[Advaita-l] Re: Universe finite or infinite?
Aditya Varun Chadha
adichad at gmail.com
Tue Apr 19 13:38:59 CDT 2005
You yourself have quoted that "puruSa is infinite" and that "the
created universe is only a fraction of puruSa". This is straight from
Sruti, therefore there is no doubt about these two statements.
now the point that remains to be clarified is whether being "a part of
something infinite" inherantly implies being "finite" or whether it is
"possible" for "a part of infinity" to be "infinite".
Apart from the repeated examples of parts of infinity being infinite
from pratyakSa pramANa that you have been "respecting as opinion", you
have expressed the "opinion" that "1/4th of infinity cannot be
infinite because as soon as we attach numbers and fractions to
anything, we are implying its finiteness". It is this very opinion of
yours which I am doubtful about. Note that I am not asserting that the
created universe is infinite. I am just asserting that "a part of
infinity" CAN POSSIBLY be infinite (not that it necessarily is, but
that it MAY be).
One argument that although is not a direct quote from Sruti, but is
definitely derived from the advaita-based interpretation of Sruti is
Consider Krishna's statement that the whole universe is only a
fraction of Him. Now, would it make sense for Arjuna to ask, "then
show me which part of you is the universe" or "show me which part of
you is NOT the created universe"? Sruti itself says that this is not
possible to do (Tat Tvam Asi, Brahmoasmi, etc.), that it is absurd to
ask for a breakdown of brAhmaN into parts like created universe and
the rest of brAhmaN.
Now, if the universe was finite, it would be a straightforward task to
identify that "part" of Krishna or brAhmaN which is the created
universe (since that part is finite). But that belies the concept of
brAhmaN itself, because it is said to be indivisible, i.e. the ONLY
thing that exists. In the Upanishads (Sruti) this is a central theme.
Please note that "A is a part of B" recognizes the existance of two
entities, A and B. Thus in fact, if we assume puruSa or brAhmaN to be
infinite, and propound the created universe to be finite, we are
recognizing them as two seperate entities, which is contradictory to
the specific teachings of advaita.
You talk about the impossibility of salvation through worship of
prakruti. This I agree with completely, but again you are missing the
point. The point is that although Divine is infinite, and prakruti is
only a part of it, assuming that prakruti is also infinite does not
mean that it has to be the same as Divine. Prakruti can be an
"incomplete" part of brAhmaN, and yet still be infinite. the criterion
for salvation is not the "infinity" of the object of our worship. the
criterion is its ultimate identity with brAhmaN, which prakruti by
itself fails to satisfy, and therefore it is not possible to attain
salvation through prakruti worship alone. i.e. prakruti may be smaller
than brAhmaN but may still be infinite, and since it is not the
complete brAhmaN, it cannot provide salvation.
I do agree that to an observer bound by the manifest nature of our
created universe, it is hard if not impossible to see things in light
of perfect non-dualism, but vedanta cries repeatedly that the ultimate
knowledge is in fact in this identity, in "Tat Tvam Asi", so if your
question is that "to the human mind is the universe finite or
infinite" then ofcourse it is a matter of opinion alone. but if your
question pertains to the truth of the matter, our knowledge is
inconclusive (it may be finite, or infinite). But definitely, the
statement that "something that is only a part of infinity must be
finite" has serious flaws in it, both logical and based on Sruti (for
example you do concede that puruSa is infinite, although it is only
the manifest "part" of brAhmaN).
I am not arguing that the universe is infinite, I am arguing that the
evidence within Sruti is inconclusive about its finiteness or
infiniteness. This is a crucial point I wish to make, that it is not
NECESSARILY true that anything that is part of infinity is finite.
There are some things that are finite which are part of infinite
things, and there are some infinite things that are part of other
Please at least try to go through what I have written by applying
logical analysis along with Sruti quotes. Being able to cite
quotations at the drop of a hat is not necessarily a sign of
understanding or authority. One must link together these isolated
facts into a coherent, logical thesis to be able to claim validity.
for example, if you say that "attaching a fraction to anything shows
its finiteness", you must be able to support it using logic and/or
facts from Sruti/pratakSa etc. For my side of the argument, that there
EXIST things that are infinite and yet are only a part of other
infinite things, is supported by the presentation of one such thing
(my rational/real set example). for a more non-mathematical or
scripture based example, think about brAhmaN and puruSa. Both are
infinite, yet puruSa is only the manifest part of brAhmaN.
Surely, today we wouldn't even regard great souls like Sankara with
respect unless their writings illustrated their great clarity and
logical mindset with which they were able to extract the essence of
something as complex as vedAnta. Unless we apply our own thinking in
addition to recitation, we don't gain much.
I think one crucial point of difference in opinion is that you are
EQUATING infinity with brAhmaN-hood or Ultimate Divinity. I am trying
to show that infinity and divinity are two different concepts. I am
trying to show that although one of the properties of brAhmaN is that
it is infinite, being infinite is not sufficient for being brAhmaN.
On 4/19/05, ramesh badisa <badisa66 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> "we can not postulate *finiteness* to the universe, since for an advaitin, it is quite absurd to think that there is a thing called *finite universe* apart from infinite parabrahman"
> Badisa: Rig Ved 10.90.3 says that created universe is only a fraction of "purusha". Similarly, Lord Krishna says that whole universe is only a fraction of him (10/42). Then why do you think it would be an absurd? It would be absurd if we think than finite universe is apart from infinite parabrahman. I never said that that finite universe is apart from divine. All I said is that finite universe is only "a part" – a fraction (not apart) of divine. We all understand the subtle difference between "a part" and "apart". If we accept "a part" based on the above references, then there is no absurdity. Now, one may say that since divine is infinite, and since created universe is also a part of it, then the created universe should also be infinite on the grounds that a part of infinity is also infinity. If this argument is valid, then worshipping of prakruti should also lead us to salvation. Because, created universe is prakruti. If universe is infinite, then prakruti is also infinite
> as per
> the same above assumption, and worshipping a part of it should also be equal to worshipping of whole, and thus it should lead one to salvation. But this is not possible based on Isha. Up. 12 mantra. Thus, the above assumption is not valid.
> "If we say universe is finite & brahman is infinite, the very infiniteness of brahman does get affected & becomes *finite* only coz. this excludes the another finite thing universe!!"
> Badisa: The whole creation is a part of purusha, based on the above references. Thus, we are not excluding the finite universe from purusha.
> "For exmp. if you take praSnOpanishad it says with regard to creation HE created life,"
> Badisa: Description on creation is mentioned in Pras. Up. 1.4 onwards. The term prjapati means creator or hiranya garbha or saguna Brahman.
> "If you take AitarEya shruti it gives some other account :There is Atman alone in the beginning & nothing else neither sentient nor non-sentient.Then He thought (!!??) let me create the worlds & he created these worlds etc Similarly, in from life ether, light,water, earth, senses, mind, food etc. will eminate. In continuation it further says, from food this world emanated & in world nAma etc. "
> Badisa: This up. also talks of the same creation and the same creator, and does not say in any different way. For example, before creation, the atma alone is present. Who is this atma? Since this atma here is concerned with creation, it is the divine, a saguna Brahman. Before creation nothing is present as every thing else is merged temporarily during the nighttime of the creator (Gita 8/18, 19 & 9/7, 8). Based on the absence of such terms like water, light, air etc, we cannot say that this Upanishad is saying different from previous sruti text. At any rate, the terms, mind, senses, food etc come under prakruti. Since souls cannot be created, the rest of materials during creation is prakruti. This is not mentioned in pras. Up. This needs to be understood automatically. For example, in Ch. Up., Br. Up, Kaushitaki (sp?) Up, Dev Yan marg is described with almost all lokas the soul is passing through. In Gita 8/24, some of the lokas are omitted. Now, based on this can we say that
> 8/24 contradicts with the above sruti texts? No. So, the bottom line is that there is no contradiction in sruti texts please. Contradictions may arise to us, but there is no contradiction in scriptures.
> "but it is not clear out of which substance this purusha created them"
> Badisa: Souls cannot be created. So prakruti is used for rest of the creation, as also mentioned in Gita 9/7,8.
> "And finally take chAndOgya's mahAvAkya tatvamasi, it says all this universe has IT alone as its essence, that *alone* is real, that is *Atman*, that is YOU Svetaketu etc"
> Badisa: The YOU referred above is pointing to the soul. But when this soul is surrounded by the layers of ignorance, as mentioned in Gita 3/38 and 5/15, the "HE" is not equal to "HIM". The "HE" becomes "HIM" after the death of the physical body of jeevan mukta or at the time of pralaya for liberated souls at Brahma Lok. The absolute divine, who is attained by the above souls, is all alone, and real. Such divine is already existing in our body in the form of soul, but surrounded by ignorance. So the father in the above up. is asking the son to do sadhana for the sake of realization. I do not see any contradiction from any of the sruti references you quoted. If I misunderstood your question on contradiction, then I request you to clarify me.
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Aditya Varun Chadha
adichad at gmail.com
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