[Advaita-l] Re:Three Questions on Jiva, Atman & Brahma-jnAna

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 11 12:23:50 CDT 2005

Namaste Vishu-ji

I have reproduced your mail below with my comments. Please
pardon me if you feel I have been too blunt with the
comments. The intention is to communicate and not to hurt.
My comments are enclosed in [VK: ...]

Thank you so much Prof. Krishnamurthy. I will try to
understand your
responses and follow the lead.
On the third one, my apologies for not making my self
clear. I will try to
put it in a different perspective and see if I can convey
my thoughts
effectively; in the end, my English is only so good :).

I will go with the pot analogy from Mr. Venkatraman.

[VK: First maxim of Vedanta: Never carry an analogy beyond
the purpose for which it is intended.]

If you consider jiva or body as pot, atman as pot space and
the rest of the
space as Brahman, it can be understood that same Brahman
pervades all objects and it's just that we tend not to
realize this due to avidya.

[VK: The combination of words “jiva or body” is a start
with the wrong foot!.  Anyway further comments below will
clear this].

So far, it sounds good. My question is related to
re-incarnation, heaven,
hell, suryaloka, chandraloka etc.

If it is true that the same Brahman exists in every body,
just as the same
space exists in all pots, once the jiva or body is
destroyed, the atman
becomes one with Brahman. 

[VK: The body is destroyed but not the Jiva. It is the Jiva
that ‘escapes’. Secondly, Atman does not ‘become’ one with
Brahman; Atman is always Brahman] 

Once the pot is broken, the space escapes and unites with
the space surrounding the pot. 

[VK: ‘the space escapes and unites’: This is one of the
places where the analogy of the pot is carried too far. The
analogy is to point out there is no difference between
pot-space and the wide space. In the
body-Jiva-Atman-Brahman situation there is no ‘escaping and
uniting’. Atman is always Brahman. Jiva is only Spirit
under an envelope of subtle matter. This
Jiva-subtle-matter-envelope remains as a subtle body
(sUkshma sharira) even after it ‘escapes’ from the physical
body. The subtle body is the conglomeration of all the
vAsanAs accumulated in the life. With all these vAsanAs the
same Jiva takes another body in due time. All the while
nothing has  happened to the Atman or Brahman]

With this understanding, how can the existence of heaven,
hell, re-incarnation be explained? 

[VK:  Heaven and Hell are part of the universe of creation,
sustenance and dissolution. They come at every creation of
Brahma at beginning of his day (kalpa) and go at every
dissolution at the end of his day.  Reincarnation is with
reference to the Jiva – which is spirit enveloped by the
subtle body. When the Jiva takes another physical body – it
has to, because, so long as the subtle matter-envelope of
it is there it has to continue its journey until it shreds
off that matter-envelope – that is called reincarnation. 
Incidentally don’t confuse it with the incarnation or
reincarnation of Ishvara. That is a different phenomenon]

It is true that once atman escapes body, it unites with
Brahman and then it takes another body. But how can any
attributes of previous body be transferred to the new one
in the process?

[VK: I have already said that “atman escapes body” is
wrong. Atman does not do anything. It is the Jiva with its
subtle luggage that ‘escapes’ the body.  And this explains
why the vAsanas (not attributes or qualifications or
specifications) are carried from the previous life to the
next life]

Here is another way to put it:
Jiva and atman-->jiva goes away-->atman, the piece of
Brahman goes back to Brahman, since Brahman is nirguna,
this piece of Brahman that unites with Brahman is nirguna
as well-->another piece of Brahman enters another body with
clean slate.

[VK: Atman is not a ‘piece of Brahman’. Atman is Brahman,
period.  So the ‘entering another body with a clean slate’
is wrong. As I have said earlier, the Jiva enters another
body with all its luggage of previous vAsanAs]

If the above is correct, how can yet another staging area
(heaven or hell)
for atman be explained? Once the pot is broken and the
space is united with rest of the space, how can one say
that the space in another pot is the same space?, (which is
essentially what is conveyed by re-incarnation) especially
when we understand that the space is devoid of attributes
or nirguna. 

[VK: As I have said earlier, the analogy of the pot-space
and the wide space is only to say that the Atman (which is
what we are ‘essentially’) and the Brahman (which is what
everything is) are the same. Atman does not move or ‘get
united’ with Brahman. Atman is Brahman. And this applies to
every living being. It is the Jiva which is a matter
envelope of spirit that travels from body to body with all
its subtle luggage of vAsanAs. This travel ends when all
the matter envelope of VasanAs have been exhausted. To
exhaust the VasanAs one has to do karma with the ‘I am not
the doer’ attitude and do bhakti  without any expectation
of results  and go through life with the ‘I am not the
bhokta’ attitude.  Once all the VasanAs are  exhausted the
Jiva no more remains as Jiva; it reverts back to its
original state of being the Atman-Brahman.  But this
exhaustion of the VasanAs is not a mechanical process. That
apex is reached only when Brahma-JnAna dawns in the
purified one-pointed mind. And this dawning of Brahma-JnAna
occurs only by the Grace of God and the Guru from whom you
get the spark of the jnAna. ... Well, now we are all in
deep waters, untread and unexplored by us ordinary

VK: Vishu-ji, I hope I have been of some help!

PraNAms to all seekers of Truth.

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy

Latest on my website:  A conversation on the Concept of God in Hinduism.

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