhikAra, for
the 'as is' wording of this passage seems to indicate something else.

I cannot speak for others, but to me, Sankara bhagavatpAda is very
consistent in all his bhAshya-s, so I do not like to quote only one
bhAshya and leave out the others. It is because he gives a much more
positive role to prArabdha that elsewhere he goes on to talk about
Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati and tyAga-vairAgyAdi-sAdhana-bala to
bolster the jnAna-pravRtti-daurbalya and to counter the stronger force
(karmaNo balIyastva) of the bhAvinI-pravRtti of vAk, manas and kAya,
AFTER samyag-jnAna-prApti (bRhadAraNyaka bhAshya 1.4.7). All of this
advice from the bhAshyakAra is for the person in whom samyag-jnAna
has already arisen, not for those deep in vyavahAra. If samyag-jnAna-
prApti or the realization of paramArtha is an either/or situation for all
jnAnI-s, the revered bhAshyakAra should have provided no room for
this talk AT ALL. Moreover, it seems to me that all of this is entirely
consistent only with those who take the jnAnI's embodiment as an
issue worth philosophizing about. It is not consistent with those who
dismiss it as a superimposition done by others who are in ajnAna.

Coming back to sUtrabhAshya 4.1.15, Sri Subrahmanian has made a
very persuasive case in this discussion that what the bhAshyakAra
describes as saMskAra-vaSa and bAdhita-mithyAjnAna-anuvRtti here
is the same as what later commentators term as avidyA-leSa. At the
very least, even if this equation seems unacceptable to anyone, it
has to be granted that the saMskAra-vaSa and the bAdhita-yet-
anuvartana of mithyAjnAna in the sUtrabhAshya is the basis for later
authors working out the logical implications thereof and talking of
avidyA-leSa. And rather than splitting hairs over whether mithyAjnAna
here is mithyA-jnAna or mithya + ajnAna, this will mean that one has
to address what the word saMskAra means here, what is its locus and
what does it mean for the one with this saMskAra along with the sva-
hRdaya-pratyaya of brahmavedana. It is not for nothing that a teacher
and commentator of the stature of vidyAraNya describes in detail the
utility of yoga-sAdhana even for the jIvanmukta. This is entirely in
synch with what the bhAshyakAra says about tyAga-vairAyAdi-
sAdhana-bala and Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati as pointed out above.

(As another aside, the bhAshyakAra himself also makes an independent
statement in the same passage that this Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati
also leads to citta vRtti nirodha, so to think that vidyAraNya is making
a very drastic innovation here and unnecessarily bringing in yoga is not
correct at all. I discussed this in detail in the series on Yoga and
Advaita a few months ago.)

What does this have to do with the Holenarsipur Swamigal? Well, I
would line up and even compete to be the first to admire and commend
his call to go back to Sankara bhagavatpAda's bhAshya-s. After all, 
different sub-commentators differ from one another in how they explain
one or the other issue from his bhAshya-s. However, I would also like
to point out that in time, the Holenarsipur Swamigal's views will only
be one additional interpretation of Sankara bhagavatpAda's bhAshya-s,
with which a fresh student may agree or disagree. His is not the only
way to understand Sankara bhagavatpAda and his teaching, nor can it
be upheld by reiteration that only he got it correct and everyone else
except sureSvara among his predecessors got it wrong. Therefore, I
would reiterate the call to go back to the bhAshya-s when it comes to
disagreeing with some view put forth by the Holenarsipur Swamigal or
his followers. I would also caution against throwing out the baby with
the bathwater when his followers seem to just repeat his views about
almost all post-Sankaran authors in the tradition, without actually
reading these other authors or without actually reading other pertinent
passages from within the corpus of Sankara bhagavatpAda's bhAshya-s. 



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