[Advaita-l] Re: A Query

Aditya Varun Chadha adichad at gmail.com
Sun Mar 27 17:21:30 CST 2005

Greetings Professor,

Although I do agree with you that it is very difficult to fully
understand and appreciate the teachings of advaita without the guiding
hand of a Guru, there is no evidence that such a Guru can not be found
within oneself. Moreover, the concept of a "worshipable" God is not so
much central to advaita as is of God as one to be meditated upon. In
that sense, God and brAhmaN are one. In other words, "God" is the
manifestation of brAhmaN that the mind can feel affinity towards.

If by God or Guru you mean a directing entity that both the heart and
mind accept, I agree with you on the need for such an entity. But one
must use the terms "God's Grace", "worship", "devotion", "devotee" and
especially "unselfish" very carefully in the context of advaita. To be

God's Grace is NOT to be understood as "an ACT of a God seperate from
one's Self". advaita categorically denies an active doer God, since
all action itself is ultimately mithyA. Instead, it is more
appropriate to think of "God's Grace" as the simple yet profound act
of "Being" that not only God, but by the same token Atman also

Worship should NOT be understood as necessarily being "servitude" or
"appeasing" of God. In advaita, the act of worship is the same as the
act of meditation. In other words, the advaitin does not so much
"worship" as "strives to understand".

The Guru is not to be taken as an entity SEPERATE from one's Self. It
is commonly known among students of any discipline that while initial
steps are easier to take if a Guru is present to hold us, true
learning and Understanding comes ONLY through the repeated cycle of
"Practice and Reflection", which are purely activities of the Self,
and do NOT require any external entity. When we revere a Guru and
become desciples, the aim is to find that Acharan of the Acharya that
we can Identify ourselves with. Respect for a Guru comes from the
heart only when the desciples can see themselves EMULATING the Guru.
True Respect comes from identification alone.

Devotion is NOT the same as "devotion to a master" in advaita. A
better picture is to think of "Devotion to the Path of Knowledge". It
does not help too much to "praise" God, rather the approach propounded
by advaita is to "understand" and "emulate" God. More specifically, an
advaitin is devoted NOT to God as a master but to God as the "concept
of identity" between Atman and brAhmaN. Thus, the advaitin is a
Devotee like a musician is devoted to his music, who strives to
understand, love and finally BECOME music, rather than someone who
just "praises" music.

You also mention the act of "service to humanity in an unselfish way".
This calls for some comment. While obviously the effect of the act you
are referring to is seen to be benificial, one must carefully
understand the motivation behind and nature of this "service in an
unselfish way".

The most provocative word that you use here is "unselfish". This word,
whenever used, should be clearly differentiated from "un-Self-ish"
because to an advaitin, anything "un-Self-ish" is pure mithyA. advaita
teaches that there IS simply NOTHING BUT brAhmaN, and Atman (the Self)
IS brAhmaN. Therefore I cannot "serve" in a way that is not the "way
of the Self" or "Self-ish".

Let us take a real life example: when we help a needy person, the
motivation behind the act is ultimately the elevation of the Self (the
Self of the beggar is the same is my Self). We do it because the
eradication of misery (which is mithyA) is the "righteous" thing to
do. Even for a person not so informed about this one-ness of the Self,
the motive behind the Good act is that upon doing so one feels good.
Thus true "service to humanity" can be done only if one is in harmony
with one's Self, and in a pure "Self-ish" way. An act is benificial
only if it benifits the Self (realise that "humanity" does not exist
seperate from the Self), and an advaitin knows that there is only One
Self, Atman.

You also elude to a "dryness of intellectualism". I am surprized that
although you are a professor, you hold intellectual activity in such
low regard. Intellect is the faculty that we have to attain
"understanding". True intellectual activity by its very nature arises
from and results in uncontrollable Passion, Devotion and dervish-like
"lagan" of the heart to the subject. Archimedez's passionate "eureka!"
is a textbook example of the exhuberance that one can feel through
intellectual activity. Is this so different from the bliss a great
advaitin would feel somewhere on one's path to Perfection?

I completely agree with you that in practical life, the Guru and the
concept of God are not only helpful but probably essential to attain
true Knowledge and brAhmaN-hood. But it would be misdirection to say
that this Guru and God is to be searched outside one's Self.


On Sun, 27 Mar 2005 13:29:36 -0800 (PST), V. Krishnamurthy
<profvk at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Namaste
> Shri U.K. Anumula writes:
> ***In Indian philosophy we come across concepts like
> "aatma",  "Paramaatma", "Brahman", and God by different
> names, e.g., "Brahma", "Vishnu" and "Siva" etc.   My
> question is this: Are God and Brahman the same or are they
> two different concepts?   If they are different, when
> "Brahma" is "satyam" and all else is "mithya", God also
> becomes "mithya".   I think it was in Devi Purana there is
> a slokam which says "maayaantu prakritim viddhi, maya
> maatram Parameswaraha".   An understanding on these lines,
> as literally interpreted, would lead us to true
> Godlessness.   God, in such an interpretation, is a
> creature of human ignorance rather than one who is
> transcendentally real.  IDOL WORSHIP AND PERFORMANCE OF
> IN GOD (and certainly in the various manifestations of God
> that Indian cosmogeny revels in.)  Yet at the same time,
> worship and belief in God, in whatever form, appears to be
> truly comforting and apparently even providing answers to a
> common man's several troubling questions.   Can one deny
> God and be a true Advaitin? ***
> ------------------------------------------------------
> My comments are on the lines in bold capitals (the
> capitalisation is mine).  This is the danger of  attempting
> to learn advaita by sheer book reading.  I would like
> somebody to point out to me any great advaitin who is not a
> believer in the worship of God. All great advaitins have
> been great devotees of God. The taste for advaita itself
> comes only by the Grace of God. The advaita forcefully
> self-pumped into oneself by reading advaita texts,  -- even
> the Brahma-sutra bhashya – will be only a dry academic
> philosophy intellectualised to such an extent that there is
> no emotional conviction, that is, conviction that goes to
> the heart and not just to the brain. Advaita may cry hoarse
> about the nirguna brahman and the one-ness of everything
> visible or non-visible. But unless one has been influenced
> (and blessed) by a guru-like person personally, it is going
> to stay only at the brain level.  And that guru-like person
> himself will be obtained only by God's Grace. And God's
> Grace will be obtained only by worship of God or,  what is
> equivalent, service to humanity in an unselfish way.  Let
> us not pass on a wrong message to people that advaita can
> be learnt and assimilated without any reference to a God or
> a Guru!
> PraNAms to all seekers of Truth
> profvk
> Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
> New on my  website, particularly for beginners in Hindu philosophy:
> Hinduism for the next generation: http://www.geocities.com/profvk/gohitvip/contentsbeach10.html
> Free will and Divine will - a dialogue:
> http://www.geocities.com/profvk/HNG/FWDW.html
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Aditya Varun Chadha
adichad at gmail.com
Mobile: +91 98 400 76411
Home:  +91 11 2431 4486

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