Nanda Chandran Nanda.Chandran at NBC.COM
Wed May 27 13:22:46 CDT 1998

I've been reading the Upanishads for the past few days and to an extent
it cleared some doubts and misconceptions of mine. I would like to share
it with the list so that others can point out where I'm possiby erring.

The Atman is the Changeless Eternal Absolute - CEA.

We used to have a lot of discussions in the past about the unreality of
the world, which had provoked a lot of humorous responses from Jaladhar
and Rama. The general tendency is to take mAyA literally and state
everything is in the mind only and nothing apart from the self exists!

The Vivekachoodamani while explaining Atman used a quote from the
AtharvaVeda which states that, "verily everything is Brahman".

But Brahman is supposed to be the CEA, so how can everything be Brahman?
My body which is perishable cannot be Brahman. So is this computer I'm

This is where the concept of the substratum or the intrinsic nature of
the subject comes into play. The analogy of the gold in both the ring
and the chain is used. In the sense that both are essentially only gold,
but classified with the name and form, the take on seperate identities.
So the basest quality of the subject is what should be the intrinsic
nature - Brahman.

Swami Satchidananda states that in both the body and the brick wall, the
intrinsic nature is the conciousness. So atleast in Advaitam, mAyA
doesn't refer to the illusory nature of the world in the literal sense
(I think!), but rather the perception of duality in the empirical world
and thereby highlighting the underlying common substratum in everything,
which is essentially One - Advaitam.

So our hunt is for the basest (not to be misinterpreted :-) nature in
ourselves! And the way to use the neti-neti is to subject the contender
to the CEA test!

        Because e-mail can be altered electronically,
        the integrity of this communication cannot be guaranteed.

>From  Wed May 27 20:55:44 1998
Message-Id: <WED.27.MAY.1998.205544.0400.>
Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 20:55:44 -0400
Reply-To: ramakris at
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <ramakris at EROLS.COM>
Subject: Re: Gayatri Mantra and adhikara
Comments: To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Sankaran Jayanarayanan wrote:

> >No. It is said gAyantamtrAyateti gAyatrI.
> >
> What is the source of this statement?

My father :-). I can ask him the next time I phone him and let you know.

> >shrImad AchArya's direct disciple shivasoma migrated to Cambodia [1].
> >Inscriptions mentioning sha.nkarabhagavatpAda are found there.
> shivasoma
> >was the rAjaguru of a king there.
> There are lots of doubts about the exact geographical locations during
> Shankara's times. Even the birthplace of Shankara can be debated.
> Totakacharya, one of the direct disciples of Shankara, and the first
> pontiff of the Badrinath Math, mentions that Shankara was born in
> Chidambaram in Tamilnadu. The other references say it is Kaladi in
> Kerala. Given that even Shankara's birthplace is vague, I'd doubt any
> reference to the disciple of Shankara being the Rajaguru in Cambodia.

That Chidambaram story is utter nonsense. First of all the anatAnadagiri
sha.nkara vijayam is a completely useless work. The author does not even
know sanskrit and in many places it's clear that he wants to
ridicule/insult sha.nkara. He calls sha.nkara the son of a widow etc.
These are all standard scurrilious stories prevelant among mAdhva-s and
the Sringeri pundits think that this must be the work of some dvaitin to
ridicule sha.nkara.

So a piece of stone with inscriptions on it found in Cambodia will just
disappear by the force of your doubts :-)? I have given references, it's
upto you to do the home-work. Sitting here and making sweeping
statements is not going to help any. The person who wrote the book was a
top official in the archaelogical survey of India. The reason seems
rather obvious, shivasoma was a rAjaguru and hence inscriptions can be
found. The others were not associated with any king, hence the lack of
historical data. Surely you don't expect every person who lived in those
times to leave inscriptions so that your doubts could be resolved :-)?
Perhaps Dr Sivaramamurti is mistaken, but he has clearly given
references in his book. Why don't you check up references?

> > H.H shrI bhAratI kR^ishhNa tIrtha
> >__sha.nkarAchArya of pUri__ travelled to the US in the sixties. Let's
> >once and for all get rid of this bogus stuff about geographical
> >locations.
> >
> When my father returned from Germany after his PhD, his Guru would not
> accept him as a disciple. It is not that Guruji specifically refused to
> allow him back as a disciple, but that as a general rule, it was known
> that he did not accept someone who had travelled abroad. Later, he
> happenned to see my father somewhere and said that he had "relaxed this
> rule." Crossing the seas does seem to have had some connotations of
> "unholiness."

It had/has a bad name since vegetarianism and other such stuff was
difficult to follow. One of my friends told me that when her father used
to study here (30 years back) even biscuits had lard in them. These days
there is no such problem of following regulations. Cooking by oneself is
quite easy and it's quite easy to find vegetarian stuff.

With due respects to your father's guru, his opinions hardly matter when
acknowledged leaders of smArta-s disagree with him/acted to the

> >The gAyatrI mantra is to be chanted by dvijas only, which does not mean
> >just brahmins. The Arya Samaj has no place in advaita.
> >
> My question can still be paraphrased: Dvijas alone are eligible to chant
> the Gayatri Mantra. Why?

The seers who see the mantra-s also give the rules. That's it. It's
analogous to a physical law. If you believe the seers' mantra, logically
you'll have to believe the rules. If you want to go against it go ahead.
But the same seers have also warned about using mantra without adhikAra.

It's this selective skepticism which I find amusing. When a guy says
something about the efficacy of a mantra people believe him. But when
some restrictions are pointed out "scientific thinking" takes over! The
skeptic raises questions with all vigor :-).

> >This clearly shows that you have been reading NONE of the posts. I have
> >clearly posted quotes from various authorities that anyone is
>                                                      ^^^^^^^^^^
> entitled
> ^^^^^^^^
> >to GYAna.
> ^^^^^^^^^
> >
> It is easy to see from Shankara's BSB that,"... Moxa can follow only
> from a previous study of the Vedic texts."
> Which implies that not just anyone, but only one who is or has been a
> Dvija in a previous life can acquire GYAna. This is a fundamental
> requirement that Shankara explicitly lays out in his Brahma Sutra
> Bhashya.

How does that matter? As I pointed out, the theory of rebirth itself is
given under the axiom that things cannot happen "accidentaly". _If_ a
non-dvija attains GYAna one has to infer that he must have heard the
vAkya-s before. But the inference of such does not matter to anyone,
least of all the sAdhaka. And how would you know whether or not someone
has never been a dvija? Frankly, it's a waste of time discussing this
question. Sha.nkara's point is different in the BSB. His point is that
only through upanishhad-s GYAna can be gained. If it seems otherwise we
are forced to infer that he must have read them in a previous life. It's
not to pat all brahmins on the back (which seems to be the opinion you
have). The point is the importance of the upanishhad-s. BTW, since there
are countless examples of non-dvija-s in the upanishhad-s and purANa-s
attaining GYAna. So before attaining GYAna why bother about this at all?
As Vidyasankar pointed out the GYAna=moxa implicitly undermines
adhikAra, at least to a certain extent.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list