saguNa and nirguNa are the same

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Fri Dec 3 18:15:00 CST 1999

Reinterpreting the Isha verses:

The bhAshhyakAra has clearly distinguished upAsnana and GYAna
in the IshA bhAshhya. We need a vArtika to tell us what is
presumably unsaid or ill-said in the bhAshhya. We do have the
TIkA of Sri Anandgiri, but technically this is a commentary
and not a vArtika. So, I doubt whether Sri Anandagiri would go
beyond the bhAshhya. vArtika-s on the Isha-bhAshhya have never
been attempted in the tradition for about 1200 years now. So,
we may take it for granted that there is nothing ill-said or
unsaid in this bhAshhya.

I am not saying that the IshA cannot be interpreted in any
different way at all. We have Sri gauDapAda interpreting IshA
12th verse in a different way in his kArikA 3.25. The
bhAshhyakAra also justifies it in his bhAshhya, although he
explicitly notes that this is *not* the conventional
interpretation. The conventional interpretation he states in
the kArikA bhAshhya is the same as given in the IshA bhAshhya.
Anyway, IMO, such reinterpretations (if at all necessary) in
our case, are very tricky issues and best left to authorities
like Sri Bharati Tirtha Swamigal of Sringeri.

I have only read the tattvabindu of Sri madhusUdhana and he
does not talk about "GYAna-mishra", etc, in that work. But,
personally, I feel Sri madhusUdana is implying combination of
upAsana$ and GYAna and not upAsana and GYAna. If it's the
latter, I would like to see what the scriptural basis for this
statement is, since shruti seems to contradict such a view
rather forcefully. The ishA verses cannot be reinterpreted
(especially in the light of the rather forceful bhAshhya)
without proper justification.

Further, it is directly against the principle that GYAna alone
counteracts avidyA, since it is directly opposed to it. It
wouldn't make any sense to claim that upAsana which springs
from avidyA and which is not directly opposed to it, will
counteract avidyA.

upAsana and GYAna both being "mental"

<<<< Anand quotes from the chhAndogya bhAshhya:

Just as advaitaGYAna is only a modification of the mind
(destruction of the superimposition "adhyAsa" deeply rooted in
the mind), so also the other upAsanas are modifications of the
mind. Herein lies the similarity (between advaita-GYAna and


That is indeed so. However, that does not make them
equivalent. The point that bhagavatpAda is trying to make is
that acceptance of something called GYAna certainly implies
the prior acceptance of the affliction of avidyA, and so it is
itself within the sphere of avidyA only. All means of knowing,
***including shruti***, are within the sphere of avidyA only.
The difference, however is, that GYAna sublates avidyA like
how a dream of an unreal tiger can wake one up, since GYAna is
*directly opposed* to avidyA. The example of the kataka nut
cleansing water in Atmabodha, verse 5 is also apposite. Such
is not the case with upAsana since it is not directly opposed
to avidyA.

[continued in next post]

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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