Neti Yoga

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sat Sep 21 22:24:08 CDT 2002

[Another message from a conversation that's taking place off the list.]

On Wed, 18 Sep 2002, Ashish Chandra wrote:

> Yes you are right - most of the time we do use Advaita as a noun. For
> example, the most widely accepted implication of the word Advaita is the
> term Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara.

If the meaning of a word is widely accepted (and by now I think we all
agree that inthis case it is) than the person who uses it differently is
misusing it.   Or at the very least they have to justify the divergent

> However, when someone uses the word Advaita, it does not automatically imply
> Vedanta,

But you just said it is the popular and accepted meaning.  It actually
takes effort to disassociate it with that meaning.

> like the example I used i.e. Brahman is Advaita (non-dual). Instead
> of the word Brahman, I could use the pronoun (neuter gender) It, saying "It
> is Advaita". Here, the usage of the adjective Advaita depends entirely on
> the context and the word Vedanta should not be automatically assumed.

For that matter 'it' in that sentence also refers to Brahman.  but it
cannot be automatically assumed either.  Only the juxtaposition of it and
advaita in the particular grammatical form of a sentence gives you a clue
that Brahman is being talked about.  How did that juxtaposition arise?
>From previous knowledge.  Where did you (or whoever taught you) learn that
knowledge?  Advaita Vedanta.

> However, where I am in
> disagreement with Jaldhar, and perhaps others who supports his line, is that
> an adjective in and of itself is nothing. The example you used was "Red is
> running" to mean "Red Horse is running". Here the word Red implies nothing -
> it could mean a "Red Dog is running" or "Red Man is running" etc. Redness is
> a property (guna) I guess and does not indicate anything beyond the fact
> that it is present in the object being referred to. The word Red itself
> tells us nothing about the object it qualifies other than the fact that the
> property of being red is percieved in the object being so qualified.

Yes but how is this relevant to the way language is actually used?  What
Srikrishna is saying is that when the word Red is heard the horse is
automatically assumed in the mind of the listener. Here are some other
examples.  Pavaka means purifier.  It is a name for Agni.  Even though it
could refer to other things i.e. cow dung or Ganga jal which are
purifiers, anyone who knows Sanskrit will know without ambiguity that it
is Agni which is being referred to. Vipra literally means sage.  But it is
invariably used to mean Brahmana regardless of whether he is actually a
sage or not.  When I talk to Ashish.  I know I am talking about a person,
not the abstract concept of blessing.  When we say Advaita it is
understood that Advaita Vedanta is being referred to.

So context is important and owing to its' nature runs the risk of
misinterpretation.  That's why to be precise and not confuse the ignorant
we should say Advaita Vedanta instead of abbreviating it.  But just
because misinterpretation is possible doesn't mean we have to consider it
valid in any way.  Just as if someone thinks Pavaka means Vayu, we don't
have to consider that an alternative interpretation just a sign of

> Why I say Advaita used alone signifies Brahman is because of this: Cowness
> is a property that uniquely identifies a cow. Although Cowness is a
> property, it is not found in any other animal, e.g. a horse, dog, cat etc.
> We cannot identify a cow simply by saying it has vegetarian-ness,
> animal-ness, four-legged-ness etc. although each of these is present in a
> cow. What uniquely identifies a cow is the property of being a cow -
> Cowness. Similarly, the word Advaita, being an adjective, means non-dual,
> blemishless etc. Although it is used with the word Advaita Vedanta to mean
> Adi Shankara's school, it is used in the sense that "this school of Vedanta,
> which are the Upanishads, teaches that Brahman is Advaita". I say this
> because the term Dvaita Vedanta also exists. If Dvaita and Advaita are both
> used for the word Vedanta and imply it (like you have pointed out i.e.
> Advaita implies Advaita Vedanta), the we have an issue.

Only if we assume Vedanta is one thing.  If one mother names her son
Jaldhar and another names her son Ashish we don't have a problem because
we know that the class son  has multiple members.  They are both justified
in saying "hey son come here." without confusion as to what they are
refering to.

So why does Vedanta refer to multiple things and Advaita to only one?
Historical reasons.  We can see that right from the beginning there have
been multiple interpretations of Vedanta.  We can only see one
interpretation of Advaita which is  still continuing to the present day.

> So the usage of the words Advaita and Dvaita are dependent on the word that
> they qualify i.e. Vedanta, for us to get the complete meaning of what is
> intended.
> Dvaita Vedanta: Doctrine concluding the teachings of Vedanta conclude a
> duality in Brahman
> Advaita Vedanta: Doctrine concluding the teachings of Vedanta conclude
> non-duality in Brahman
> Now it becomes clear what these terms mean. However, the key word is that
> Advaita and Dvaita do not *imply* anything.

Yet if on advaita-l someone mentioned dvaita, it would be instantly
understood they were talking about the philosophy of Ananda Tirth not say,

> But here is where I added my own observation, which you are free to disagree
> with, that taking into account words like "Aham Brahmasmi", "Ekameva
> Advitiyam" which are found in Upanishads, the word Advaita *when used
> alone*, meaning non-dual, as a qualification, can truly exist in Brahman
> only. So if anything, Advaita (non-dual) could only mean Brahman as only
> Brahman has advayatva - the property of being non-dual (Here I am using the
> word property for Brahman when we know He has no such thing, so it is used
> as an example only and not in the strictest sense).
> But, Advaita used alone implies Brahman, in my opinion, because the property
> indicated by this word, i.e. advayatva (the property of being non-dual)
> exists only in Brahman.

You answered this one yourself.  Strictly speaking Brahman has no
properties.  So when we ascribe them it is on a slightly lower level of
reality.  Now at this level we *can* assume duality. In fact we must or we
cannot assign properties.  It is at this level we employ advaita and that
is why it has the roundabout name of not-two.  Even the Buddhist scholar
you sent the link about wondered why it isn't called something more
straightforward like ekavastuvada.  Not-two only makes sense when there is
two.  So advaitam (not advaita) is never used alone but only in a context
where duality can be negated.  Each of the mahavakyas occur after the
shishya has been led through an exhaustive investigation of what is not
real first.

> However, what if a Dvaitavaadin makes the claim Dvaita also implies Brahman.

He wouldn't make that claim.  He believes Brahman is one but the jiva is
another.  That's totally different.

> >
> >
> > The only question is if "Advaita Vedanta" with the
> > tenets of Jiva Brahmaika Ikyam, j~nAna, j~nEya,
> > j~nAtru abhedatvam, whole visible universe being the
> > manifestation of Brahman and not separate from Brahman
> > -  was known and expounded before Acharya Sankara or
> > not. Though these are derived from the Vedas which are
> > eternal, was it understood in the same light before
> > Acharya Sankara.
> >
> Yes and very much so. Even the Advaita Vedanta Parampara traces back to Lord
> Narayana, then Sanandana, Maharishi Vashishtha and others. The teaching is
> Sanatan, like our Dharma, but the formality and the clear distinction that
> exists in Advaita Vedanta of today is only because of Jagadguru Adi
> Shankaracharya.

And it is that formality and clarity which counts.  Other kinds of
Vedantins also claim their descent from Shri Narayana, Upanishadic Rshis
such as Yajnavalkya etc. as their own.  we can claim and counter-claim but
we really can't prove it either way.  It's only with Gaudapadacharya and
Shankaracharya that we can really establish Advaita parampara on a
historical footing.  I've also given the names of a few earlier advaitins
on advaita-l but their particular parampara no longer exists except
through Shankaracharya.  If others were able to grasp Advaitic teachings
however poorly it has been due to Shankaracharya.  Else we would be able
to trace their ideas through history.  We can't.

> Here is where one has to bear in mind the ground reality in India.

It is a ground reality in Manipur that some of the adivasis are "Jewish"
It doesn't mean a thing.

> There are
> several thousand yogis and jivanmuktas who live outside the glare of
> society, doing their work at a differnt level and plane. To offer the
> argument that their establishment in Brahman is any less than
> Shankaracharya's is sheer ignorance.

To say it is the same or maybe more is equally sheer ignorance.  The fact
is you don't know one way or another.  so the next best thing is to
compare with a known jivanmukta and see if the person comes up to that
standard or not.  Given that Shankaracharya has given the most complete
and doubt-free description of the goal, he is more useful as a guide than
anyone else.

> These mahatmas do not write any books
> or expound philosophies to be taught in a fixed disciplic tradition.

But if they are using words like jivanamukta, it's a dead giveaway that
they have been exposed to Shankaran tradition because jivanamukta is not
an everyday word but a technical jargon of Advaita Vedanta.

> they have their ways and this is how it has always been in India.

No it hasn't.  It can be easily demonstrated that the need to identify the
teachings of saints with Advaita Vedanta is a fairly recent phenomenon.

For instance Shirdi Sai Baba never used Advaita terminology.  In fact the
presentation ofis ideas owes a lot to Islam.  Satya Sai Baba didn't used
to talk much about such things.  My mother who first met him in the 1960's
before he was that famous doesn't consider his Ideas to be similar to
Advaita Vedanta at all.  But now some people are claiming him as an
Advaita teacher.

A plausible explanation of this is sociological.  The kind of people who
followed sants and Babajis were mainly rural and ignorant.  Now that they
are moving up in the world, they suddenly feel their beliefs are not
'respectable" enough.  As Advaita Vedanta has tremendous prestige, a good
way to upgrade yourself image is to identify with it.  This is the same
process that the Bengali intelligensia went through in regard to Western
culture in the 19th century.  And both groups, like the Jewish adivasis of
Manipur not only believe they are in the prestigious group but refuse to
believe they were anything other than in that group.

This is why if we view ourselves as followers of truth and enemies of
delusion, we shouldn't let "my guru said" be the end of discussion but the
beginning of it.  And we should use all the means at our disposal,
shastras, logic, science history etc. to be as rigorous and exact as

>  They deal
> directly with people, raising the latter's level and bringing them closer to
> God. This is not just some belief in a mystical thing - it is ground
> reality. If you are to go into the villages of Himalayas, belief in the
> saints is a household story. They may not have heard of Adi Shankaracharya's
> philosophy but they have firm belief in these saints.

I never said the saints aren't raising people up. They just aren't raising
them all the way.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -
>From ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG Sun Sep 22 10:21:52 2002
Message-Id: <SUN.22.SEP.2002.102152.0400.ADVAITAL at LISTS.ADVAITAVEDANTA.ORG>
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 10:21:52 -0400
Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM>
Subject: Re: Seeking private contacts
Comments: To: yogafarm at
In-Reply-To: <25385-3D8C618A-156 at>
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On Sat, 21 Sep 2002, yogafarm wrote:

> My list friends: Though I had requested to be removed from this list, it
> would seem I must not have presented my request properly.

Would it be contentious to mention that instructions for unsubscribing
were in the very first mail you got from the list?  If you can't figure it
out I'll do it for you.  (you will possibly receive one more digest

> I originally joined this list several weeks, ago, in the hopes of
> finding others who, like myself, had lived all aspects of yoga-Vedanta
> for many years

You apparently haven't lived ANY aspect of yoga-vedanta[sic.]

> For myself, after some 30 years on this ancient-most pathway,

We've been treading this path for 3000 years.  While we're airing
resentments, I find more than a tinge of racism in people like you
treating my culture as a blank slate to be scribbled on at will.  I like
to give people the benefit of the doubt but sometimes this has to be said.

> I frankly
> reveal that I have run into some questions I had hoped to discuss (which
> is why I joined this group, in the first place) ... and would STILL like
> to discuss them.  But now only privately; this list, with its daily
> contentiousness and disputation, is obviously not the right place to do
> it.

The record shows that when you actually asked questions, you got
considered answers.  The "contentiousness" started when you started
advocating things which are clearly outside the tenets of Advaita Vedanta.
And those that said you were wrong, didn't do so because they like to
fight or they hated you or because they were jealous of your super yogic
powers but because YOU WERE WRONG.  If you don't want disputation, you'll
have to throw out the upanishads (e.g. Yajnavalkya) most Vedantic works
(Brahmasutrabhashya is full of disputation) even Satya Sai Baba (who has
not hesitated to admonish people or eject them from his ashram.)  but your
definition of contentiousness is "anything that doesn't jibe with Michael
Blates pet theories"  So why look for other people to converse with?  A
nice shiny mirror will do just as well.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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