reposting again

K. Sadananda sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Fri Aug 3 12:33:29 CDT 2001

>nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>So words like maya and nirgua is used express  the inexpressible. Can you
>practically show something that's formless in the world that we experience?
>Even with air or water - the first we merely feel and do not see and the
>second takes the shape of whatever container hold it. Or atleast everything
>has a form at the time we perceive it - the mere fact that we see something
>points to the existence of form. Formlessness is beyond conception and we
>can only infer it as the opposite of that which is with form.

Nanda - I am not sure you are right about this. Form is only one
attribute of an object where eyes are the pramaaNa or means of that
knowledge.  Converse that every object should have a form is not
necessarily valid.  If I close my eyes and smell something - I have a
feeling that there is an object that forms a locus for the smell and
I do not think any form is required for conceptualization.   Concept
can be centered on an object but that need not have a form.  I agree
that there must be some object that has locus for the smell - but
this is an inference by the mind since it has fundamental postulate
based on experience that three cannot be attributes without a locus
for the attributes.   Your last sentence above, I do not thing is
valid either both i.e. the first part and the last part. Most of the
abstract mathematics do not necessarily  associated with tangible

Your argument is exactly what Bhagavaan Ramanuja and Shree Vedanta
Deshika uses to formulate that every object must have attributes and
every attribute must have an object. The attributes, dharma-s
(adravya-s in V.D's notion) and the locus of the attributes, dharmi
(dravya-s) are different but have integral relation between the two
since one cannot conceive independent of the other.  The postulate,
which is based on experience, is that we perceive both the object and
the attributes simultaneously in our experience of an object.    This
argument is next extended to Jiiva and Paramaatma, considering each
one as an object.

I am finding a major problem in these postulates which appears to be
parallel to your statement, hence I brought the issue.

'Can I ever perceive an object?' is the fundamental question I am
facing.  The 'form' you mentioned and the colors are through the eyes
and are attributes of an object, but not an object per sec.
Similarly, the smell, touch, taste and sound.  These are attributes
and not an object?  Now, how and when we perceive the object?  Senses
can only perceive the attributes and the degrees in the attributes.
But can we ever perceive an object- if so how?   We experience an
object therefore there is an object is not absolutely right
statement.  Experience is not knowledge and experience need to be
understood - then it becomes knowledge if that knowledge of the
experience is not invalidated by a better knowledge.

  From my understanding, we never perceive an object!  - Mind has to
come in to integrate all the perceptions into locus and infer -
underline infer- that there is an object with those attributes.  This
inference is based on fundamental inference made by the mind that
there cannot be attributes without a locus and hence there is an
object with those attributes.  Form, color, smell, touch, taste sound
are not the object.  The existence of the object is inference based
on the above fundamental inferential conclusion.  Ultimately my own
existence is lended to the object's 'isness'  - hence puurnaat purnam
udachyate makes sense.  I wrote this just get you to argue since you
love arguments!  And  not to dump my understanding on your head.  I
am taking the liberty to send this to Shree Krishna Kalale and Mani
Varadarajan to make sure I am not misinterpreting Bhagavaan
Ramanuja's and Vedanta Deshika's theories on Epistemology.

>So point to be understood here is that language/thought (one can't exist
>without the other) is not absolute and only relative.

Your are absolutely right about that - but relative to what? -
relative to my existence? 'Object out there' is a thought in my mind
due to integral and inferential relation of the attributes and the
object thought.  The thought has to be in my consciousness for me to
be conscious of the thought.  Hence the thought and hence the object
associated with the thought become relative to my existence.  In a
way  - 'I am' lending the support to the 'is-ness' of the object.

>>Maaya is a concept brought in to account for one appearing as many.
>Again I will say this. Almost without exception every school of Indian
>philosophy points to chitta vritti nirodah as the way to liberation. The
>mind/thought has to cease for one to be liberated.

I am not sure your are right here either.  From the Adviata point, as
I understand, it is not chitta vritti nirodha - That can never happen
as along as one is embodied!  or can happen if one becomes a stone
without a mind! - or stoned!  What is liberation  in advaita is  to
drop the notions in the mind or misunderstanding that 'I am this or
that' - identification with the upaadhi-s - that is identification of
subject with the object- that is not the same of annihilation of
upaadhi-s.   - sarva bhuutastam aatmaanam, sarva bhuutanicha aatmani
- all beings are in me and I am in all beings - The subject pervades
the object as consciousness. Subject includes the object since
objects have no independent existence as discussed above.
Subject-object distinction is only play of the mind  or should I say
- play in the mind or on the mind!   or one can say the play is my
vibhuuti  since mind being inert cannot itself play without me
lending my support.

According to VishhiTaadvaita what you say is not right either- There
nidhidhyaasana culminates into the bhakti ruupa j~naana in the mind
only.  Only in videha mukti - the jiiva gains sarvaj~natvam since
mind is not needed for the sarvaj~natvam. They call that as
dharma-bhuuta j~naana in contrast to swaruupa j~naana since jiiva-s
are considered as many and tiny.

Hence from both philosophies, you are not absolutely right.  You may
be right from Ramanuja's point but there it is not just the mind
-mind/thought ceases only one is no more embodied.

>  So how can one after
>liberation *think* that he's the only one? Then even reality will be within
>the grasp of thought - which the shruti denies. Brahman is being. It is
>beyond thought. It is existence without thought. The moment you try to
>think/express it, you make the infinite, finite and the absolute, relative.

Sorry Nanda - It is not existence without thoughts - it is existence
in spite of the thoughts.  Thoughts raise in me, subsist by me and go
back into me -I pervade every thought but every thought is different
from me.   Since each thought is locus  of an object - one can say -
yathova imaani bhuutani jaayane -- etc are valid absolutely as
thought raise, stay and go back into me.

>How so?
>Because as explained above - thought/language is a mere pointer and doesn't
>have absolute substance. Knowledge in the conventional sense is only linking
>together of all these pointers for practical utility. But if we go back to
>the fundamental concepts and try to dig beyond it, we find that they have no
>substance. Knowledge through language/thought is the anti-thesis of true
>knowledge, which is self knowledge - atma jnaanam. The distinction between
>the two is that while the former revels in the duality of subject and
>object, the latter is knowledge of the subject only - it is self-knowledge
>and non-relational and non-dependent on anything other than itself. It is
>knowledge as the thing in itself.

Nanda - you are right in your statements but somehow drift in terms
of conclusion- thoughts are not absolute alright and that is a fact
but that does not mean that to be one with the absolute one need to
eliminate the thoughts.  It is like the waves, waves are the ocean
yet waves are not the ocean, and one need eliminate the waves to have
darshan of the ocean.  Seeing the waves is seeing the ocean as they
are its glory - pasyam me yogom aiswaram - Look at my glory - All
being are in me but yet I am not in them - and they are not me.  They
are my glory.  Yet I pervade everything in unmanifested form - maya
tatam idam sarvam jagat  avyakti muurthinaa. - since manifestation is
objectification and thoughts come into picture since they are locus
for objects presumably out there.
>Maya is about unreality and so in a strict sense it has only marginal
>relevance in the teaching of reality. Does anyone say that just by knowing
>the world is unreal - maya - we can be liberated? If so, anybody who
>understands the Madhyamika Shaastram will be liberated. No, Atma Jnaanam -
>knowledge of the self - alone can liberate. This is also the reason why
>Vedanta is above Madhyamika - because it is the Brahma Sutra - it teaches
>about reality - Brahman.

True - the question is only 'does shruti provide direct reference to
maaya?' - to the same degree as it points to Brahman.  No one gets
liberated by just verbally knowing that 'this is maya' or   'I am
brahman'.  It is not understanding as understanding as a thought but
understanding as understanding as a fact - as JK puts it.
>The sages of the Upanishads taught about the way to reality - either they
>taught atma jnaanam or maunam or yoga. Sometimes they also described/pointed
>to reality - but these teachings are not absolute as no expression/thought
>can grasp the absolute. Also it is not really necessary they they should
>teach about the world -

Nanda - you are missing the point - if they could tell about Braham
which is avyaktam, which cannot be expressed, they could have told
about maaya too in the same language they used.  Your assertion that
it is not necessary for them to tell about maaya is a matter of your
opinion and there is no problem in that as long as we accept that as
such.  For those who are seeking a direct shruti pramaana for maaya
in the way Shankara used it, for them it is necessary - the rest is
an explanation for those who are convinced or from those who are not
convinced - is it not?

>  infact teachers like the Buddha considered it a
>hindrance as such effort will take you away from what's truly required. It
>is with Nagarjuna that the maya doctrine is reasoned out - even with him his
>purpose was different - he wanted to prove to relativity of what we call
>knowledge and the difference between that and the real knowledge. And with
>Shankara/Advaita that it is reconciled with reality/Brahman.
>So ultimately maya is fully reconcilable with the intellect. As Gaudapaada
>says only that which is taught by the shruti and is substantiated by reason
>is the truth and nothing else. Else anybody can read anything in the Brahma
>Sutra and claim that is the truth. Reason is the key and the true guide. And
>maya is a product of reasoning.

Precisely - the word you used is 'reasoned out' - essentially what is
called anumaana pramaaNa.  But I would argue more than that in
defence of maaya - it is not just loukika anumaana but shruti based
anumaana which all aachaary-s use it in one form or the other for
some of their concepts.

Hari Om!

>Again there's a difference between : statement - reasoning - reality.
K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117
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