[Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 46, Issue 6

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Wed Feb 7 15:56:46 CST 2007

praNAm.h shrI Jayanarayanan,

> I believe it is the other way around. Since a couple of the followers
> of SSS (e.g. Bhaskar YR, Venkat Subramanian) in this list have argued
> against the difference between steady and unsteady AtmaGYAna,

What shrI Bhaskar argued for in his mails was that there is no difference in
the AtmaGYAna of a GYAnimAtra and a sthitapraGYa (or so I understand it).
And I feel the usage of steady and unsteady with AtmaGYAna (rather than to
establishment in AtmaGYAna) contributed to the confusion. (If this is not
the case, I will take up the discussion with shrI Bhaskar later on).

I would
> like to see some proof of the assertion that SSS did comprehend this
> in his writings.

I will revisit the quotes given below.

> Below, I will provide some quotes which show that SSS did recognize
> > differences in establishment of AtmaGYAna. There is no difference
> > in the
> > different grades of brahmaniShThas in that there would be no
> I've not used the term "BrahmaniShTha" in any of my postings so far.
> I'm not sure if you take it to refer to the GYAnimAtra or the
> sthitapraGYa, or a BrahmaGYAnI (who can be either).

Apologies, I used "brahmaniShTha" in the sense of a brahmaGYAni, and the
expression "different grades" to refer to GYAnimAtra at one end of the
spectrum to sthitapraGYa at the other end.

> rebirth for any
> > of them. But from an empirical viewpoint, they still need to
> > counteract the
> > pUrva vAsanas, and some amount of discipline is required for that
> > (which is
> > exactly what svAmI vidyAraNya's point is in JMV).
> >
> If I understand you correctly, that is exactly what the JMV does NOT
> say.

I must stress that using terminology like "empirical viewpoint" and
> "transcendental viewpoint" like black-and-white is not the correct
> way to interpret the JMV. The most problematic in such a
> black-and-white view would be the GYAnimAtra, who knows the Brahman
> in the transcendental level, and is yet troubled by vAsanAs at the
> empirical level, and therefore makes EFFORT to be rid of vAsanAs.

Could you tell me how this paraphrasing of yours is different from what I
said above? (I am confused by your "this is exactly what the JMV does NOT
intend", as I do not see that I wrote anything vastly different.) The only
assertion I made (that could be contentious) was that a GYAnimAtra also does
not have any rebirth (and this was my deduction, so I could be wrong).
Please let me know if this is not true.

Whereas the sthitapraGYa knows Brahman and remains completely
> EFFORTLESS (i.e. does not require any "discipline" as you've stated
> above).

Yes. I agree with this. The confusion probably resulted from my using
"different grades" instead of GYAnimAtra and  sthitapraGYa.

> The quotes are all from "The Method of Vedanta", A.J.Alston's
> > translation of
> > SSS's "vEdAnta prakriya pratyAbhiGYA".
> >
> > Pg. 144, ch. 3, sec. 55, last paragraph of SSS notes
> > On the other hand inner and outer control and the rest, along with
> > absence
> > of pride and other qualities (prescribed at Gita XIII.7), are mere
> > auxiliaries, and there is no set limit to their observation. They
> > are
> > intended for carrying knowledge to perfection, and whatever has
> > that for its
> > purpose is itself an aspect of being established in knowledge
> > (GYAna
> > niShTha). Hence, when we speak of resort to the means of knowledge
> > coming to
> > an end when knowledge is acquired, it does not mean that these
> > auxiliaries
> > also come to an end.
> >
> The above is irrelevant in the GYAnimAtra-sthitapraGYa distinction.
> The context that SSS mentions the above is the case of sthitapraGYa,
> where the "auxiliaries" mentioned are the natural characteristics of
> the sthitapraGYa. This is not a reference to effort made by the
> GYAnimAtra.

If only a sthitapraGYa is being referred to, then what does the expression
"carrying knowledge to perfection" mean in the above quote? Knowledge is
discrete, i.e., you either have knowledge or not. There are no grades in
knowledge. Thus, the above could not have referred to knowledge, but to
establishment in knowledge.

Also, the context of the above quote is a seeker and not a sthitapraGYa. The
title of the chapter is "The limits of spiritual practice" in which the
different practices for a seeker of brahmaGYAna are discussed. In fact, the
last sentence in the above quote "when we speak of resort to the means of
knowledge coming to an end when knowledge is acquired, it does not mean that
these auxiliaries also come to an end" show -- (a) that the seeker is being
considered here, (b) even after acquiring knowledge, the inner and outer
discipline need to be carried out for "carrying (the acquired) knowledge to

> Pg. 159, ch. 3, sec. 59, quote 15
> > SSS refers to BSB 4.1.15
> >
> The BSB 4.1.15 does not speak of the GYAnimAtra, but of the
> sthitapraGYa. Even Sankara himself says so, even using the term
> "sthitapraGYa" in his commentary.

I do not have the shAN^kara bhAShya in Sanskrit on this quote. But I am
surprised that even for a sthitapraGYa (according to the definition of
sthitapraGYa by SV), "wrong knowledge, though cancelled, may continue for a
time through the force of impressions (saMskAra)".

> Pg. 160, ch.3, sec. 59, quote 16
> > SSS refers to Br.Bh. 1.4.10
> >
> This again is a reference to the state of the sthitapraGYa and not
> the GYAnimAtra. As SSS says in page 156:
> "It is simply a matter of knowing one's own true nature through the
> removal of the metaphysical ignorance that obscures it...There is no
> break in the knowledge of the Self of such a knower, even when he
> conforms to the erroneous vision of the world, for he is merely
> conforming to what he knows to be an error."

Are you saying that this is not the case with a GYAnimAtra? Even according
to SV, GYAnimAtra  has samyak.h aparOkSha brahmaGYAna, right?  So, how did
you conclude that the above refers to a sthitapraGYa, and not a GYAnimAtra.

The very title of the section refers to a "firm establishment in the
> Self".

I am not sure how you concluded that the GYanimAtra is not being referred to

> Pg. 145, ch. 3, sec. 55, quote 10:
> > The duty laid down for his order (**wandering monk**) is in fact
> > establishment in (firm adherence to) a steadfast absorption in the
> > Absolute,
> > fortified by inner and outer control and other such disciplines.
> >
> I don't see how the distinction between steady and unsteady
> BrahmaGYAna follows from the above.

If the AtmaGYana were to be steady, then there would be no need for further
effort in any practices (for attaining vAsanakShaya and manOnAsha). But the
very references to discipline even after attaining brahmaGYAna show that it
is intended for firm establishment in brahma.

I am deleting the discussion on another quote. Maybe we can focus on the
above for now.

> ---------------------
> >
> > And as regards the paJNchapAdika, you reasoning was essentially,
> > H.H.
> > supports JMV which supports paJNchapAdika, and since H.H. is
> > jIvanmukta,
> > paJNchapAdika is authoritative (by the above chain of "supports").
> >
> Not so.
> Re-read my posting:
> "As I've pointed out, the VivekachUDAmaNi actually follows the JMV
> quite closely, and H.H. even quotes the JMV as an authority in his
> commentary."
> I'm basing the relationship between the VivekachUDAmaNi and the JMV
> on the following primary fact-
> Primary Fact: "VivekachUDAmaNi follows the JMV closely (i.e.
> doctrinally)."

Is it the case that you consider vivEkachUDAmaNi as authoritative, and the
fact that it follows JMV makes JMV authoritative? Traditionally,
vivEkachUDAmaNi is ascribed to shaN^kara, while SSS ascribes it to
shaN^karAnanda. If you feel vivEkachUDAmaNi makes JMV authoritative
(presumably by borrowing from it), that would make vivEkachUDAmaNi a later
work (in other words, not of shaN^kara's pen). And SSS made the point that
much earlier works like the paJNchapAdika are not in line with shaN^kara,
then why should we even consider the vivEkachUDAmaNi (a much later work) to
be in line with shaN^kara.

> > The point is that jIvanmukti is no guarantee of shrOtriyatva, and
> > claims that prior advaitins have erred in their interpretation of
> > the vEda
> > (and not necessarily that they were not jIvanmuktas).
> This is all very interesting -- are you saying that advaitins like
> VidyaraNya were NOT shrotriyas? Do you have any proof for such a tall
> claim?

At the outset, let me make it clear that "I" am not saying anything. I have
been trying to understand the differences between the tradition and SSS. And
SSS did say that prior advaitins and advaitin works (starting from the
paJNchapAdika) deviated from shaN^kara. And this means that they
misinterpreted the prasthAnatrayi. And hence, according to SSS, they could
not be shrOtriyas (where the term is taken to mean correct knowledge of the
interpretation of scripture).

> In other
> > words, again
> > AFAIK, SSS makes the case that mUlAvidyA is a deux ex machina for a
> > consistent interpretation of the vEda. And even assuming that SSS
> > did
> > consider H.H. a jIvanmukta (I am not sure if he does/does not),
> > unless H.H.
> > explicitly affirmed such a mUlAvidyA in his own perception (clearly
> > not the
> > normal sensory perception, but probably some kind of meditative
> > perception),
> > SSS's objections still stand.
> >
> The objections, IMHO, are valid if and only if SSS gives conclusive
> proof that the doctrine of the pa~nchapAdikA CANNOT IN ANY WAY be
> interpreted as being in line with Sankara's works.

By the very words "CANNOT IN ANY WAY", there is a connotation that,
potentially, there is a gap in shaN^kara's thought and the later works. In
other words, while the later works do not contradict shaN^kara in letter,
there is a good chance that they are not faithful in spirit. To give an
example, consider the advaitin and the dvaitin interpretations of the
prasthAnatrayi. I am not sure if "the doctrine of dvaita vEdAnta cannot in
any way be interpreted as being in line with the prasthAnatrayi".

Even otherwise, take the example of mUlAvidyA. If no one has any experience
of the existence of such an entity, one might as well take another theory
that does not resort to mUlAvidyA. In other words, the rule of Occam's

As I've pointed
> out, the JMV *appears* to contradict Sanakra's works, but is actually
> perfectly in line not only with Sankara's works, but all of shAstra.
> To dismiss the JMV merely because it propounds a difference between
> AtmaGYAna and mukti is quite meaningless,

I am not sure if SSS disagrees with the above distinction. AFAIK, the
differences lie mainly in the bhAva or abhAva nature of avidyA.

just as it is meaningless
> to dismiss the pa~nchapAdikA because it speaks of such a thing as
> mulAvidyA.

As I mentioned above, it's Occam's razor. Why talk of something when there
is no need to?  (Please note that I am not very familiar with the importance
of mUlAvidyA in the tradition. Right now, I do not see the use of it. So, my
question is also to know more about it, rather than just dismissing it).

> To paraphrase the argument, mUlAvidyA is either perceptible or not.
> > If not
> > perceptible, it's at best a theoretical tool which might as well be
> > done
> > away with (per SSS).
> I'd like to know what is meant by "might as well be done away with".

A consistent theory of advaita vEdAnta which does not make an appeal to
mUlAvidyA. This is what I mean.

I can argue that curly-brackets {} can be "done away with" in
> Mathematics, because it is perfectly possible to prove all theorems
> using only round brackets () and square brackets [].
> But does my contention invalidate the proof of a mathematician that
> utilizes curly brackets?

Note that this is just syntactic sugaring (i.e., human convention). If a
machine were to be given this task, one would eliminate all needless things,
and get it down to the bare minimum. So, the question is, "is mUlAvidyA
simply syntactic sugaring? Or is there a fundamental importance attached to
it in the tradition?"



> If it's perceptible (through meditation
> > presumably),
> > then that would seriously challenge SSS's claims. Could someone
> > maybe point
> > out if any jIvanmukta made any such claims about the perceptibility
> > of
> > mUlAvidyA?
> I don't think I'm in any position to take up a discussion on the
> above topic now.
> As far as I'm concerned, there is still not an iota of evidence to
> show that SSS did indeed comprehend the difference between steady and
> unsteady AtmaGYAna.

> Thanks.
> >
> > A.Siddhartha.
> Regards,
> Kartik

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