72. lakShaNAgAmyA

sadananda sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Thu Jun 18 11:40:24 CDT 1998

This is in reference to these two following posts:

On Wed, 17 Jun 1998, Vaidya N. Sundaram wrote:

> I believe Sri Chandrasekara Bharati, former pontiff of Sringeri madam
> once lapsed in samadhi during the archana of Sri Sarada at Sringeri. The
> nama he stopped at was Om TatpadalakshyArthAyai namah. After coming out
> of it, he reported exclaimed: advaitam stayam. advaitam satyam.
>  Can any knowledgable member write the meaning of this particular nAma of
> Sri Sarada.

Ravisankar May wrote:

>>72. lakShaNAgamyA
>SHE who is inaccessible  to lakShaNa.
>When a word cannot describe the essential meaning but only approximately
>describes the object of interest, this function of speech is called
>lakShaNa. It creates a sense of difference between the  word and it
>import. It can explain only finite things having  parts. It cannot
>function in relation to to brahman who is pure, infinite, unlimited
>consciousness. It cannot be said that brahman is of this kind, or brahman
>belongs to this or that. Hence, lakShaNa fails in HER case.  Agamya means
>inaccessible. SHE is inaccessible to lakShaNa.
>Inspite of the above, vedAnta accepts lakShaNa. In vedAnta the identity
>between tat and tvam is established only through jahadahad lakShaNa. Using
>this it is proved that when the attribute of jIva and Ishvara are
>discareded, the underlying unity is established. Hence the use of lakShaNa
>is accepted in vedAnta. But the deity here mentioned is pure awareness,
>effulgent and eternal. SHE is beyond lakShaNa, hence the name is proper.
>AUM lakShaNAgamyAyai namaH

As I understand:

In the discussion of Advaita vedanta - two terms are used frequently - one
is VisheshaNa and the other is LakshaNa.  There is no equivalent exact
translation into English but one can say that they are: attribute and
definition respectively.

There has been strong arguments between the dvaitins and advaitins -
whether Brahman has attributes (saguna) or no attributes (nirguna)- and
obviously dvaitins claim that sat, chit and ananda aspect of Brahman, which
advaitins agree, are indeed attributes or visheshaNa-s.

This is where the distinction between visheshaNa and lakshaNa comes in. My
notes here are only intended for clarification based on my understanding.
You are welcome to disagree.

VisheshaNa is an adjective qualifying  a noun.  Bhagawan Shakara's example
is blue lotus, red lotus, big lotus etc., where blue, red and big
differentiate one lotus among many types of lotuses  Differences among the
same kind. Sajaati bedha.

Now lotus itself can become a visheshaNa when we say lotus (flower) vs rose
(flower) etc. - where from the flower point it is sajaati bedha  but from
the point of lotus vs rose it is vijaati bedha - since lotus is not rose
and rose is not a lotus, although from flower point both are flowers
(sajaati) in contrast to fruits (vijaati).  This example is given to show
that even the differentiation of sajaati and vijaati bedhaas is also
relative in the relative world.

Thus all visheshaNa-s are the attributes that differentiate one from the
other of the same kind! ( Incidentally I am giving a lakshaNa ( a
definition) for a visheshaNa!)  In the ultimate analysis all objects can be
converted into visheshaNa to differentiate from the other objects.  For
example - India, computer, carets, vedanta - can still be considered as
sajaati bedhaa-s if there is some thing that is unifying all of them - say
things that I like.  The point is sajaati, vijaati and swagata bedhaa-s are
not only relative but even the classification into the three categories is
also relative. - This is in the nature of the visheshaNa itself.  They are
relative.   Now what is visheshaNa is clear.  From this it follows that
VisheshaNa or attributes can not be applicable to Brahman, which is ekameva
adviteeyam, one without a second.

Now what is lakshaNa then. LakshaNa of an object is that which
differentiates it from all other objects in the universe!  - This is the
definition (LakshaNa) of the LakshaNa! To be mathematically precise - it is
a necessary and sufficient condition for an object to be that object -
meaning for a flower to be called a Lotus, it has to fulfill certain
necessary and sufficient qualifications or attributes.  A discussion that
went few days ago is about the lakshaNa of a Brahmin - the necessary and
sufficient qualification of a person to be called a brahmin - for the case
in point where subjectivity comes in - some pramaNa, be it a convention or
sastra (science included), becomes a basis for the lakshaNa -  conflicts
arise if the convention itself is ambiguous as it appears to be the case as
definitions versus practices can differ due to ambiguity in the lakshaNa
itself.  Hence Supreme court comes in to reinterpret the laws due to lack
of their preciseness or lack of universality or superimposed (conflict)
domain between lakshaNaa-s.

For objects, the lakshaNa-s can be straight forward.  In fact science
starts by providing definitions for all the terms it uses. More precise the
LakshaNa, more precise the science.  For example H2O is the lakshaNa for
water - colorless, odorless, tasteless etc. are its attributes or
visheshaNa-s. H2O is the necessary and sufficient qualification of the
thing to be water. Hence it is a lakshaNa for a water.  The more precise
the lakshaNa, the more exact the object definition to separate it from the
rest of the universe - in fact by the definition for lakshaNa I gave, it is
that which separates a given object from the rest of the universe.  I hope
the difference between visheshaNa and lakshaNa is clear.

With that understanding we can address whether sat chat and ananda are
visheshaNa or lakshaNa for the Brahman or is Brahman beyond lakshaNa -as
Ravi pointed out.

In analyzing this problem, we immediately face the limitation of the very
tools that are used for the analysis.  Because the very lakshaNa of the
lakshaNa is that it should differentiate the object from the rest of the
universe.  Since Brahman (infiniteness) include everything and cannot
exclude anything as it is ekameva advitiiyam, one without a second, no
lakshaNa can be provided that can be used to differentiate from the rest of
the universe, since there is no rest of the universe!  In a sense Ravi is
right that it is lakshaNa + agamya (I think it should be hraswam - agamya
rather than Agamya - gamya is the goal and agamya is goal-less  - in this
case as Ravi pointed that it is beyond lakshaNa). One has to be clear in
this -  from the Brahman point or from the one who wants to analyze
Brahman in relation to the rest of the universe-Brahman is beyond lakshaNa
- hence all discussion stops.

This does not help the seekers who are seeking Brahman. Since the seeker
and sought are one and the same (ekameva adviteeyam) any seeking is likely
to fail - Since the very seeking involves a presumption that sought is not
there readily available for recognition as there is no lakshaNa to find and
differentiate from the rest of the universe.  To help the seeker, vedanta
provides a temporal lakshaNa-s for Brahman to help him in his seeking.
Hence Sat, Chit and Ananda are essentially the lakshaNa-s from the point
that it provides lakshaNa-s to differentiate from the rest of the other
objects that one can encounter in the universe as not this, not this since
they do not fulfill as sat chit and ananda.  ( at this stage we can dismiss
the dvaitins arguments that sat chit and ananda are visheshaNas for Brahman
since by our definition visheshaNa differentiates one from its own kind -
since Brahman is one of kind - no sajaati bedhaas are possible!)

Sat, chit and ananda are  three definitions in one - as they are not
mutually exclusive definitions only looking from different perspective -
same as satyam, JNaanam and anantam. Are they lakshaNa-s or not - is the
question. The right answer  depends on the perspective.  From seeker's or
Jeeva's perspective they provide a working definition to separate Brahman
from the jagat that is changing but they are not absolute definitions since
in the absolute Brahman is Brahman (infiniteness).  As Ravi pointed out
there is elaborate discussion in vedanta on the jahad, ajahad and
jahadajahat lakshaNa where lakshaNa-s are further differentiated.  Tat twam
asi comes under the last variety and Swami Sadananda (not me!) has
discussed elaborately on this in his Vedanta Saara text, for those who are

Hari Om!

K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117

>From  Thu Jun 18 21:44:11 1998
Message-Id: <THU.18.JUN.1998.214411.0400.>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 21:44:11 -0400
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To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <ramakris at EROLS.COM>
Subject: Request: Info from vedAntasAra by shrI  Sadananda yogIndra
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A request:

Can anyone with access to shrI sadAnanda yogIndras vedAntasAra look it
up and post what authorities he cites, if any, when interpreting
tattvamasi by using the principle of jahadajallaxaNa? Thanks.


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