[Advaita-l] Re: GITA - 2.12: part 3

Rishi Lamichhane rishi.lamichhane at gmail.com
Sun Dec 4 21:09:26 CST 2005

Dear Sri Amuthan Arunkumar,

Thank you for your reply.

There are two issues here as I understand it. One is the internal
consistency in Advaita. The other is whether that scriptural passage
is Advaitic or not.

When we reply to alleged internal contradictions within Advaita, we
can use the Advaita system's basic presentation. I don't think its
appropriate to saying the opponent's position does not arrise because
all phenomena are non-arrising, since thats just a logical trick. I
will try to explain what I mean.

Sri Ramanuja's objection Advaita metaphysics was essentially, how
could Sri Krishna, who does not perceive duality, teach? He is trying
to expose an internal contradiction in Advaita, it is a reductio ad

So what Sri Ramanuja is saying is that "Assume what the Advaitins say
is true. If that is the case, there is such and such contradiction.
Therefore what Advaitins say is not true."

If the contradictions don't follow from the Advaita position, then
Ramanuja has not shown that Advaita is contradictory. So it is
perfectly rational and perfectly standard to reply to such objections
using Advaita metaphysics.

Vyavahara is another issue, but (please correct me if I wrong) was not
in your mail so I didn't reply to that.

The other issue, now.

Ramanuja might also say "What is your proof for Advaita"? This is
another question which Advaitins should be able to answer, but its a
different one. This is asking for proof of Advaita. Here, according to
tradition the proof for Advaita is Shruti, not logic and in this case
Ramanuja also accepts Shruti so using it is valid. I can think of two
quick arguments that generally will put the non-Advaitins on the
defensive. They will come up with objections but they will be a bit

One has been pointed out Sri Bhattacharjya. Sruti often says that in
the beggining, there is nothing but Brahman, or Brahman was one
without a second (Ch. 6.2.1, Ait. 1,1,1). Its not just that many of
the Upanishads say so, even the Nasadiya Sukta says this. Sruti and
Smriti also says that the Self is eternal (the non-Advaitins also
accept this). If the Self is eternal, it always existed. In the
beggining only Brahman existed. Therefore the Self is Brahman.

Another nice argument is based on Gaudapada's argument for ajativada
with a kind of gloss from myself (because of my contamination the
argument may be flawed, please tell me if you feel it is so).

Sruti does often say that everything is Brahman (sarvam khalvidam
brahma). Other than possibly Sri Anandatirtha, all the Acharyas also
accept that there is nothing outside Brahman (ie: Brahman is the
whole). Sruti also says that Brahman is partless (this is accepted by
all Acharyas I believe).

Since there is nothing other than Brahman, something outside Brahman
cannot arrise. Since Brahman has no parts nothing can arrise within
Brahman. Since Brahman itself is unborn, it cannot arrise. Since
nothing arrises in Brahman and nothing arrises outside of Brahman, and
Brahman does not arrise, nothing arrises.

I think the first argument is less complex, therefore more solid than
the second. The only way to refute it is to gloss over  the passages
in Sruti which say that in the beginning there was only Brahman.

The other thing more generally is what Mandana Mishra says
(paraphrased from memory, please correct me if appropriate): "If other
positions are established, that doesn't negate Advaita. If Advaita is
established, all other positions are negated." Dualistic statements
are a part of teaching Advaita, but non-dualistic teachings are never
a part of teaching dualistic positions. A single Advaitic statement in
the Upanishads is all proof that is needed, and there are plenty more
than a single one,



On 12/4/05, Amuthan Arunkumar R <aparyap at yahoo.co.in> wrote:
> 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>
> wrote:
> >
> > 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
> advaita.
> 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>
> wrote:
> >
> > 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
> offended.
> i'll continue with the gItA posts from tomorrow. we
> can discuss this (if you want to) parallel to the gItA
> posts.
> vAsudevaH sarvaM,
> aparyAptAmR^itaH.
> Amuthan Arunkumar R,
> Final year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
> Dept. of Aerospace Engg., IIT Madras.
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