Bhagavad kr^pa (grace of God)
sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Thu Jan 15 10:07:14 CST 1998
Sri Gummaluru Murthy wrote:
>A few months ago, I was attending a lecture by a
> swamiji belonging to viShishhTa-advaita tradition. At the end of the
> lecture, I asked a general question concerning mAya.
> The swamiji's response (of course completely disregarding the concept
>of >mAya) included a statement to the effect "How can mAya be there ?
I donot know about this Swami. My guess is that he may not be negating the
Maya concept totally but only negating the Maya as avidya as explained in
> so powerful as to completely mask the Brahman ? Or is Brahman so weak
> as to be masked by mAya ?
This is a classical dialogue which Bhagavan Ramaanuja raises as part of
his seven onslaughts on avidya -
Shankara gives a beautiful example in his Atmabodha - meghaapaayemsumaan iva-
- Just as the clouds covering the sun.
We all knows that we cannot see the sun when dense clouds spread in the
sky. We say we cannot see the sun as clouds are covering the sun. Yet we
know that clouds cannot really cover the sun since sun is so big in
comparison to the earth and the clouds. Yet the vision of the sun is not
clear for the one how is underneath the clouds. (why clouds - I can cover
the whole universe with the tip of my finger by closing one eye and
bringing the finger close to the second eye) In fact the clouds arose
because of the sun only. Also we can see the clouds only because of the
illumination of these clouds by the very sun that they are covering! How do
we know that there is the sun behind the clouds - only because we can see
the clouds that are obstructing the sun. When the winds blow away, we can
see the sun shining in his full glory. Just as the clouds cannot cover the
sun, the winds cannot uncover the sun. The analogy is exact with the
ignorance and knowledge.
Ignorance cannot cover the Brahman since Brahman is all pervading. Yet we
fail to see the truth. In fact the we are conscious of our ignorance only
because of the illumination of the ignorance by the very consciousness that
is being covered. Knowledge does not bring Atma since it is there all the
time. It only removes the obstruction.
Part of the confusion here is the distinction between Brahman versus
Iswara. Advaita makes a distinction and VishisTaadvaita does not. In
adviatic tradition too, Iswara is not deluded by Maya. He is Maayaavi -
wielder of the Maya. But the concept of Iswara itself arises because of
the self delusion that I am jeeva and this is the world which is a creation
and hence there is an Iswara who is the creator. Of course Iswara cannot
have ignorance. If he has, he cannot be Iswara.
VishisTaadvaita, and may be dwaita also, equate Iswara with Brahman. Where
as in Advaita, Brahman is beyond the creation. There is no
creator-creating and created in Brahman. But when Jeeva identifies that I
am jeeva, the ignorance is already there - then automatically the Jagat and
the Creator also enter.
Of course, the major, apparently valid, question that Ramaanuja raises is
the locus of this avidya. Who is ignorant is the question?. Brahman as
Iswara cannot be ignorant. Jeeva himself is the product of ignorance. If
we say Jeeva has the ignorance, then we fall into the trap of accepting
that Jeeva was there before ignorance started, since he has the ignorance.
Even if the ignorance is eliminated, Jeeva will still be left behind. Then
there is no more equation between Jeeva and Brahman. Advaita explains this
by saying that (1) avidya is anaadi - beginning less but has an end when
knowledge takes place and (2) it is unexplainable, anirvachaneeyam. -
VishisTaadvaitins feel that this is not an explanation but a cope out.
>From their point also there is maaya - but maaya is not avidya but power of
the Lord, Iswara who is Brahman, and he is the Maayaavi. Jeevas get caught
up in this maaya when they ignore the Lord, Naaraayana. Hence locus of
Maaya is Brahman only, but it manefests as his power.
Explanation appears to be O.K at a superficial level. But the problme is.
Lord becomes a tyrant in the sky who blesses those who pray to him or put
them in the delusion of his maaya, otherwise. Since Lord cannot be like
that, and since He is the very embodiment of compassion, with Lord's grace
equal for everyone, the only explanation why the jeevas get caught up with
sense objects is due to their own delusion. Now the question comes? When
did this delusion started? Since Jeevas are eternal and Brahman as Iswara
is eternal and Jagat is also eternal, when and why the Jeevas got their
delusion started - It becomes similar to their own question, when did the
ignorance started? - If it started then before that they must be
knowledgeable and those who have knowledge before how can they loose that
knowledge, If that knowledge can be lost like that what use is Moksha
since these is no guarantee that they would not loose again. These
arguments are overcome by saying that (1) It is essentially unexplainable
since it is the Leela of the Lord. Essentially the Play of the Lord. The
whole universe becomes a Leela vibhuuti of the Lord. (2) Of course Lord
himself gives the guarantee that once one gains mOksha he will never get
caught up with the Leela again- one will be obviously transported to Nitya
Vibhuuti, his parandhaama - from where there is no more return. As
Christianity puts it one will be sitting on the right side of the Lord
rather than on the wrong side.
This getting into the wrong side of the Lord as part of the Leela of the
Lord is no more intellectually satisfying than the simple advaitic
statement that it is anirvachaneeyam, or the ignorance is beginning less
and is unexplainable.
The reason is that the beginnings and the explanations are the concepts
involving time factor and intellect, which are products of avidya. Avidya
by definition has to be beginning less - true for any ignorance. Ignorance
cannot start, yet can end when knowledge takes place. When did my
ignorance of chemistry started?- it was beginning less and of course ended
(partially) when I learned chemistry from a teacher.
>Thus mAya cannot explain what we see."
In contrast to what that Swami claims, Maya explains both what we see and
our notions about what we see. Since the questions are raised by the
intellect, advaita explains logically to the intellect. Vishepa and
aavarana are the two aspects of the maaya - Seeing the plurality is the
vishepa (illusory projection) and taking the plurality as reality is the
aavarana (delusion about the illusion).
Otherwise, we are left to the whims and fancies of the Lord at our expense!
- Lord ceases to be the Lord.
Frankly, one faces a dead-end in these arguments since intellect is
limited. Whether advaita is right or dwaita is right or VishisTaadvaita is
right, as Krishna points out one has to ultimately discover in oneself by
one self through oneself by meditation..
dyhanena atmani pastyanti kaschit atmaanam aatmanaa|
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
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