saguNa and nirguNa are the same

Sankaran Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Fri Dec 17 10:00:49 CST 1999

On Mon, 13 Dec 1999, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:

> I have been wondering whether to even take part in this discussion
> anymore.

Me too. But this posting of mine has become necessary.


> You are telling me that whatever *I* have said is obvious and then
> paraphrase what *I* said, and adopt a supercilious tone and have the
> unmitigated crust to claim that's what  Anand told me?!!

Look, at first I honestly didn't understand what you meant by saying
"shruti is directly opposed to avidyaa". I shall take time to explain why.

You said:
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.


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.

So you're trying to say that

1) saguNopAsana CANNOT sublate avidyaa since it is not "directly opposed"
   to it.
2) shruti CAN sublate avidyaa as it is "directly opposed" to it as in
   tiger-in-the-dream analogy.

This is your posting from the archives:
From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 10:13:16
Subject: Re: Questions on History of Advaita

Kartik wrote:

> I wish to know the Vedantic concept of Saguna Brahman well, since my only
> sadhana is daily prayer. I would very much appreciate any responses to my
> question: Saguna Brahman is obviously our own (mis)conception of
> Nirguna Brahman. So if we do not worship Saguna Brahman or if we do not care
> to "think" of Nirguna Brahman, does Saguna Brahman exist?

[ deleted ]

An explanation in terms of this would be as follows: Suppose in a dream you
feel hungry and ask someone where a restaraunt is and you want to go there to
satisfy you hunger. Is there a restaraunt or not? Should you believe him?
Similarly the sages have said that there is someone called Ishvara and
devotion to him can get rid of delusion (remember the tiger in dream analogy of
shrI sureshvarAchArya?).

so we now have:
3) saguNopAsana: like tiger in a dream which destroys avidyaa.

But somehow they are "different" because shruti is "directly opposed"?!??
Is it that difficult to see the BLATANT contradictions in statements 1,2
and 3?!

Therefore, your example of a tiger-in-a-dream did no good to explain what
you meant by "directly opposed." I replied to your posting first, and then
"chewed" on it for sometime with my own understanding of avidyaa in the
form of the ahaMkAra and exclaimed "Oh, I now understand what Rama is
saying!" The word "obvious" was not meant in a derogatory sense as to
dismiss what you were saying as trivial. Rather, I meant it as "no one
will dispute what you are trying to say here."

Before you take on a judgmental attitude and get accusatory, you MUST
admit that my confusion had a *basis*.

> Thankfully,
> Anand and I clearly understand where we agree and disagree. I clearly
> pointed out the role of upAsana or my understanding of it, including
> Sri Mahasanndidhanams essay on it. What Anand and I were discussing
> was whether *upAsana and GYAna can be combined*, that's where we
> disagree. It is not the "obvious" thing you are quoting above. We had
> no disagreements on this point.

I couldn't quite understand several points that you had made on your
earlier posts, but I didn't go into them in detail, because I had my
final exams then and didn't want to take up too much time. For example,
you said "...there is nothing called nirguNa upAsana."

And then you define: "upAsana$ = Considering "Ishvara" as the self."

If the Self is nirguNa Brahman, and if "upAsana" has any meaning at all,
why is it impossible to talk of nirguNa upAsana? Because nirguNa upAsana
is *precisely* worshipping the supreme being as the Self.

BTW, what do you say to this prayer from the Vishnu Purana? Before you
dismiss it as a "stray quotation," you should remember that the VP is
quoted by Shankara, and has the unique honor of being the only Purana
Shankara quotes from in his Bhaashhyas. (I have read before that the
mArkaNDeya purANa is also quoted, but not so sure though.)

Vishnu Purana, Book 1, Chapter 14:

[The prayer is first a description of Vishnu in his saguNa form. I'm not
quoting it. The second part of the prayer is as follows.]

"We worship that Purushhottama, the God who is pure spirit, and who,
without qualities, is ignorantly considered as endowed with qualities. We
adore that supreme Brahma, the ultimate condition of VishhNu,
unproductive, unborn, pure, void of qualities, and free from accidents;
who is neither high nor low, neither bulky nor minute, has neither shape,
nor color nor shadow, nor substance; nor affection, nor body; who is
neither etherial nor susceptible of contact, smell, or taste; who has
neither eyes, nor ears, nor motion, mor speech, nor breath, nor mind, nor
name, nor race, nor enjoyment, nor splendour; who is without cause,
without fear, without error, without fault, undecaying, immortal, free
from passion, without sound, imperceptible, inactive, independent of place
or time, detached from all investing properties; but (illusively)
excersing irresistible might, and identified with all beings, dependent
upon none. Glory to that nature of VishhNu which tongue cannot tell, nor
has eye beheld."

...when VishhNu said to them,"Receive the boon you have desired; for I,
the giver of good, am content with you, and am present." The Prachetasas
replied to him with reverence and told him that the cause of their
devotions was the command of their father to effect the multiplication of

Where are *any* guNas mentioned? It is evident that this "VishhNu" that is
being worshipped had no qualities, and it explicitly says so! Looks like
nirguNa upAsana to me!


> Rama


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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