Powers of a Jnani

Aniruddhan ani at EE.WASHINGTON.EDU
Thu Aug 15 11:06:27 CDT 2002

Namaste Kiran,

I am still a novice at advaita vedanta, but let me try to answer your
questions. This and other subsequent posts will also clear my own
understanding. I am sure the knowledgable members of the list will correct
me if I am wrong. I have changed the subject line to a more descriptive

First of all, advaita makes a distinction between nirguna brahman, which is
the Atman and the Ultimate and the Turya state, and saguna brahman, Who is
Ishvara (Ishvara is nothing but nirguna brahman viewed as possessing
qualities). It is Ishvara who controls maya, creates this world etc at the
vyavaharika level. On the level of nirguna brahman, the paramarthika level,
nothing but nirguna brahman (=atman) exists; no maya, no world, no people
etc. On the level of saguna brahman, Ishvara, this world and everybody
exists individually. Seen from the point of view of a jnani, the world is
seen as if it were a dream. I think the following analogy would be quite
similar to this relation:

(turya:waking state) :: (waking state:dream state)

>According to Advaita, the braHmavid is braHman. That
>braHmavid = braHman.

true. brahmavid = nirguna brahman

>It is clear to me that through the destruction of
>avidyA it is possible for a braHmavid to attain the
>braHman to whom satya, jnana and anatatva are
>attributed. However, it is not clear to me if the
>braHmavid can do anything wonderful in this material
>world at all. I mean, do his powers in the material
>world remain as limited as they were before the
>removal of the veil of avidyA? If the braHmavid was an
>athlete and he could complete 100m in 10s in a state
>of avidyA, can he do it in, let's say 2s when the
>avidyA is removed?

Once the nirguna brahman, the Ultimate, is reached, why would a jnani, who
has cast off all attachments to this world and in fact sees it as unreal,
want to use his powers? The jnani definitely would have attained all powers
to be attained (except creation of the universe).

>If the entire universe is the maayaa of the braHman,
>it is clear that the braHmavid has the entire maayaa
>in his command.

No, he doesn't. Maya is always controlled by Ishvara. The jnani doesn't
become Ishvara, he "becomes" nirguna brahman.

>The entire universe is a game he
>plays, and he is free to choose the laws that govern
>this game. If he chooses, he can see to it that when
>we wake up tomorrow, water when heated actually turns
>into ice - and this, for everybody in the world we

The jnani might have the siddhis to turn heated water into ice, but why
would he want to use them?

>Question 1: Am I right in the above analysis? Does the
>braHmavid have this sort of control over the material
>world which is all his maayaa? Can he change (for
>example) the rules of Physics (which are well within
>maayaa) as we know?

He has some control over maya through siddhis, but he will not use it,
unless there's a good reason, like for the good of the world.

>Question 2: If yes, where and in which scriptures is
>there mention of such powers being gained by the

If I am not mistaken, the Brahmasutra has a section where the powers of a
liberated person are described. The liberated person obtains all the powers
of brahman except that of Creation (of the universe). (Actually, I'm not
sure whether this applies only to a person who has attained brahmaloka or to
a jivanmukta also).

>Question 3: If not, does it mean that the braHmavid,
>with his braHmavidyaa, has still to bow to maayaa? And
>hence that we cannot equate the braHmavid to braHma?
>And does that mean a flaw in Advaita?

Certainly, a brahmavid feels pain etc. The only difference is, (s)he knows
that all these feelings are transitory and unreal. When you have a dream,
till you know it is a dream, you experience everything as if it were real.
Once you realise that it is only a dream, you can control some parts of the
dream etc, and you realise that all experiences in the dream are unreal.

When a brahmavid bows to maya, he will do so as a surrender to the power of
Ishvara at the vyavaharika level.

Sruti smRti purANAnAm Alayam karuNAlayam
namAmi bhagavatpAda Sam.karam lokaSam.karam


>From  Thu Aug 15 09:15:01 2002
Message-Id: <THU.15.AUG.2002.091501.0700.>
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 09:15:01 -0700
Reply-To: venky at oreka.com
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: "Venkatesh ." <venky at OREKA.COM>
Subject: Weekly page from Hindu Dharma: Mimansa and Adi Sankara

This week's page from Hindu Dharma (see note at bottom) is "Mimansa and Adi Sankara" from "Mimamasa - Karmamarga". The original page can be found at http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part12/chap7.htm.

Next week, you will be emailed "Determining the Meaning of Vedic Texts" (from "Mimamasa - Karmamarga")

Best regards
for kamakoti.org

(this email is being sent on an automated basis)

Mimansa and Adi Sankara
from Mimamasa - Karmamarga, Hindu Dharma

      As we have already seen, Udayana and other supporters of the Nyaya system criticised BUddhism on the score that it was silent on the question of God, while mimamsakas like Kumarilabhatta attacked the same because it did not favour Vedic rituals. The acarya was in sympathy with these views and believed that Vedic sacraments, considered all-important by the mimamsakas were essential to the cleansing of the mind and to the proper conduct of the affairs of the community. However, he was opposed to the mimamsakas not only because they did not accept an entity like Isvara as the dispenser of the fruits of our actions but also because they did not believe that, after being rendered pure by works, there is any need for one to go further and take the path of jnana. He also did not agree with their view that to become a sanyasin giving up all karma is not right.

 Kumarilabhatta and Mandanamisra are particularly important among the mimamsakas. The Acarya had a debate with Kumarilabhatta during the last days of that mimamsaka and won him over to his viewpoint. Similarly, Mandanamisra also became a convert to Advaita Vedanta and came to be one of the Acarya's chief disciples assuming the of Suresvaracarya.

 If the Acarya opposed Mimamsa, which is one of the fourteen branches of Vedic lore, it was not because he thought it to be wholly unacceptable. He was in agreement with the sacraments dealt with in that system, but he differed from it on the question of devotion to the Lord. He further believed that the fruits yielded by the rites, rewards like paradise, must be dedicated to Isvara and that in this very act of renunciation the mind is purified. Sankara's teaching is this: it is only if we realise that Isvara is the Phala-data, the one who awards the fruits of our actions, that we will not be tempted by petty rewards like paradise. Only then will we be inspired to go beyond to attain the higher reward of inner purity. The Vedic works were wholly acceptable to our Acarya. But for the mimamsakas they were an end in themselves; they did not transcend them to become devoted to the Supreme Godhead and to acquire jnana, the final realisation that Isvara and we are one and the same. !
Sankara criticised mimamsakas for their failure to understand this truth. That he did not oppose Vedic karma is proved again by the fact that in his upadesa 9teaching) -it is called Sopana-Panchaka- before giving up his body he made the admonishment that the Vedas must be chanted every day and that the rites mentioned in them must be performed.

 Vedo nityam adhiyatam

 Taduditam karma svanushtiyatham

 The Acarya, however, taught us not to stop with karma (performed for the sake of karma), but to go beyond it. The rites that we conduct must be made an offering to Isvara. This is a means of obtaining inner purity and also that of receiving instuction in jnana. That is the time when we must give up all karma to meditate upon the teaching we have received, indeed meditate on it with intensity and make it our inner experiential reality. Sankara takes us, step by step, in this way to final release. He opposed the mimamsakas because they failed to understand the purpose of Vedic karma and refused to go beyond it.

 We must accept the Mimamsa system's interpretation of the Vedas, especially because it surrenders wholly to the "Sabda-pramana", the sound of the Vedas, its authority, and it is in this spirit that it has understood the meaning of the scripture. An interesting thought occurs to me. Mimamsa does not surrender to a perceptible God nor seek to understand his form. Does that matter? The Vedas themselves constitute a great deity. The sound of the Vedas does not take the form of a deity that can be seen with our eyes but one that can be percieved with our ears. Let us perform the works that that sound bids us to do without asking questions. Such an act implies an attitude of surrender and it is in this spirit that the mimamsakas have determined the meaning of the Vedas. So whether or not they belived in a tangible God, they knew the God that could be grasped by the ears. (that is thay had a good understanding of the meaning of the Vedas).

Hindu Dharma is a translation of two volumes of the well known Tamil Book "Deivatthin Kural", which, in turn, is a book of 6 volumes that contains talks of His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji of Kanchipuram. The entire book is available online at http://www.kamakoti.org/ .

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