Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Sun Feb 28 08:39:42 CST 1999

There has been much discussion about the rope snake analogy and mAyA.
The question is if the rope-snake analogy "perfectly" illustrates the
situation with respect to mAyA and brahman. This question would not
come up if the basic tenets of advaita are understood. First, and most
importantly, the tatittirIya upanishhad says

yato vAcho nivartante | aprApya manasA saha
[From which the speech turns back, along with the mind]

Suppose the rajju-sarpa analogy illustrated the situation perfectly.
Then by default, brahman is described perfectly. Since this would
contradict shruti's statement, obviously the rope-snake analogy cannot
describe the situation "perfectly". Raghavendra pointed out that one
should not read too much into the analogy. That is correct and H.H
Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswami himself has pointed that out in his
talks. The analogy just gives a real world example of "avidyA" to
drive home the point. There are certain later authors in the advaita
school who go into great detail and fill up many pages discussing just
the rope-snake analogy. IMO, that is not of any use.

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that examining all
these analogies separately with no reference to the context, serves no
purpose. One can keep arguing ad-infinitum about these analogies. Why
have our AchArya-s written so many texts? Does it make sense to read a
complete book or select one paragraph from it and keep arguing about
that paragraph with imperfect understanding of the other paragraphs?
Would anyone skim through a book on quantum mechanics and with
imperfect understanding of even the notation and keep arguing about
the Schrodingers equation? Why is advaita any different?

I suggest that questions be based on some text. Let me pick one, the
Atma bodha. The questions raised during the course of this discussion
are _all_ answered in that small text, written in simple Sanskrit. I
can state that with utmost confidence. When we ask questions should
realize something. Our AchArya-s are not idiots, far from it they have
complete understanding of the shAstras and spend their lifetimes
living the teachings of advaita. They know very well what questions
come up in the minds of novices like many of us. We need to read their
texts  CAREFULLY and then ask questions based on that. Many people
just seem to skim through some translation or the other and think they
have understood that text and mastered advaita also. Perhaps for some
extraordinary individual that may be the case. Would anyone skim
through a tome on Quantum Mechanics and start asking questions and
start arguing about the principles on a list for Quantum Mechanics?

If questions are based on some text, it keeps the discussion focused
and for people who answer it becomes an opportunity for shravaNa at
least. I like to participate only in such threads because it serves to
reinforce my understanding or correct it. Recently some of my doubts
on bhakti and advaita were solved by Anand. Or in the case of Vaidya
asking a question about the dashashlokI, I was able to refine my own
understanding of the poem. It is very useful for both people asking
questions and answering to stick to some text, or at least base the
questions on some text. The discussion is very orderly and methodical
and people will stick to the point. Please do not think I am trying to
stifle questions. It is just that we'd all be a little bit more wiser
if we stuck to source texts, especially by masters like sha.nkara,
sureshvara, gauDapAda and vidyAraNya.

May I request Jay to read _some_ text completely and then pose doubts
if he may have any? I suspect that if he reads Atmabodha carefully
he'll find his doubts solved automatically.


"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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>From  Sun Feb 28 12:09:45 1999
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Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 12:09:45 -0600
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To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
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From: Parisi & Watson <niche at AMERITECH.NET>
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Subject: The Most Helpful Translations
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I know there are many translations into Engish available of the works of
Shankara, and I have some of them. But the quality of the translation,
notes, and commentary (if any) varies widely. What I'd really like to
find is the major works of Shankara bound together in one or a few
volumes, with the most clear translation, the most helpful notes, and I
would hope some insightful commentary about their general context. Does
this exist, or are we forced to pick and choose from individual efforts,
often in almost a pamphlet format? Note that such a publication would
also provide implicit guidance on which works are the most important.

This is my second engagement with the mailing list, and this time I'd
like to do it right, so I'm looking for fundamentals. If the answer is
already in a FAQ somewhere, please direct me to it.


"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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