kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 15 10:10:16 CST 2006

In the last post we have concluded that Vedas use ‘converse’ statements
to show that satyam jnaanam and anantam are swarUpa laxaNas of Brahman
and not attributes of Brahman.

Coming back to the discussion of objects, we have established that
objects can be defined only through their attributes.  Attributes
differentiates one object from the other.  Extending this statement
further, only objects have attributes.  Conversely, that which has
attributes must be an object.  In addition, only finites can have
attributes since the attributes differentiate one object from the
others.  Thus, objects are not only limited by other objects but are
also limited by space and time (desha kaala vastu paricchinnam).  From
these statements, we derive two conclusions.  Brahman which is
infiniteness or limitless cannot have attributes, for 1) it is not
finite to have attributes and 2) it is one without a second.  There is
no second to differentiate Brahman from other objects.  Hence, sat –
chit – ananda are to be recognized as not even LakshaNas of Brahman –
but we use the terms as upAya for Upadesha, that is, they used for the
purpose of teaching as tools to facilitate the student of Vedanta to
reject that which is not sat or not chit or not ananda as not Brahman. 
It is similar to defining infinity in mathematics.  Mathematically, the
very word infinity is not description of infinity but it is mere
exclusion of any finite as not infinite.  If infinity is describable
then it is no more infinite.  Thus, that which is asat (not present
eternally), that which is achit (inert), and that which is AnAnanda
(unhappiness) cannot be Brahman.  In principle, absolute infiniteness
cannot be defined.  There are local infinities such as ‘pi’ or ‘e’ , or
parallel lines etc in Math.  However, these are finite infinites or
one-dimensional infinities (here dimension means aspect rather than
spatial dimension).  Brahman means infinite from all aspects.  It is
absolutely infinite without any limitations what so ever.  Scriptures
call Brahman as nirguNa or attributeless.  Since attributes
differentiate (or exclude) one object from the other, such an absolute
infiniteness cannot exclude anything, since by exclusion it ceases to be
absolutely infinite.  Brahman should be all-inclusive, since it is
infinite.  Hence, scripture defines as satyam jnaanam anantam brahma –
that which is eternal, and that which is pure knowledge, and that which
is infinite is Brahman.  We have already noted in the beginning that
pure knowledge cannot be defined.  The scripture provides us the reason,
since pure knowledge is nothing but Brahman itself, which is indefinable
as it is attributeless or more precisely it is non-objectifiable.   

As a slight diversion, we may note that Bhagavaan Ramanuja explains
nirguNa as durguNa rahita.  That is, Brahman does not have any bad
qualities, whereas for an advaitin nirguNa means guNa atIta that is
Brahman is beyond the concepts of guNa, since all concepts are finite. 
Any conceptualization is finitization.  Instead, Bhagavaan Ramanuja
defines Brahman as ananta kalyANa guNa Ashhraya.  That is, Brahman is
the locus of infinite auspicious qualities.  Here the auspicious
qualities are infinite and the extent of each quality is infinite. 
Thus, Brahman is locus of infinite love, infinite compassions, etc.  If
one examines these critically, infinite cannot be measured or
quantifiable.  Therefore, human mind cannot comprehend the qualities
that Brahman has.  Close examination shows that the definition that
Bhagavaan Ramanuja provides is not much different from Advaitin’s
analysis of nirguNa.  Description as locus of infinite auspicious
qualities however provides the mind a positive vision for contemplation
and meditation so that those auspicious qualities that one admires can
become one with the meditator.  It provides an Alambanam (something to
hold on) for the mind during meditation.  However, advaitic
interpretation matches with the Vedic statements involving ‘neti, neti
..not this, not this.’ wherein all this, this, this are rejected which
are quantifiable through guNas or qualities.  By rejecting all that
which has guNas one gets absorbed into that which is beyond human
comprehension. Vedantic definitions are therefore very precise and
self-consistent (samanvaya). 

We may also note that not only Brahman cannot be defined, the subject
‘I’ also cannot be defined.  Any attempts to define the subject will
make it as an object and not a subject any more.  Since the definitions
are only in terms of attributes, definability only rests with objects. 
Since subject is not an object and can never become an object for
analysis, it has no attributes either.  Only operational definition that
can be given for subject ‘I’ in the spirit of neti, neti, is ‘subject is
that which cannot be objectified’ – this is not a definition but helps
to negate all the objects or all those that can be objectifiable or
attributable as ‘not I’.  The reason becomes clear.  ‘I am’ is
existent-conscious entity and by definition of ‘prajnaanam brahman – its
identity with Brahman is established. Therefore, it is also
‘sat-chit-ananda’, which is the swaruupa lakshaNa for Brahman.  The
Vedic statement ‘aham brahmaasmi – I am Brahman’ follows.  As we will
see that mAnDUkya upaniShad is going to reinforce this identity with the
statement ‘ayam aatma brahman’, the self that 'I am' is Brahman. 
MAnDUkya upaniShad in mantra 7 provides a brilliant description for
realization of ones own nature or nature of Brahman in meditation. 
Thus, we can see that all Vedic statements are logically

Before we proceed further, we need to recognize that Brahman being
absolutely infinite it cannot exclude anything since any exclusion
compromises its infinite nature. We also recognize that Brahman is
consciousness, which is infinite.  Hence, it cannot include anything
that is unconscious or inert.  On the other hand, objects and thus the
world is inert or achetana vastu. How do we resort these two
contradictory requirements without compromising the all-pervasive
conscious aspect of Brahman on one side, and the existence of inert
world on the other.  This aspect will be addressed later.  We may state,
however, that Bhagavaan Ramanuja brings these two aspects and
synthesizes by proposing a vishiShTa advaita with all-inclusive oneness
of Brahman but with internal diversity.  To do that he has to resort to
consciousness as adjective or attributive knowledge from the point of
jiivas (dharma bhuuta jnaana) while keeping self-consciousness of the
jiivas as intrinsic knowledge of the jiivas (dharmi jnaana).  This
dualistic consciousness becomes inevitable in his approach in order to
accommodate the inert world as eternal existent entity.  Here in
Ramanuja’s approach the inertness of the world is preserved as part of
Brahman along with self-conscious jiivas, both constituting the totality
of Brahman like organs of the cosmic being, virAt puruSha.  From
totality point, it is one (advaita) but from intrinsic point Brahman has
internal diversity with multiple jiivas and jagat as part of His total
body.  Just as my ‘I-ness’ pervades throughout the body, the ‘I-ness’ of
Paramaatma pervades the entire cosmic body, each part and cell of the
body.  The Vedic statement ‘antaryAmin’ or indweller is utilized to
prove that conscious Brahman is indweller of chit swaruupa jiivas and
achit swaruupa jagat.  That the consciousness is all-pervading, and at
the same time the statement that it is an ‘indweller or antaryAmin’
appear to be a contradiction.  To avoid this contradiction, it is
emphasized that it is not so in the model proposed using the analogy of
the individual soul, which is an indweller of the body, still pervades
the body.  In vishiShTAdvaita, the self consciousness or dharmi jnaanam
is inherent with the jiiva as chaitanya swaruupa.  However, dharma
bhuuta jnaana is acquired as the jiiva evolves towards moxa.  This
jnAnam or knowledge which is not purusha tantra (cannot be willed) is
gained at the grace of ParamAtma using which one becomes aware of the
ones dependence on paramAtma and also will be conscious of (by dharma
bhuuta jnaana) His infinite glory, sharing His infinite happiness.  

With this background, let us examine now more closely how the knowledge
of an object takes place, since the reality of the jagat is intimately
related to it.  Senses can only measure the attributes or qualities of
an object; color and form by the eyes, sound by the ears, hardness and
texture by the touch, taste by the tongue, and smell by the nose.  These
are the only measurable qualities by the five senses.  Object has its
attributes, yet object is different from its attributes.  It is true
that without the attributes the object cannot be defined.  However,
attributes themselves are not the object but it is their locus.  There
are different theories of how attributes and the locus of the attributes
are interrelated.  Examination of the perceptual process indicates that
senses can only measure (they are called maatraas) attributes but cannot
grasp the substantive.  Since knowledge can take place only via senses,
the absolute knowledge of the object does not exist, other than the
knowledge of its attributes.  Knowledge of any object is essentially
attributive knowledge, rather than absolute knowledge.  This fact
becomes clearer when we examine the substantive of the objects.  Since
senses cannot grasp the substantive of an object, the substantive
knowledge is not available through perception.  Since inference
(anumaana pramANa) as a means of knowledge also rests on pratyaxa
pramANa for validation, one cannot gain substantive knowledge of the
objects and hence the knowledge of the world using inference. Only
resort is the shaastra pramANa or Veda pramANa.  Vedas indicate that
substantive of every object and hence the world is nothing but Brahman,
(sarvam kalvidam brahma1), which is of the nature of
consciousness-existence.  Brahman is the material cause (upaadAna
kAraNa) in addition to being efficient and instrumental cause (nimitta
kAraNa).  Hence, substantive knowledge of any object and thus the world
involves knowledge of Brahman.  Brahman cannot be known either by
perception or by inference.  Thus, analysis of the perceptual process
and recognition that we can only have attributive knowledge and not
substantive knowledge are further confirmed by Veda-s.  The mAnDUkya
upaniShad will be reinforcing the above analysis. 

1(I get complaints from our friends that we are not quoting the complete
statement of the shRiti – The statement is ‘sarvam khalvidam brahma
tajjalAniti shAnta upAsIta|” Ch-3.14.1. – Meaning – “All this, in fact,
is Brahman; From this everything comes, into this everything disappears
and by this or on this everything is sustained”.  The full statement
reinforces the Ti. Up. Statement ‘yato vaa imaani bhuutani jaayante 
further confirming that Brahman is the material cause for the universe
of objects that can be pointed out as idam, idam, this, this,.. -
sarvam, thus the entire universe.  The part quoted above makes the
essence that all ‘this, idams’ are nothing but Brahman.  Any other
explanations not withstanding, we are not deviating from the intended
meaning of the scriptures by not fully quoting the upaniShad’s mantra. 

Another complaint is that we only quote quarter of the sloka ‘neha
nanAsti kincana’ – the full line is “manasaivAnupadraShTavyam, neha
nAnAsti kicana|” Br. Up. 4-4-19.  It means through mind alone the truth
(Brahman) has to be realized, there are no internal differences what so
ever in that Brahman – As we shall see that manDUkya UpaniShad zeroes on
this statement.  This is precisely what is being discussed above related
to the mental cognition of the self and the world of objects since
Brahman is the material cause for everything, and internal differences
one sees in the mind are only apparent and not real, since in Brahman
there are no internal differences.  The word ‘anudraShTavyam’ implies
that to see this fact one needs a deeper analysis or inquiry.  The
second part of the sloka that was not quoted above pertains to what
happens to those who mistake that there are internal differences in
Brahman.  Let us recognize that dvaitins and vishiShTa Advaitins have
different interpretations for the above statements, with which obviously
they seem to be happy.)

Analyzing further, in gaining the attributive knowledge, in addition to
the sense input, there is a transactional utility of the object that was
perceived through the senses.  
This is acquired as the child grows from childhood and learns, based on
the transactional utility of the object.  This helps to conclude that
there is an object out there with the attributes that have been measured
by the senses.  Thus, name and form together get stored as attributive
objective knowledge.  This becomes precursor for all transactions or
vyavahaara.  Mentally, the object ‘out there’ is recognized as the
thought of an object in the mind with all the associated attributes:
form, color, smell, taste, etc.  Here, we are not concerned about the
details of the relation between the attributes and the object. The
perception of the object ‘out there’ (therefore, the knowledge of the
object ‘out there’) occurs in three sequential steps. First, the senses
gather the attributes of an object via perception.  If the senses are
defective, the attributes that are gathered can be erroneous.  For
senses to operate fully, the environment (such as proper illumination,
etc) should also be conducive.  Once the attributes are gathered, they
are fed to the mind.  The sense input and the integration by the mind
(volition) can go on continuously as more or better information is
gathered by the senses.  The second step in the process of perception
involves integration of the sense input by the mind and providing a
mental image of an object as the locus for the attributes and the
intellect cognizing the object.  At this stage, we cognize that there is
an object ‘out there’ having such and such attributes that the sense
have measured.  By education and training, the senses can be trained to
pick up subtler differences in the attributes and feed the mind.  For
example, with trained eye one can pick up various shades of say, blue
color.  Similarly, with trained ear, one can pick up subtler differences
between various ragas or tunes in the music, and thus one will be able
to differentiate one raaga from the other.  The third step in the
cognitive process involves comparison of perceived image of the object
with the attributes with the images stored in the memory.  Recognition
of the object based on the information in the memory occurs when the
image in the mind matches with the image with their attributes in
memory.  Thus, recognition process forms the third step in the sequence
of the knowledge.  The recognition will be fuzzy if the matching is not
exact.  We say ‘This object looks like the other object but we are not
sure’.  If there is no matching at all, then we say ‘I see such an
object with these attributes, but I do not know what it is’.  The naming
of an object and knowledge of the object go together.  Thus word and the
object or form (that includes all other associated attributes) together
is stored as one package.  Thus, we have 1) the objective knowledge is
attributing knowledge, 2) attributive knowledge involves an image in the
mind with its attributes and 3) a name (word) associated with it.  Name
is nothing but a sound or assemblage of syllables.  Language,
communication and transactions involving meaningful association of words
(by convention) follow.  Thus, sounds, syllables, words involving names
ultimately are related to the objects, the world and our transactions
with the world.  Thus, the world is nothing but objects ‘out there’, and
from the mental cognition process, the objects ‘out there’ are nothing
but the images formed in the mind and stored in the memory along with
the names associated with the objects.  Thus, one can see the chain of
sequences involved with the mind playing a central role in the knowledge
of an object and thus the knowledge of the world.  This is not mentalism
commonly discussed by vijnAnavadins, but recognition that mind is
playing a central role in the cognition of the world of objects. Senses
do not generate the attributes but only gather the attributes from the
object ‘out there’.  Based on the attributes that they gather objects
are cognized.  It is important to recognize that no substantives for the
objects can be established by mental cognitions.  Because of the lack of
cognition of the substantives, errors in the attributive cognitions can
occur.  This limitation of the human intellect and the limitation in the
cognitive process have to be recognized at the outset. 

When the child sees an object for the first time, he gathers the
attributes to the degree that his senses can gather.  When his mother
teaches the object by naming it – the name and the image are stored
along with its attributes in his memory.  Thus when he sees a ‘cow’ for
the first time and mother says that is a cow, the image of the cow, its
attributes and the name are stored.  For example, if it is a white cow
and the mother says that is a cow, all the information is stored.  Next
time when he sees another cow, which is black and mother again says that
is also a cow, he picks the common features of the two cows as generic
features (jAti), taking the specific features such as white or black as
the attributes of individual cows (vyashhTi).  Thus generic attributive
knowledge (jAti jnaanam) as well as specific attributive knowledge
(vyashhTi jnAnam) are gathered and stored into the memory as learning
proceeds.  The synchronization of the name and form is intense that
every name is associated with a form and every form is associated with a
name.  Thus when one hears a word ‘cow’ at any time (even when one is
not perceiving a cow at that instance) the image of the cow with the
sound of its name is brought in from the memory and internal perception
of the cow occurs.  Thus, word and the form get associated inseparably
(avinaabhAva sambandha).  The object cow ‘out there’ is associated with
the thought of cow in the mind, since there is no other substantive
associated with the cow other than its image in the mind is perceived by
the mind. Thus, thought of the cow along with the name ‘cow’ is the
object cow outside.  Here the image first and the name second occur due
to their coexistence in a subsequent perceptions.  On the other hand,
when one hears the word ‘cow’, along with the name the image is brought
in from the memory.  Here the name comes first followed by the image. 
Perception here is from memory.  Either way, the name and form (naama
and ruupa) go together for each attributive-objective knowledge. In all
these, attributive knowledge there is no substantive knowledge involved.
 This lack of substantive is more easily perceived in the dream world
than in the waking world.  Nature is providing a wonderful analogy to
educate a contemplative intellect the transactional realities involved
in the waking and dream worlds.  MAnDUkya upaniShad is, therefore, a
glorious blessing of the Vedas to the mankind. 
(As a side note, it is recognized lately that images are stored in one
side of the brain while the name or language is stored in the other
side.  Therefore, recognition process involves gathering information
from two different sides of the brain.  If these two are not
synchronized, particularly when one reaches an advanced age, we have
only a partial recognition.  It is a common experience for many of us
mature people that when we see a person we say ‘we know this person and
I have seen him somewhere, but I cannot remember his name’.  We could
easily pullout the image but not the name from the other side of the
memory bank).

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