Practice in advaita Vedanta (was Re: [Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 6, Issue 3 the origin of Evil)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at
Sun Nov 9 17:28:29 CST 2003

--- "N.Seshan" <seshan at> wrote:

> 1) If creation has no error, is it that the product of creation has
> an
> innate error?

Neither creation nor the product of creation has an "innate" error.

There are two important creation theories in advaita --
"shR^ishhTi-dR^ishhTi vAda" or "creation before perception", which
speaks of creation as an act of the Lord, and "dR^ishhTi-shR^ishhTi
vAda" or "perception before creation", according to which creation is
likened to a dream of the Self. 

Ramana Maharshi was speaking from the standpoint of the latter theory,
according to which the "perception of creation" is itself the product
of error. When he said, "Creation simply is. There is no error in
creation, the error is in us", he meant, "Leave creation alone, for you
will not find error in it. Find the Self and root out the ultimate

> 3) Ok, one way of arguing around the same could be to say that
> good/evil are
> attributes that we construct, but if
>      no such constructs are actually needed, what is the status of
> the
> smriti texts?

I don't understand this question. 

> 4) It is ok to say the same from a stand where one is already
> enlightened,
> but if u look from the point of view of a person who is not so, he
> has to
> see some standard/ norm? Dont u think it is a dangerous statement for
> no
> evil/good  in reality?

Shankara speaks of two paths:

1) Karma mArga or the Path of Action:
   Moral agent --> Moral action --> Moral development 

A Moral agent is one who can act and can distinguish right from wrong.
Moral action refers to the dutiful practice of right action (dharma),
according to principles of shruti, smR^iti and shishhTAchAra. Moral
development is the development of qualities such as self-restraint,
calmness, forbearance, etc. 

2) GYAna mArga or the Path of Wisdom:
   Moral Development --> Study of Vedanta --> GYAna

Therefore, only one who has attained Moral development is eligible to
study Vedanta. Such a person has already undergone a firm grounding in
dharma in the past, so there is no "danger" of him slipping into evil

> 5) If error/evil are the constructs of mind alone and its thoughts or
> standards, what happens to a mentally retarded person who is not
> possibly
> able to have any such thought/social constructs? Does he come
> equivalent to
> enlightenment?

See above. A mentally retarded person or an infant or an animal does
not have the ability to distinguish right from wrong, and so is not
culpable for his/her actions. They cannot attain moral development and
so are quite far away from enlightenment. 

> Pardon these possibly absurd questions, but let us set things right.
> Speaking from the highest pedestal is all right, but the umpteen
> humans are
> much below Ramana's state. At times, I do feel Ramana being quoted as
> example for everything is injudicious bcos he is an exception rather
> than
> the rule... no guru, no traditional learning, etc

Ramana Maharshi has emphatically said, "Everyone needs a Guru and I was
no exception. My Guru was Arunachala." 

> Rgds/Seshan


>  Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] The origin of evil
> To: advaita-l <advaita-l at>
> Message-ID: <20031023223359.38110.qmail at>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> --- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at> wrote:
> [..]
> > * The creator (Prajapati or Hiranyagarbha) first made a mental
> > creation
> >   (manasika srshti)  which was pure but failed to flourish so he
> made
> >   woman and united with her to create all the living things through
> >   intercourse.  (Maithuna srshti)  As the female was technically
> His
> >   daughter, this was incest and because the act of creation was
> > morally
> >   flawed, so was the result.  Such a story is mentioned in the
> > earliest
> >   Vedic texts.
> >
> I think arguing that creation is flawed is essentially accepting that
> the ultimate Creator Himself is flawed. Of course, Brahma the creator
> is not worshipped for the sake of salvation in Hinduism, but the
> "ultimate creator" is Brahman Itself. If creation by Brahman is seen
> as
> a flaw, then there being "nothing else" to blame for this flaw, the
> blame would fall on Brahman.
> That's why in Christianity, typically creation is seen as perfect and
> good, but Man somehow "made a mistake". It has never been
> satisfactorily explained how God, a being who is incapable of error,
> can create a being (Man) who is capable of error. Hume with his
> "problem of evil" was attacking this fundamental notion.
> Ramana Maharshi was asked, "Perhaps there was an error in creation?"
> to
> which he replied, "There is no error in creation, the error is in
> us."
> Another time, He said, "Creation is neither good nor bad; it is as it
> is. It is the human mind which puts all sorts of constructions on it,
> seeing things from its own angle and interpreting them to suit its
> own
> interests."
> -Kartik
> PS: Shankara also handles this problem in his Brahma sUtra bhAshhya,
> I'll try and post it soon.
>  =====
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