An Interesting article - any response?

Shrisha Rao shrao at NYX.NET
Wed Dec 4 21:37:52 CST 1996


While I have been on the Advaita list virtually since its inception
this past summer (a fact known to its owner and several others on it),
I have never thought fit to speak up on it, lest the people on that
list feel that I was polluting their sanctuary with my heresy.  To be
honest, on more than one occasion I was sorely tempted to respond to
something said on that list, but held back each time.  Manish Tandon
pointed out to me that while it would be all right to have a debate
with Advaita on common, neutral forums like the Hindu/Vaishnava
newsgroups, it would not be as proper to do so on a list specifically
dedicated to Advaita itself.  I could see his reasoning, even though
I did not completely agree with it myself, and more to the point, I
was fairly sure others would feel as he did, so I heeded his advice
not to create a cat-among-the-pigeons situation on the Advaita list.

It was a good exercise in self-control, I must admit, and I did at
times actually enjoy seeing Advaitin discussion happen in a free
atmosphere, free of any tremor of outside criticism, and would have
let the same continue indefinitely.  Yet, Sri Sadananda and Sri
Turumella have seen fit to bring about a vigorous cross-fertilization
between the Dvaita and the Advaita lists, and with criticisms of
postings made on the former being made on the latter and posted back,
and with messages getting posted back and forth freely, I feel the
status quo has been violated, and the restraint Manish imposed does
not apply in the present situation.  Thus, with my apologies to him
and to anyone else who may be offended, here is my response: I will
post future responses in this thread to both lists, since it has been
discussed on both.  People on the Advaita list are more than welcome
to post to the Dvaita list as well, but to do so will require their
subscriptions to the same.

> > 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.
> >
> > Hari Om!
> > Sadananda

Just a note: neither Guruprasad nor I really qualify as "experts," I
think.  Nor was the article posted as a challenge.  In fact, this
whole thread started with an innocuous query on my part which had
nothing to do with Advaita at all -- the "challenge," if there was
one, came from Sri Turumella, who came up with a vigorous espousal of
Advaita in a followup although that was essentially off-topic.  If you
wish, please look up the "Dreams and reality" thread in the November
segment of the list archive ( ).
Thus, we, who are not experts, were challenged, rather than we
challenging others.

Anand Hudli wrote:

> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > 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.
>    First misconception. Jeeva-brahma-aikya is not something that is
>    established by logic alone. It has basis in Shruti. Many Shruti
>     statements affirm it. Further, whenever there is a conflict between
>    logic and what the shruti says, the latter prevails.

Very good.  However, as I see it, Guruprasad did not say that such
aikya is established by logic *alone*.  Not to put too fine a point on
it, he did not mention logic at all.  To say that something can be
established by logic alone is contrary to Tattvavaada, in fact, since
free logic is considered a "vyabhichAri," or lacking in fidelity.  And
given that a Brahman is not known from logic at all, it is rather
obvious that jiiva-Brahma-aikya cannot be proved by logic alone.

As such, the "misconception" you are correcting has itself been

> >   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
> > 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.
> >    The above (advaitic) stand-point suffers from serious logical
> > flaws which cannot be remedied inspite of all their mental
> > acrobatics. Let us examine their arguments in their own setting
> > and see for ourselves the inherent flaws.
>    Really?

Well, that remains to be determined, let's say.

> >    What is the nature of Brahman in Advaita? Brahman is
> > attributeless (nirguna), configurationless(nirakara), indivisible
> > (akhanda), etc. In short their is nothing like a variety in advaitic
> > Brahman.
> >    Let us give names to the various states in the advaitic framework
> > 1.The Dream-state: This is state of dreams which we experience
> > when we sleep ("Svapnaavastha")
> > 2. The waking state: The state of the world we experience when we are
> > awake, i.e. the world we see around ; the birds, the trees etc.
> > 3. Absolute state: the state of the Advaitic Brahman, i.e. the state
> >  of the frozen consciousness of the Advaitic Brahman.
> >     Dream state is unreal visavis the Waking state and the latter
> > unreal visavis the Absolute state-this is the thesis of Advaita.
> >    Let us analyse the dream-state. We see several objects in our
> > dreams. Granting for a minute they are all unreal, what causes them?
> > In the waking state we see several objects and the impressions are
> > formed in the mind  and they reappear in the dreams perhaps jumbled
> > up arbitrarily. In other words the variety that is there in the
> > waking state accounts for the variety in the dream. Let us even grant
> > that the waking - state is unreal visavis the absolute -state of
> > advaita. What accounts for the variety seen in the waking state?
> > Even accepting the alleged unreality of dream-objects, we can account
> > for its variety invoking the variety seen in the waking-state.
> > However we cannot invoke anything to explain away the variety in the
> > waking state, because their is no variety in the absolute state of
> > the advaitic brahman which is "akhanda", "nirguna",etc. Even if the
> > advaitic stand-point of unreality of this world is accepted, the
> > variety in the waking-state cannot be explained in their own
> > frame-work. Thus using the method of "reductio-ad-absurdum" ,we
> > see that the entire edifice on which advaita is built crumbles.
>    There are serious logical flaws in *this* argument. First, it assumes
>    that the relationship between the "absolute" state and the waking
>    state is exactly like the relationship between the waking state
>    and the dream state. How do we know this? In other words,
>     variety in dream state  implies   variety in waking state
>      does not necessarily imply
>     variety in waking state  implies variety in absolute state

See, the thing is, he's talking of *causation*, not *implication*,
viz., that

     variety in the waking state causes variety in the dream state,

     and that

     non-variety in the absolute state cannot cause variety in the
     waking state (which has to be caused by something).

Causation and implication are very different beasts, I'm sure you'll

The ancient Greeks, who weren't even Vedantins, knew this very well.
Their example is as follows: consider a pole that is casting a shadow
on a sunny day.  Given the length of the shadow, and the length of the
pole, one can figure out the angle of the sun from a fairly simple
trigonometric calculation.

However, it is manifestly improper to say that the length of the shadow
and the length of the pole *cause* the position of the sun.  That is

While one can have an implication relationship between any two of the
three variables (length of pole, length of shadow, angle of sun) and
the third, the causal relationship is not similarly malleable.  Thus,
any attempt to reason about causal relationships in terms of
implicational relationships is fallacious.  It is for this reason that
the study of causality, of causes and effects, etc., is different from
straightforward sentential logic.  I'm amazed you don't know this.

Your criticism is thus based on a false presumption that causality is
the same as implication, and is thus subject to improvement.  If you
can come up with a different/better one, I'd love to see it.

>     There would be such an implication if the absolute state were
>     similar to the two other states in some sense. But this is impossible
>    according to the scriptures. The absolute is not only advaita (devoid
>    of duality) but also advaya (one without a second) and nirupama
>    (incomparable to anything).
>    So the absolute state cannot be compared to any state or for that matter
>    anything at all.  The statement :
>    The absolute state must be similar to the waking state
>    and even the statement:
>    the relationship between the absolute and waking state is similar
>    to the relationship between the waking and dream state
>    are both not logically provable.

The above has already been attended to, but let's go on to your piece
de resistance:

>    Now, even if we allow that these are provable, there is another
>    logical flaw in the dvaitin's argument.
>    This flaw is the familiar infinite regress.

Familiar to whom, I wonder?

>    Suppose the absolute state were to have variety or duality. Then
>    its duality would be the result of the duality existing in a
>    higher absolute state. The duality in this higher absolute state
>    would be inferred from the duality in a yet higher state. The
>    duality in this third absolute state would be inferred from the
>    duality in state higher than it and so on. This leads to infinite
>    regress. And it would be impossible to speak of the highest state
>    "VishhNoH paramaM padaM" which we often hear from the Vedas.
>     So the highest state must necessarily be not only advaita but also
>     advaya (one without a second) and nirupama (incomparable to anything).

Ah.  Of course, one can always revert to your own argument that where
logic runs contrary to Shruti, the latter wins; and Shruti does say
things like `saha brahmaNA vipashchitA', or `dvA suparNA sayujA
sakhAyA', etc., which speak of duality in the highest state.

But of course, there is no need to do that.  For the logic can be
dismissed in and of itself.  For there is no acceptance by the
Tattvavaada school that duality needs a cause.  It simply *is*.  It
has no more a cause than Brahman does.  Only those things that arise,
are created, etc., need causes, while duality is accepted to have
existed for all time in the past.  As such, speculation about its
causes is mere moonshine.

And in fact, since it is your assertion (I think?) that the duality of
the waking state is not caused by the duality of the absolute state,
for the excellent reason of the latter being absent, what is its cause
then?  Since it arises and subsides, it needs must have a cause.  If
it were spontaneous, without a cause, then it would be like Brahman,
and would not subside at all, and you'd be left with eternal duality.
Thus, given that duality in the waking is a fact, whether one likes it
or not, a cause must be given for it, else it would have to be that
the duality is eternal, a conclusion you do not accept.

Therefore, since you yourself have shown that the postulation that
duality at a certain state is caused by that in a higher state leads
to infinite regress, it would follow that the duality of the waking
state is not caused by something else, but is in and of itself an
ultimate, unsubsiding truth.

> > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Conclusion: the world is real. Jeeva can never be the same as
> > Brahman.
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>   Maybe according to PuraaNas and other fairy tales. But I seriously doubt
>   if the Vedas say so.

Try the Rg Veda, X.71-6:

   yastityAja sachividaM sakhAyaM na tasya vAchyapi bhAgo.asti  |
   yadIM shR^iNotyalakaM na hi praveda sukR^itasya panthAm.h  ||

   One who gives up his True Companion, there is no truth even in his
   speech; whatever he hears, he hears amiss; he cannot be said to be on
   the path of virtuous action.

It is significant that the same word `sakha' used elsewhere in the Rg Veda
in the context of `dvA suparNA', is used here as well.  Now, if the "sakha"
were an incomplete truth, an illusion, etc., why would the Veda say what
it does?  Beats me...


Shrisha Rao

> > K.Guruprasad
> > Department of Mathematics
> > Indian Institute of Science
> > Bangalore-560 012
>  Anand

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