The link between Vyavaharika and Paramartika

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed May 6 13:00:58 CDT 1998

On Thu, 30 Apr 1998, Chandran, Nanda (NBC) wrote:

> Even my supposedly coherent post yesterday ended up incoherent, I've
> been thinking long and hard on this subject :-)
> My point is that if we associate the individual Jiva even remotely (as
> the substratum, as a reflection, as a part of the composite etc) with
> Brahman it will fail the Eternal Absolute test. Atleast I'm unable to
> think of any way out of it.
> My main basis of argument is that I *who am being affected by the realm
> of Maya* can in no way be the Eternal Absolute. If an Eternal Absolute
> exists in me (1) it cannot be the "I" nor (2) can't form a part of the
> "I" (as a substratum) or (3) even be remotely associated with the "I"
> (as a reflection).
> Case (1) - how can the Eternal Absolute be affected in the realm of
> Maya?
> Case (3) would beg the question as to how an Eternal Absolute, which is
> by definition inefficient, can be the cause of a reflection?
> Case (2) is the more complex and quite difficult to explain. For Eg : I
> look at a beautiful woman. So who's looking at her? My mind? My Ego? My
> Jiva, whose substratum is Brahman? It cannot be *just* the Mind or Ego,
> for that would give them a seperate identity which would sever
> connection with the substratum. So if it's a composite which is looking
> at her, the composite would include the substratum too, to however small
> a degree, which is being influenced.
> If it's stated that Brahman can only be seperate from the "I", then the
> question would prop up ,"How do you know it exists?"
> Rama states that Shankara keeps silent on Avidya, as talking about it
> would prove it's reality. But wouldn't that mean that at the Vyavaharika
> level, where Maya is all encompassing, all we can do is talk about an
> Entity whose existence we can't logically prove nor make a link to?

I can think of two ways Vedanta gets around this difficulty.  One is that
we know the relation of Brahman and Maya through the Shruti. As it is
eternal and uncreated it does not suffer the defects of an ordinary
instrument of knowledge such as perception or interference.  The other is
that the cognition doesn't proceed from jiva -> Brahman but rather the
other way around.  Swami Madhusudan Saraswati and other more theistically
oriented acharyas employ this argument.  The jivas role is not passive
though.  He is to prepare himself to receive this insight through sadhana

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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