message to my friends

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Tue Aug 11 11:39:53 CDT 1998

On Mon, 10 Aug 1998, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> > Not real *apart* from its Foundation, but [*as a strategy* I think it's
> > best to regard it as] a real manifestation of brahman (viz. saguna
> > brahman or brahman's lila),
> Aside from strategy, what is the philosophical position about whether the
> world is a real manifestation or otherwise? Or is there nothing beyond
> strategy?
> Vidyasankar

This may not be the answer you are looking for, but let me present it
anyway. I am hoping to show by the end of this post that what logic and
intellect gather is not necessarily true and that logic and intellect
fail at the end of the road.

I am basing my answer on Viveka ChUDAmaNi, verse 518 which I am presently
thinking about. Shri Shankara says here

MahA-svapne mAyA-kr^ta-jani-jarA-mr^tyu-gahane
bhramantam klishyantam bahula-tara-tApair anudinam
ahaMkAra-vyAghra-vyathitam imam atyanta kr^payA
prabodhya prasavApAt param avitavAn mAm asi guro

[The disciple, after realization, is addressing the acAryA]  I have
been dreaming all this time a great dream and travelling in a great
forest created by mAyA, where birth, decay and death and all kinds
of troubles and pain afflicted me all the time and the tiger of ego
terrified me immensely. O Master, you have, out of sheer grace,
awakened me from that dream and saved me forever.

In this Shri Shankara calls this jagat a mahA svapna (a great dream)
where the daily afflictions and the tormenting by the tiger of ego
are a daily feature. There are some subtle but major features in
comparisons between a regular dream and this mahA svapna (as deemed
consistent by intellect and logic).

Intellectually understanding:

1. In a regular dream, we do not know when the dream will end.
Here in this mahA svapna, we know the dream will not last after the
tiger of ego is killed and also the dream will not end until after the
tiger of ego is killed.

2. In a regular dream, we do not know what scene follows what, but in
this mahA svapna, we know the last scene.

3. Much more important than the above two is: In a regular dream, while
dreaming, we do not know it is not real. We know that it is not real only
after we wake up and realize that what was experienced until then is
only a dream.
In this mahA svapna also, intellectually, we cannot recognize it is not
real until we wake up from this mahA svapna. While we are in the mahA
svapna, we consider the jagat to be real. When we wake up out of this
mahA svapna, we are still part of the jagat, but we see it all as a
[Shri Shankara is quite consistent in His impeccable logic here. It
is the disciple, saying *after realization* that this is all a mahA
svapna. As I understand this verse, Shri Shankara is not saying that
we intellectually dismiss this world as unreal, but is exhorting us
for that advaitic anubhUti, waking up out of the mahA svapna, so that
we can say the jagat is unreal.]

4. Intellectually, it makes sense that we cannot regard the jagat as
unreal, because if we speak intellectually we are still in the dream
and *while in dream*, the jagat and the dream happenings are real.

Thus my answer to your question is: it is an unfair question. There
is only one answer that can be given intellectually, and that answer
is not the Truth.

In paramArtha, this question or any question cannot be answered as the
jagat is in me.


Not entirely related to this thread but on the VC verse 518 that is
quoted above.

The only commentary I have on VC is the very brief translation by
Swami Turiyananda (Ramakrishna Math). Swami Turiyananda says as a
footnote to this verse that looking at the avidyA-generated jagat as a
mahA svapna is a better way. He says that quite often the question
is asked of advaita: If avidyA is anAdi (without beginning), then must
it not also be anantam (without end) ? He says looking at this as
mahA svapana, this particular difficulty of anAdi and anantam is
overcome. My supplementary question on this is the above one:

Intellectual understandingwise, if avidyA is anAdi, must it not
also be anantam ?

I am sure Shri Shankara answered this question somewhere. Can
knowledgeable members explain what is Shri Shankara's answer and where
was it discussed.

Gummuluru Murthy

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