Sri Nanda Chandran's Question

S. V. Subrahmanian svsubrahmanian at YAHOO.COM
Fri Feb 1 08:07:04 CST 2002

Sri Nanda Chandran,

Now I think I understand what you are trying to say.  If you find the following
analysis faulty, I request you to clarify.

Yes, it might be wrong to refer to Atma in a personal sense, since "I"-ness
cannot be attributed to a "CHOICELESS" awareness (to use JK's terminology for
Atman).  But words have a limitation.  What can a word reveal?  It can only
reveal the following:

jAti vyakti guNa kriya sambandAH ime Sabda vishayAH |

jAti = a species to which an object belongs
vyakti (or vastu) = an object or entity
guNa = an attribute
kriya = an action
sambanda = a relationship

If we analyze any language, they are limited to being able to express only this
much.  But Atman is none of these.  If that is the case, then we really cannot
teach the self-knowledge through words, because you will never be able to use a
word to specify Atman.  Yet, a Guru with word only as his instrument has to
convey the knowledge to the disciple.  How can he do?  He has to rely on
implied meanings, which the disciple in his purity of mind will be able to

Like "Sveto dhAvati" (the white runs).  Here the statement refers not to the
color white, but to a horse that is white in color is implied and has to be
understood by the student.

dR^shyatE tu agrayayA budhyA sukshmayA sUkshma darshibiH  (KaTopanishad)
This knowledge is gained only by those who possess a subtle intellect.

So, when scriptures refer to "YOU" what that "YOU" refers to cannot be
explained in other words, but has to be understood by the student.  And any
other word used in the absence of "YOU" will make the situation worse.  "YOU"
is what we have that is closest to what we want.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati gives the following example:

TAT TWAM ASI =>  It says TAT = TVAM.  If what is TAT is clearly known, if what
is TVAM is clearly known then their identity is easy and it is not an equation
at all.  For example: 5 = 5 is not an equation of idenity, since there is
nothing conveyed.  5's are clear and 5 = 5 is obvious.  But if the equation
were 11 - 6 = 2 + 3, then the apparent difference is obvious, but the implicit
idenitity is not obvious.  That 2 + 3 refers to 5 is something that has to be

In Tatvamasi, "tvam" refers to not any entity that can be pointed to as "YOU",
but still "YOU" is used.  So also when the scriptures use the words "I" and
"YOU" for Atman in a personal sense, that it does not refer to the jiva "I" but
the Atman is a quantum leap to be taken by the STUDENT.

Words can go only thus far.  The only substitute for words is SILENCE, not a
mute absence of sound, but the eternal SILENCE of Sri Dakshinamurthy.  But how
many can understand SILENCE?  Remember, scriptures are for the ignorant!

yatho vacho nivartantE aprApya manasA saha ||

Sri RamaNa Maharshi (RM) alluded to this topic once.  I will try my best to say
what He had said.  If I ask you the question:  "Are you Nanda?"  what answer
can you give?  If you say "I am Nanda", then there is implicit in that
statement the superimposition of the qualities of "Nanda" on "I".  But at the
same time you are "Nanda".  If "I" were really "Nanda", it can never say "I am
Nanda".  So, you will never be able to answer the question "Are you Nanda?".
But still we continue to give answers like "I am Nanda" etc.

--- nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >Vedanta is not equating vyavhAric "I" with paramArthic "I". It only says
> >that the "CONTENT" of vyavahAric "I" is paramArthic "I", just as the sea is
> >the content of the wave.
> That's the reason that in the beginning of the post called "Tat tvam asi?"
> I've already noted the distinction between jiva and the atman. But the
> problem is that though Advaita teaches that the Atman is the essence of the
> "I", still Atman is taught in the personal sense - the best example is the
> adhyaasa theory where it is said that YOU as the pure consciousness
> superimpose on yourself the qualities of objects that you experience. A
> jnaani can say this because he is subjectively paramaartha - but will such a
> theory benefit an aspirant in vyavahaara where the "I" necessarily includes
> the psycho/physical unit?
> Again I quote the great Gaudapaada : "Only he who see the Lord untouched by
> the concepts of Self, not-Self, both or neither is omniscient".


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