[Advaita-l] Brahman, Isvara, and VishishthAdvaita

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Tue May 16 08:06:25 CDT 2006

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:
  > -- When the distinction between the Self and the products of ignorance like
> the mind and the external world has been made as mentioned above, why not
> retain this distinction eternally?
  The distinction is made because of the limitations of language and in order to communicate the concept of Reality. Why only here - in every statement involving brahman or aatman a similar second is talked about. Just because a mention is made of a second, it should not be assumed that such a second - be it mind or external world - is Real. 
  > In fact, this seems to me to be exactly the VishishthAdvaitic position -- a
> Self that permeates a body (made of lesser chetanas and jada padarthas. The 
  > details of what makes up this body might be different, but the idea is that one 
  > independent Self permeates the rest of the dependent world).
  Yes, that would be easier to comprehend, and it is indeed recommended as an intermediate position before Real is realised. In fact the concept of antaryaamin is remarked upon by Sri Sankara in the commentary on BrihadaaraNyakopanishad. Such an all-permeating internal-ruler is the lower, saguna brahman or Isvara.
  > Instead, in Advaita Vedanta, the Self is made the substrate for even the mind and 
  > the external world. Is this done to reconcile some statements of the Upanishads?
  The traditional view is that Advaita is what is expounded in the vedas including the upanishads. 

  > -- In the BruhadAranyaka Upanishad, the Self is identified by the process of
> Neti-Neti. From above, we rule out entities like the mind, the external
> world, and then arrive at the nature of the Self. This seems to support the
> "VishishthAdvaitic" (my understanding of it above) position that the Self is
> "something" distinct from the world we are in.

  Self is indeed something distinct from the world we are in; the Self is the Real whereas 'the world we are in' is unreal.
  > -- If my understanding is correct, what could be a plausible notion of
> Isvara? If the mind were to posit an Isvara to explain the external world, I
> do not see much difference from the Naiyyayika position which posits an
> Isvara to explain the regularity and order in this world. 
  Yes, creation of this 'world' is associated with Isvara. It is not so much to explain regularity as to explain its being. Whence has this illusion come? From Isavara, due to maaya.
  > Hence the question, what is the definition of Isvara?
  Isvara is Brahman associated with maaya. Or the saguNa-brahman is Isvara. This Isvara creates the world and descends (avatarati) into it, paritraaNaaya sadhUnaam... and all that. 
  But, of course, none of this is Real Ultimately. It is all an illusion, and that illusion has elaborate rules, and detailed codes, and so on. Actually even as I write, my head is spining, but I believe that is what the theory is.

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