Concept of personal God and Advaita

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian balasr at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 23 19:11:01 CDT 2002

--- Stephanie Stean <cerebral_rose at MAC.COM> wrote:
> On 5/22/02 3:28 PM, "Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian"
> <balasr at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
> Dear Rama:
> I don't disagree with anything you've said below.  I
> also realize that
> scripture is considered essential according to many
> of the mystics and sages
> living before us and living now.  But one of my
> personal questions (for
> myself during my life) is "are the scriptures
> NECESSARY (any scriptures for
> that matter) for Realization and why?"

"Scripture" is essential. The reasoning is as follows:

1. There are different means of knowing, i.e.,
2. Each pramANa operates in it own, *exclusive*,
sphere of influence, so to speak.
3. Thus, no pramANa can reveal or contradict what
another pramANa reveals. For example, sha.nkara
repeatedly states that thousands of scriptural
statements cannot make fire cold. If there seems to be
a contradiction between two different pramANa-s, it
has to be resolved noticing the sphere of influence of
the pramANa. For example scripture might say "Fire
speaks". It is absurd to interpret it as fire
speaking, since perception reveals that fire is inert.
The context may show that it is someone with "fire
like" qualities who is speaking.
4. All pramANa-s except scripture, operate within the
range of the mind and the senses. The only pramANa
which talks about what is beyond the mind and speech
is scripture. Hundreds of "perceptual evidences"
cannot contradict what scripture says about brahman
from which "the mind and words turn back" because
non-scriptural evidences operate within the range of
the mind only. In any case, that is moot because in
reality there is no contradiction between scripture
and other pramANa-s because of point 2 (see above)! We
should really say "what perception and others *seem*
to contradict scripture". Also I should point out that
scripture does not "reveal" brahman, but I won't go
into that here.

> I have a question for you.  What are the texts of
> MaNDana and sureshvara
> that explain their views?  Could you tell me the
> titles so that I may look
> them up?

I'll state the views of sureshvara in brief. The role
of perception is to reveal objects. I see a keyboard
and monitor in front of me. Their revelation is
perceptual. However, the "difference between them" is
not. There is no object called "difference". Hence
perception cannot prove difference. The "difference"
between the objects occurs later and is exclusively in
the mind of the perceiver. Thus, "difference" is not
perceptual, but a mental cognition only! Note Advaita
does not deny that this "difference" is empirically
true or a useful distinction to maintain for daily
life. This is what gauDapAda also says in his kArikas.
We fall into a "metaphysical error" by accepting
"difference" as an ontological reality, just because
it is useful in day to day life. That is what I call
"naive" intepretation of our experience. In any case,
refer to gauDapAda kArika, chapter II also. No one can
say it any better than gauDapAda.

References: Please see "Naishhkarmya Siddhi" by
Sureshvara. There are good translations by A.J.Alston
and R.Balasubramanian. Prof Balasubramanian (no
relative of mine) has also translated the
taittirIya-bhAshhya vArttika of Sureshvara. He has a
(long) useful introduction to it. Also refer to the
same authors "A study of Brahma Siddhi", published by
Chowkamba press. Also see the sambandha vArttika of
sureshvara, which has been translated by the late Prof
T.M.P Mahadevan. Hope this helps.

It's impossible to discuss experiences of other
people. Clearly, any experience is useful only for the
person experiencing it. But I'd be happy to
participate in any discussions solidly based on these
advaita texts (or others).


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