[Advaita-l] Re: Saguna brahman and iswara

drganesh at vsnl.com drganesh at vsnl.com
Wed Feb 25 06:20:24 CST 2004

Sankara and Iswara
Michael coman’s book, titled ‘The method of early advaita vedanta’ is a well written comparitive study between gaudapada,sankara,sureswara and padmapada. Unlike other western authors, Michael comans learned under a traditional guru- Swami dayanand saraswati as a resident student. The author combines close textual scholarship with the perspective of an acharya within the tradition of Advaita. I shall quote certain passages Regarding our discussion on saguna iswara and sankara.

“When Sankara distinguishes between Iswara and the absolute Brahman, Iswara would have to be considered as Saguna Brahman. However in the contexts where Sankara uses the terms Brahman, paramatman, parameswara, and iswara interchangeably, saguna Brahman would then be generally Hiranyagarbha-Brahma rather than iswara per se. Different hypothesis can plausibly be put forward, as to why sankara often uses these terms interchangeably in his brahmasutrabhasya. I suggest a philosophical reason; he often does not make the distinction explicit, in the same way as the Upanisad often does not do so, because for him param Brahman and iswara are not two distinct things, they are in fact one and the same being. When everything has the single ‘eye of awareness’[pragnanetra, AU 3.1.3], a division of ‘ruler and ruled’ can no longer be found.
Sankara’s interchangeable usage of the four terms can at times be confusing but his perspective is more fluid, and can perhaps better accommodate the aspirations of religiosity, than the more rigid definitions of some of his successors. We could speak of param Brahman as having a lower aspect, i.e, iswara, or, we could speak of Iswara as having a higher aspect, and since iswara has two aspects, the iswaratwa and param Brahman, Sankara can and does use the word Iswara to either aspect”. As in his sootra bhasya 1.1.20 also in 1.3.19 etc. 


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From: advaita-l-request at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 10:30 pm
Subject: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 10, Issue 17

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