Tat tvam asi?

Sankaran Kartik Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Tue Feb 19 11:43:57 CST 2002

On Mon, 18 Feb 2002, nanda chandran wrote:


> >viGYAteryastu viGYAtA sa tvamityuchyate yataH .
> >sa syadanubhavastasya tato.anyo.anubhavo mR^ishhaa .. (2.12.8)
> >
> >"It is the knower of knowledge that is referred to by the word "Thou" in
> >the shruti. The understanding of the term "Thou" in this sense is correct.
> >The other sense different from it is due to superimposition."
> Mere quotations from Shruti are hardly proof enough to substantiate the
> argument that the Self is the "knower" as it is understood in the normal
> sense. Because the fundamental question here would be : how would you know
> that you're interpreting the texts right? For all you know the Upanishads
> might mean one thing when the talk about "knower" and you might be
> interpreting it in some other way.

When Shankara Himself interprets the "Atman" in the shruti as the
"viGYAtA" and says that the "tvam" in the statement "tat tvam asi" ought
to be interpreted in this way ONLY, your interpretations (no matter how
much "deep thought" you put into them) cannot possibly be correct since
they contradict Shruti and Shankara.

> So here is where logic comes into play. As the great Gauda says : "only that
> which is taught by the shruti and proved by reasoning is the truth and
> nothing else".

Of course, GauDapAda said, "That which is supported by *both* shruti and
reason," meaning that if it contradicts either, it cannot be correct.

And Shankara uses nothing but shruti and reason in His Teachings.

> Can there be a knower independent of the known?

Yes. The Knower is ALWAYS independent of the known. The "known object" on
the other hand, cannot exist without the Knower. Welcome to the first
class in Advaita Vedanta.

> Neither experience nor logic can prove it to be so.

True, but logic with the aid of the shruti can -- and does!

> So when the Upanishads say that the Atman is the "knower", they cannot mean
> knower in the normal sense.

You are wrong.

> Note that though I oppose "selfness" to the Atman, I've very clearly said
> that on liberation, you are the Atman where you can clearly say "aham
> brahmaasmi" in a personal sense.

The GYAnI wouldn't care to make such statements about himself. The
mahAvAkyas are for aid in nididhyAsana by sAdhakas of the highest order.

> Understand the subtlety of the issues
> involved.

I was going to say exactly the same thing :-)


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