[Advaita-l] brahma satyaM, jaganmithyA

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Wed Aug 23 21:55:15 CDT 2006

praNAM all,
        I have a few questions on the tenets of advaita vEdAnta vis-a-vis
the tattva bOdha (attributed to shaN^karAchArya) and the vEdAnta sAra (of
sadAnanda, translated by Hiriyanna). I will first present a brief overview
of the theory presented in these two works (as per my understanding, please
feel free to correct me) to give the context, and then formulate my
questions. Thanks a lot.

The theory in these works is as follows. Ishvara is defined to be nirguNa
brahma (the underlying spirit, consciousness) in combination with the
triguNAtmika mAyA. mAyA is fully dependent on nirguNa brahma for its
existence, while nirguNa brahma is fully independent (adhyArOpa apavAda).
Hence is asserted the ontological superiority of nirguNa brahma and its sole
      The jIva is, by definition, the nirguNa brahma in combination of
avidyA. avidyA is again triguNAtmika and hence, part of mAyA. Thus, the
relationship between the jIva and Ishvara is a unique
identity-cum-difference. For an unrealized jIva, the sattva component
comprising his avidyA is dominated by the rajas.h and tamas.h components,
while for a realized jIva, the sattva shines without being sullied by the
rajas.h and tamas.h components (This is called sattva shudhdi).
      mAyA has two powers -- vikShEpa and AvaraNa. vikShEpa is what results
in the manifestation of variety, while AvaraNa results in the covering up of
the real nature of the Atma (hence, mAyA is called bhAva rUpa).

Given this background, I have the following questions:
-- Please let me know if the above understanding is correct, and let me know
of any corrections. Thanks.

-- A curious comment in Hiriyanna's book is that Ishvara is very much aware
of this vikShEpa, but being omniscient is obviously not affected by AvaraNa.
Is this admissible in advaita vEdAnta? Because if we were to extend this to
a jIvanmukta, he too gets past the AvaraNa, but presumably he should still
see the vikShEpa. To extend this still further, a vidEhamukta should be able
to assume a body if he wills (by the vidEhamukta, I mean the avidyA which
has undergone the sattva shudhdi). You might ask why would a vidEhamukta
want to do that. It could be the same reason why Ishvara takes the form of
shrI kR^iShNa -- out of compassion for the jIvas suffering in saMsAra. Are
the above deductions acceptable to advaita vEdAnta?

-- Is compassion the reason why Ishvara takes form on Earth to teach the
jIvas, to set dharma right etc.? Can the same principle be extended to a
jIvanmukta, i.e., the reason a jIvanmukta stays in the world. I have seen
prArabdha karma being given as a reason, but a jIvanmukta could have as well
just stayed in samAdhi until his prArabdha is exhausted. What need does he
feel to teach his disciples etc.? In fact, if the above vikShEpa theory is
not to be believed, we cannot even say that the jIvanmukta can perceive
anything different from him. The vivaraNa school seems to attribute it to a
trace of "I"-ness that is still left in a jIvanmukta. What is the accepted
doctrine in the tradition on this issue?

-- In general, on a bunch of issues, the bhAmati and the vivaraNa schools
seem to have different positions, on the theory of what constitutes a jIva,
what is the nature of a jIvanmukta etc. Is it the tradition that all these
theories are acceptable in as far as they do not contradict the three
fundamental tenets:
        brahma satyaM jaganmithyA
        jIvO brahmaiva nAparaH

-- gauDapAdAchArya proposed the ajAti vAda where the only tenet would be
"brahma satyaM", i.e., he does not even bother defining a jIva and its
identity with brahma (I am not too familiar with this vAda. Please let me
know if something's wrong). Is shaN^karAchArya's insistence on the
vyAvahAra, for example, admitting multiple jIvas etc. supposed to be only
for the sake of mandAdhikArIs? Or is he disagreeing with gauDapAdAchArya in
his metaphysics?

-- Similarly, it seems like prakAShAnanda sarasvati in his vEdAnta sidhdAnta
muktAvaLi proposes the notion of ekajIva vAda, and dismisses the notion of
jIvanmukta. I am not even sure what life/death means in this theory, and if
the notion of jIvanmukta even makes sense. Could someone clarify this theory
vis-a-vis these issues? And btw, even in this case, is it supposed to be
another attempt to reconcile our logic to what the shAstra is saying? In the
sense that these different theories are meant for different adhikArIs, the
final word being that of the vEdas (interpreted "correctly" of course)?



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