[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.12: part 3

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Sun Dec 4 10:01:32 CST 2005

namo nArAyaNAya!

dear shrI Rishi Lamicchane,

sorry for not replying earlier. the last two weeks
were unusually hectic and i didn't find much time to
reply to your mail then. i'll answer both of your
mails in this thread now. 

--- Rishi Lamichhane <rishi.lamichhane at gmail.com>
> I do not think it is at all difficult to respond to
> Ramanuja's argument here
> (at least the non-scriptural one). There might be
> some cases where questions
> themselves are not appropriate, but if Advaitins
> start using this fact to
> answer to all objections, then it could easily be a
> coverup for irrational
> arguments.

well, there are a lot objections that can be easily
answered using advaita vedAnta. i agree that reason
can be quite comfortably exercised to solve many
problems within advaita once you assume the axioms of
advaita to be true. but i'm not sure if shrI
rAmAnuja's arguments can be dismissed so easily as you
seem to suggest. shrI rAmAnuja's objection is
regarding the axioms of advaita themselves. 

the reply you gave was one based on advaita. but my
point was different. what i wanted to know was this:
does this shloka support only an advaitic
interpretation? gItA 2.12 can be very easily
interpreted on a vishiShTAdvaitic basis or based on
sA~Nkhya. to understand what i'm trying to say,
suspend for the moment your present attachment to
advaita and view the matter objectively. in gItA 2.12,
kR^iShNa uses a lot of plural words and teaches the
immortal nature of each person. according to advaita,
the usage of plural is for the bodies and the teaching
of one's eternal nature is regarding one's ultimate
nature as brahman. but, is it necessary to interpret
it this way? consider a possible alternative: the very
fact that the body is born and dies contradicts any
assertion that the body can be eternal. hence, the
usage of plural words like "these kings", "we" etc.
cannot refer to the body. since the mind is also
subject to change, it cannot refer to the mind. it can
only refer to the self, which is taught to be
unchanging as against the body and mind which undergo
various modifications like birth and death. if it
refers to the self, the usage of plural clearly
indicates an ultimate plurality of selves. 

the story of shrI chandrasekhara bhArati (SCB) that
you gave in the other mail can equally well be
interpreted based on some philosophical system that
accepts only one self, but also maintains that the
universe has an independent existence apart from the
self. the explanation offered by SCB would have
remained equally valid within such systems. SCB's
reply is based on the fact that AtmA is different from
prakR^iti and kartR^itva exists only in the latter,
but not in the former. while this is true within
advaita, it cannot be asserted that it is true only in

coming back to the point, i think there are bunch of
closely related unanswerable questions in advaita like
the existence of vyavahAra (i asked you earlier to
suspend any attachment to advaita for the moment!) or
equivalently, the existence of mAyA or equivalently,
the existence of avidyA. advaita acknowledges this by
saying that mAyA is anirvachanIyam. but what if some
other system of philosophy call's it's own conception
of the universe as anirvachanIyam? it seems to me that
there is no way to get over this. what shrI rAmAnuja
has done is to point out the logical difficulties with
advaita's conception of mAyA (the vishiShiTAdvaitin-s
have their own concept of mAyA). i don't think shrI
rAmAnuja's objections can be dismissed so easily. 

accepting advaita to be true, however, the objection
can be answered satisfactorily using ajAti vAda.   

--- Rishi Lamichhane <rishi.lamichhane at gmail.com>
> When we say Krishna teaches Arjuna, we have to
> consider what we mean by
> "Krishna." Krishna, truly, is Brahman (not just
> Krishna, but also Arjuna,
> and everyone else). Brahman does nothing (it is
> actionless), so it is not
> Krishna (ie: Brahman) who is teaching Arjuna, it is
> rather that body that is
> teaching Arjuna.

what shrI rAmAnuja objected was that if advaita were
correct, kR^iShNa can never have a body.  

i raised similar questions long time back in the list,
but it was not well taken then. i stopped asking these
sort of questions after that. but the present occasion
demanded raising this question. to avoid any possible
misinterpretation, i'd like to make it clear that i'm
not trying to refute advaita here. i'm just pointing
out some problems that need to be addressed within
advaita. i feel the question of avidyA can be resolved
only after knowing that which is beyond avidyA -
brahman. until one knows the truth directly, there
isn't much of a difference in being an advaitin or a
vishiShTAdvaitin or some x-in :-) for that matter. my
concern is more with the TRUTH. right now, i feel
advaita can show me the way, but since i haven't
verified it myself, i cannot dismiss valid objections
from other schools of thought based on a blind
acceptance of advaita's axioms. i hope the list
members take this in the right spirit and not get

i'll continue with the gItA posts from tomorrow. we
can discuss this (if you want to) parallel to the gItA

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

Amuthan Arunkumar R,
Final year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
Dept. of Aerospace Engg., IIT Madras.

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