[Advaita-l] Some basic questions on Advaita

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 7 20:46:43 CDT 2003

--- Nagarjuna Siddhartha <nagarjunasiddhartha at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Namaste,
> I have some basic questions on advaita.

You should know that though advaita VedAnta is one doctrine, there are
many theories accepted as valid within the framework of advaita. For
instance, one can speak of the waking state as being ontologically same
or different from the dream state, yet ultimately unreal in Brahman.
The former is according to GauDapAda, the latter according to Shankara.

So long as the doctrine is based on the Vedas/VedAnta and fundamentally
holds the following verse from the VedAnta-DiNDima to be true, it can
be said to be advaita VedAnta:

brahma satyaM jaganmithyA jIvo brahmaiva nAparaH . 
jIvanmuktastu tadvidvAn.h iti vedAnta DiNDimaH ..
"Brahman is Truth, the World is False. The jIva is not different from
Brahman. One who knows this is liberated while living, this is the
drum-roll of VedAnta." 

Anand Hudli of this list had posted this a long time ago, and I think
someone said it was endorsed by one of the MaThAdhipatis as being
fundamental to advaita VedAnta. 

Anand Hudli had also quoted MadhUsUdana SarasvatI as saying:
 ... MadhusUdana remarks "shrutitAtparyavishhayI-
 bhUtArthaviruddhaM cha heyamiti shatasha udghoshhitamasmAbhiH|
 tasmAnna kiJNchidetat.h" - " We have proclaimed hundreds of times
 that what is opposed to the purport of the summary of the shruti
 is to be rejected. Therefore, this (divergence of views among
 advaitins in interpreting the shruti) is nothing (significant)."
 Thereby he implies that all these different views are in accordance
 with the conclusions of the shruti.

> 1. Does "tat tvam asi" mean that -
> a. jIva and brahman are identical  ( I - the jIva,
> am brahman )
> b. jIva is unreal while brahman is real ( I am not
> the jIva but I am brahman )
> It seems a) is endorsed by Padmapada while b) is
> endorsed by Suresvara. Is this true? What view does
> Sankara endorse?

You can see that both accept "I am Brahman". It's a question of what
they then mean by "jIva" and "Ishvara". Perhaps they mean two different
entities when they each use the word "jIva"?

> 2. Is Ishwara also a reflection? (cidAbhAsa) 
> 3. Is jIva a reflection of Ishwara or brahman?

I would also like to know the answers to the above questions. 

> 4. Is it necessary for a sAdhaka to acknowledge the
> existence of Ishwara or is it enough if he
> acknowledges brahman?

By "acknowledging the existence of Ishvara" I presume you mean
something like "having faith in God"? 

>From "Day by Day with Bhagavan" by Devaraja Mudaliar, 22-3-46:

Bhagavan: God is of course necessary, for most people. They can go on
with one, till they find out that they and God are not different.

The Swami continued, "In actual practice, sAdhakas, even sincere ones,
sometimes become dejected and lose faith in God. How to restore their
faith? What should we do for them?"

Bhagavan: If one cannot believe in God, it does not matter. I suppose
he believes in himself, in his own existence. Let him find out the
source from which he came.

> 5. Is mAyA the same as avidya or is it different
> from it?

I think there MAY be a technical difference. "avidyA" is generally
taken to be ignorance of the Self. "mAyA" is often seen as the veiling
power of the Ishvara ("The smile of the Lord is mAyA" -- the shrImad

> 6. Is jIva one or many?

Like I said, there are many theories in advaita -- "eka-jIva vAda" and
"bahu-jIva vAda" are two of them. 


Do you Yahoo!?
SBC Yahoo! DSL - Now only $29.95 per month!

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list