essence of advaita (was Re: solipsism and advaita)

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Fri Dec 26 11:21:43 CST 1997

On Mon, 22 Dec 1997, Greg Goode wrote:

> [...]
> But to see that "Brahmah satyam jagan mithya" -- Brahman is the only
> reality, all else being unreal -- this is harder to grasp initially.  This
> was the case for me.  Interestingly enough, I think on this list, we have
> more discussions related to "Jeevo brahmaiva nah parah," than to "Brahmah
> satyam jagan mithya."
> --Greg

I agree. Somehow, we seem to be more concerned with discussion on
"Jeevo brahmaiva nah parah". But I think, the first part "Brahmah
satyam jagan mithya" is intermingled with the second part and the
two parts cannot be taken as distinct.

I have the good fortune of reading "Sankara digvijaya" of Madhava-
VidyaraNya over the Christmas break (a very thoughtful gift by a
good friend). This is english translation by Swami Tapasyananda and
is available from Vedanta Press. In the debate between Shankara and
ManDana Mishra, the identity of Atman and Brahman comes up and I
give below a small excerpt from that debate.


ManDana Mishra: I maintain that Brahman, the spiritual Being, has
  got His own distinctiveness, which cannot be sublated by the jeeva
  knowing Brahman. You admit that the distinctiveness of a pot is in
  no way affected when you know it.

Shankara:  What is your contention - is it that even when self-knowledge
  dawns on all the jeevas, Brahman will still continue to have His
  distinctiveness ? Or is it that the self-knowledge of one jeeva alone,
  will still leave Brahman in His distinctiveness ? If it is the latter,
  there is nothing at issue except that the fact is not as simple as that.
  For when the jeeva realizes itself as Brahman, all differences in their
  totality vanish, and in that vanished totality of distinctions is
  included all the distinctions of individual jeevas and of inert objects
  like the pot. When Brahman is the sole existence, there is nothing left
  to show off this distinctiveness. O learned one ! What have you in mind
  when you speak of the knowledge of the spiritual Being - have you in
  mind God, the Deity, who has attributes like omniscience, omnipotence,
  immortality, etc or, Nirguna Brahman, which is pure, attributeless,
  absolute Consciousness ? If it is the former, I am in agreement with
  you in maintaining that difference exists between God and the world
  of limited beings. If your reference is to the latter, the
  attributeless Absolute, difficulty arises alike in speaking of
  knowing Him and not knowing Him. If you say you know Him, it
  contradicts the Vedas which declare the Absolute to be beyond all
  means of knowledge. If, on the other hand, you say that He cannot be
  known, then all attributes and all distinctions lose their basis and
  must come to naught.


I think this excerpt is relevant to this topic as well as another
topic being discussed concurrently. There are other very revealing
pieces in the book.

Gummuluru Murthy
... aham bhAvodayAbhAvo bodhasya paramAvadhih ...
                        Shri Shankara in Viveka ChuDAmaNi (verse 424)

The end of the rise of the sense of "I" of the ego is the culmination
of knowledge.

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