[Advaita-l] A Strategy for Discussion on the Soundaryalahari Digest

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Aug 22 00:45:45 CDT 2003

On Thu, 21 Aug 2003, V. Krishnamurthy wrote:

> Namaste.
> While I thank several of the members who have personally written
> to me encouraging words of appreciation, I have yet to reply to
> some who have raised a few legitimate questions.  Some of the
> questions raised are:
> 1.	Is Shankara the author of Soundaryalahari?

Modern historians would say no for similiar reasons they would say no to
his authorship of vivekachudamani.  But as we have seen such reasons are
often on very shaky ground.  At least with the VC there are other works on
the same topic for comparison,  With SL we don't even have that much to go
on.  Tradition is unanimous in regarding Shankaracharya as a master of
Shrividya as well as Advaita Vedanta.  We know other schools of Tantric
thought have monistic tendancies.  We know around the era when it is
surmised Shankaracharya lived, Tantrism had thoroughly permeated
Buddhism and other sects.  So it is reasonable to accept the traditional
view.  But doe we have proof? no.

> 2.	Is the Paramacharya trying to please everybody?

Yes and why not?  Advaita Vedanta isn't just an interesting theory,
it is supposed to be the practical path to relive suffering caused by
samsara.  So it has to be able to speak to different people on a level
appropriate for them.  That doesn't mean all the levels are the same and
the sadhaka does not have to make sacrifices to move to higher levels. But
I don't think the acharya is saying that.

> 3.	The ‘definition’ of truth given in DPDS – 08 is not
> acceptable.

It is a pragmatic one.  Remember that sat means existence as well as
truth.  That which moves people away from illusion towards the real is
also truth.  Perhaps it is a provisional truth which must be later
replaced by a more rigorous definition but it is what is needed as the
first step.

> 4.	How can Brahman have a ‘Desire’?

It is explained in the Brhadaranyakopanishad that Brahman in saguna form
became aware of Himself but misunderstood the nature of self and became
lonely and afraid and so decided "let there be a second" and creation took
place.  We can chart the progression like this:

Ignorance -> fear -> desire -> duality

> 5.	Is Soundaryalahari an advaitic work or a religious piece of
> devotion?

It is both.  Or rather both terms refer to the same thing.  I think there
are some hidden assumptions in the mindof the questoner.

> 6.	Shall we conclude that the Paramacharya  relies on blind
> faith rather than logic?

It should be obvious that he relies on both, indeed regards them as
complementary.  (And what is so blind about faith anyway?)

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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