[Advaita-l] Advaita Manjari - post 1

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 20 07:38:14 CST 2003

First Little Background:

Shree Krishna K. had asked me to respond to some of the questions he
raised with respect to Advaita concepts. I promised to respond but could
not find enough time to write it down.  This is almost a year ago. I
even forgot what the original questions were that he posed.  Meanwhile
our friend Jay N. kept pouring mails after mails in Advaitin and
AdvaitaL lists and now in Vaadaavali list of his interpretation of
Advaita from his dvaita books and from his learning of Shree
Vidyaaranya’s book. If he wants to criticize Advaita,  I had advised him
first to read original Shankara works.  I do get the impression that he
does not really want to learn but wants to continue his criticism of
Advaita based on what he has learned. That is why I gave up responding
directly to his mails.  Shree Vidya Sundareshan in AdviataL list has
tried to correct him.  I and Jay N. had exchanged many mails in the
past.  He is a great puzzle to me – his latest mail asking me to show
where he misquoted Advaita is like asking what is the relation between
Seeta and Rama after listening to whole Ramayana. One of course can
interpret it as deep philosophical question pertaining to
jiiva-paramaatma sambandha.  If anyone is really interested one can go
back to archives of Advaitin and AdvaitaL lists to see the exchanges of
Jay N and the responders. 

I do not claim myself as an expert of either Advaita Philosophy or
shaastra-s.  What is presented is only my understanding of Advaita and
is in response to the what I believe is the misinterpretation of
Advaita.  Due to time constraints I will only respond to any comments or
questions if it helps to clarify what I have written.  The rest I leave
it to the questioners to think deeply either to accept it or reject it. 
A friend of mine from the list also has warned me that one can wake up a
person who is sleeping but one cannot wake up person who is pretending
to sleep.  I realize that the statement applies equally to me.  I am
posting this not only to Vaadaavali list but to Advaitin and AdviataL
lists since some of the experts in that list can correct me if I am
wrong. For many, the write-up may be very elementary.  I will try to
post in small segments.   

Some segments of the write-up I posted to my friends to correct my
English, but since they are all too busy, I decided to post whatever I
have written. The write up is not complete and hopefully it will evolve
into better versions as I keep posting the segments in sequence.  I
thank my teachers, as well as many friends from the lists particularly
Shree Vidya Sundareshan and Shree Anand H. who clarified some of the
concepts of Advaita through their posts.  My thanks also to Shreeman
S.M.S. Chari maama for clarifying the VishishTaadvaita concepts.  



                             Advaita Manjari 
                                (post 1)

                              K. Sadananda
                 (Disciple of H.H. Swami Chinmayanandaji)

       Shree Krishna Paramaatmane namaH! Shree gurubhyonamaH|

Many questions were raised in the past in the internet lists - Advaitin,
AdviataL and Vaadaavali lists - in relation to advaitic understanding of
the nature of the reality, moksha and means of attaining it, shaastra as
pramaaNa, samanvaya, questions about saakshee, valid knowledge,
validation process, paroksha and aparoksha j~naana, apourusheya of
veda-s, perception of objects, visheshaNa and visheshya, lakshNa,
knower-known-knowledge, prama-bhrama and pramaaNa, khyaati vaada-s,
anirvachniiyam aspect of Advaita, avidya (bhaava or abhaava), Brahman
with or without attributes, lower and higher nature of Brahman, and many
others. Many of them are seemingly unrelated, but deeper analysis shows
that they have some relevance in understanding the nature of reality. 
In Indian philosophy, it has been well recognized that epistemological
and ontological issues are intimately connected.  Some of the topics
will be discussed based on my understanding of these terms.  The topics
are addressed not necessarily in any particular order, but perhaps will
evolve into some order as we proceed to address the issues involved. 
The goal is to relate the apparently unrelated concepts and unite them
as a garland of flowers, using the fundamental concepts of Advaita.
Hence this article is titled as Advaita Manjari, a garland of flowers,
in adoration of my teacher, H.H. Swami Chinmayanandaji, who taught me
everything that I know, with abundant love. 

Samanvaya: Sumanvaya means consistency.  Human intellect looks for
consistency, and therefore cannot accept that which is not consistent. 
Emotional mind can accept different degrees of inconsistencies depending
on the degree of blockage (or dullness) of that intellect.  In many
cases, a human intellect due to its limitations cannot see clearly the
consistency or even inconsistency in the statements, because of
emotional attachments, sometimes even intellectual attachment to a
particular philosophy.  However, as it becomes sharper or subtler, it
gains more discriminative power to detect and to detest inconsistencies
in life as well as in the experiences gained.  Religion is actually
addressed to that intellect that detests inconsistencies in life, when
that intellect starts to examine its life experiences. Mundaka Up. says
– “pariiksha lokaan karma chitaan brahmaano .....” –It says,  a seeker
after critically examining all his life-time experiences comes to a
conclusion that any action or any series of actions are not consistent
with the solution to the fundamental problem that he is facing in his
life.  After critically examining all the accomplishments that one has
gained throughout his life, he recognizes that one cannot gain through
action moksha, which is unlimited and eternal.  Once he recognizes the
inconsistency in terms of goal versus the effort, scripture advises him
that he should go in search of a teacher who can guide him to achieve
that ultimate goal of life.  In Brahmasuutra-s, suutras 4 says ‘tattu
samanvayaat’, declaring that vedaanta is self-consistent and teaches
about ‘Brahman’ which cannot be known otherwise. In this article,
‘samanvaya’ is used in a more general sense with the hope to establish a
high degree of self-consistency in all the concepts.  I am going to use
the term in more general sense and  not necessarily in the narrow
definition of consistency of statements of prastaanatraya. The three
philosophies – Adviata, VishishhTadvaita and dvaita provide
self-consistent models based on the Vedic statements while finding fault
with each other.  There are books and books available in each philosophy
criticizing other models while establishing the supremacy of theirs. I
will not present that kind of discussion here since my purpose is only
clarification of any misunderstandings of Advaita from my perspective,
and occasionally present criticism of some concepts that do not seem to
be consistent with current understanding of the nature of the world -
that too from my persepctive.

Samanvya therefore is interpretation of the scriputral texts as well as
the scietific and/or logical analysis of the world or obejcts, and our
experiences in a self-consistent way that a human mind can appreciate
and evolve - recongnizing very well that the hightest reality is beyond
the human comprehension.  Even this apect has to be consistent, for a
human mind to accept. Since we are at an age where relatavistic nature
of the universe is becoming increasingly evident through scientific
analysis, the scriptural interpretations should be consistent with the
objective knowledge of the world, while pointing something beyond the
objective nature of the world. We will try to approach the subject from
this persective.

What you have is His gift to you and what you do with what you have is your gift to Him - Swami Chinmayananda.

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