Nature of Consciousness

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Wed Jul 21 20:37:01 CDT 1999

Parisi & Watson <niche at AMERITECH.NET> wrote:

> I am strongly allergic to it personally, since it calls back the
worst of my
> Christian upbringing. And we have only to look at the strife that
has been

Sorry for being blunt, I am afraid you'll have to give up advaita
vedAnta then. Srimad Sureshvara says in his Naishhkarmyasiddhi that
reasoning can only tell what the self is _not_ but not what it is
(2.96). Non-duality can be known only be "attainment" of the self.
This is possible _only_ by vedic texts (3.115). Vedic texts does not
just mean the veda-s alone. For people not authorized to study veda-s,
initiation into vedAnta is possible through smR^iti texts, e.g., the
vishhNu purANa. The latter are based on the veda-s, but have a
human/divine author.

> provoked among Jews, Christians, and Muslims by their overlapping
and yet
> antagonistic 'revelations' to see how dangerous and misuided such an

There need not be any antagonism on accepting revelation. While we
cannot say that there was no violence perpetrated by vedic religions,
we can certainly say that it was very much trivial compared to the
bloody battles in the West. All vedic schools recognize that
revelation is to be consistent with reasoning and personal experience.
The only difference is what conclusions they come to. Thus very little
violence was perpetrated in the name of revelation. In fact, even the
little violence in India was sectarian, i.e., pertaining to
superiority of vishhNu or shiva. All these sects base themselves on
the Agama-s or the pA.ncarAtra and pay mere lip service to vedic
revelation. Note that Agama-s and pA.ncarAtra were authored texts,
while the veda-s are eternal and unauthored. Bhagavan Kumarila Bhatta
gives convincing arguments as to why the vedas should be considered as
not having an author. To repeat, the veda-s have no author, not even
Lord Narayana himself. Since there was no author, there can be no
error. The error can lie only in interpretation.

> can be. Beyond that, I've always been a little puzzled by the notion
> God as some sort of absolute impersonal consciousness yet has the
> disposition to write books. If that's legitimate, then why not go
all the
> way and also have something like Papal infallibility? I don't mean
to be

Pope or any human being is human. Even Lord Shiva can be in error. But
as I explained, veda-s are unauthored and hence error free.

> glib, but for many years I have thought that one of the most
precious things
> about Indian philosophy is that it minimizes appeals to such ideas.
Yes, the

The place of revelation is somewhat different from Western religions.
A true picture can be obtained only by studying pUrva mImA.nsA.

> Vedas are authoritative, but I thought we could get along with just
> them as a guide combined with personal exploration, rather than
> them as infallible, unquestionable truth from the beginning. Was I
> in this?

What is to prevent some Hitler like person claiming some obnoxious
policy as the result of personal exploration with the veda-s as a
guide? Personal experience is of use only to oneself, not in
discussions with other people.  Anyway, the role of veda-s is somewhat
different from that of the Testaments or the Koran. You will need to
study the rule of mImA.nsA for that.

There is this modern tendency to rely on someone else's personal
experience or claiming that ones own personal experience validates
ones claims. That is absurd and has no place in advaita vedAnta.


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