An Interesting article - any response?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Wed Dec 4 16:04:51 CST 1996

On Wed, 4 Dec 1996, sadananda wrote:

> Madhava Kumar Turumella has send me a copy of the on going discussion on
> dvaita list between him and Sri Shrisha Rao and others on Maya.  I found
> the article by Sri Guruprasad below interesting. Any response to the
> challenge from the experts.

I would have expected somebody in a Mathematics department to be able to
appreciate subtle points in philosophy, but I was sorely disappointed with
Sri Guruprasad's analysis. Anand has already pointed out flaws in his
article. Let me stick to pointing out some of the positive statements that
advaita vedAnta actually makes.

> Hari Om!
> Sadananda
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Copy of the article as I received in mail from Sri Madhava Kumar Turumella.
> Dear Devotees,
>    The proponents of "Jeeva-Brahma-Aikya" (identity of Jeeva and
> Brahman) invoke the example of dreams to prove their hypothesis.
> However their proof is all wrong as we shall see.
>   At the outset let me put forth their views in a nut shell:
>   The dreams objects seen in the dream are unreal. On waking up they
> vanish. Similarly visavis the absolute state of Brahman we are in a
> dream state. The world around us , our sorrow, joys etc are all

On the one hand, these dvaitins find fault with Gaduapada for equating the
waking state with the dream state, i.e. dream objects are as real as or
as illusory as objects in the waking state. On the other hand, they
attribute to advaita, a false notion that dream objects are unreal.

Nobody within advaita says that the dream objects are unreal. They seem to
be real as long as the dream persists. For the dreamer, they are real
enough. What is pointed out in advaita is that the dream objects have no
reality *independent of the dreamer*. Your dream objects have no meaning
for me, they are forever inaccessible to me. I cannot even claim to know
them, much less talk about their reality or otherwise. The analogy of
dreams is given just to point out the meaning of the Sruti statements that
the universe has no reality *independent of brahman*. However, everybody
perceives the universe to be independent of any higher reality. This is
the essential paradox, which advaita vedAnta seeks to describe as avidyA
or ignorance about the true nature of reality.

> unreal and will vanish once we wake up to the state of being one with
> Brahman. Avidya is responsible for lack of realisation of Jeeva's
> identity with Brahman.

Here, it might be well to point out the advaitic conception of the
validity of cognition. Any cognition is held to be "svata: pramANa,
parata: apramANa." i.e. a cognition is valid by itself, it is only
invalidated by another cognition, which in turn is self-valid, and so on.
This is nothing more than a statement of what all human beings take for
granted all through their life. However, a little reflection on this will
reveal that there is really no basis for attributing a higher reality to
the waking state than to the dream state. As long as one dreams, the dream
objects are real. Their reality is doubted only upon waking up. But then,
this doubt about the reality of the dream arises from an assumption that
the waking state is more real than the dream state. True, the objects of
the waking state might be accessible to all perceivers, whereas the
objects of the dream state are accessible only to one perceiver, the
dreamer. But this is hardly the real point of adviata vedAnta. Instead of
assuming that there are in reality multiple perceivers, advaita asks you
to analyze the ultimate reality of the perceiver himself.

The blind logic of the dvaitin might claim that the assumption that the
waking state is really real cannot be doubted. However, it is only by
questioning the validity of one's assumptions that any real understanding
develops. Unlike the dvaitin who twists Sruti to conform to his assumption
that the waking state is ultimately real, advaita vedAnta holds to the
tenet that where ordinary perception seems to be opposed to the knowledge
of the Atman gained from Sruti, the latter is true. Sruti asserts that
there is a higher reality than that of the waking state. In this higher
state, the Atman is "na anta: pragna:, na bahishpragna:". The logic of the
waking state vanishes here. However, I hardly expect any dvaitin to really
understand the meaning of the mANDUkya upanishad.

S. Vidyasankar

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