[Advaita-l] Sannyasa and jnana

Amuthan aparyap at gmail.com
Fri Feb 9 01:10:06 CST 2007

namo nArAyaNAya!

dear shrI vidyAsha~Nkar sundareshan,

On 2/9/07, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar_at_hotmail.com> wrote:
> Yes, but the key point, in my mind, is the phrase "becoming a sannyAsin". In
> most places, Sankara bhagavatpAda tends to qualify samyag-jnAna-prApti (the
> acquisition of right knowledge with the terms, "SAstrataH" - from the SAstra
> texts and "AcAryopadeSataH" - from the teaching of the AcArya. At least
> within the formal tradition of saMnyAsa initiation, the upadeSa of the
> AcArya involves the most fundamental, concise statement of Self-knowledge -
> tat tvam asi, which in turn is of SAstra-ic origin.This also means that in
> Sankara's writing, "samyag-jnAna" need not always be aparoksha (im-mediate).
> ........
> For the latter kind of person, further manana and nididhyAsana, aided by
> tyAga, vairAgya etc., are meant to stabilize this jnAna, as the
> bRhadAraNyaka bhAshya 1.4.7 describes. Or as JMV puts it, there is further
> effort needed for vAsanA-kshaya. I see the two as being more or less the
> same - after all, what the bhAshya describes as "avaSyaM-bhAvinI-pravRttir
> vA^N-manaH-kAyAnAm" is but the result of the vAsanA that is in need of
> kshaya.

this is very interesting. i was under the impression that samyag
j~nAna is always aparokSha (else why add the adjective 'samyak' ?).
according to your method of interpretation, yes, the bRhadAraNyaka
bhAShya under discussion (1.4.7) can be thought of as referring to a
saMnyAsi who is not a j~nAni. but let me provide an alternative
interpretation, which imho fits the context better.

for terminological clarity, 'samyag' j~NAna always refers to
'aparokSha' 'Atmabrahmaikya' j~nAna below.

according to the current definition of samyag j~nAna, there is a
subtle distinction between aparokSha Atma j~nAna and aparokSha-brahma
j~nAna. an aparokSha-Atmaj~nAni knows directly from his own experience
that he is neither the mind nor the body, but is just j~nAnamAtra. but
this does not necessarily imply that he considers this j~nAnamAtra
svarUpa as brahman. an aparokSha brahmaj~nAni is one who in addition
to knowing directly that he is kevala j~nAna svarUpa, also knows that
this j~nAnasvarUpa is brahman. in AchArya's works, since
Atmabrahmaikya is taken for granted based on the shrutIs, the two
words Atmaj~nAna and brahmaj~nAna are used interchangeably. but if it
is kept in mind that this equation is known *only* from the shrutIs,
then it is not difficult to appreciate that Atmaj~nAna is not
synonymous to brahmaj~nAna in the primary sense of the terms. to
reiterate my point in a different way, it is entirely possible that
one attains aparokSha Atmaj~nAna based on vichAra *alone* *without*
the help of shruti pramANa, but atmabrahmaikya j~nAna can*NOT* be
known from any source other than shruti. shruti is the sole pramANa

with reference to AchArya's usage of samyag j~nAna in relation to
shruti, the adhikAri is  one who has aparokSha Atmaj~nAna, but does
*not* have aparokSha brahmaj~nAna. in other words, he knows the 'tvam'
padArtha, but lacks the knowledge of Atmabrahmaikya. only for such an
adhikAri, samyag j~nAnaM shAstrato vA AchAryopadeshato vA sambhavati.
for other adhikArIs, mahAvAkyajanita j~nAna is not 'samyak' since the
meaning of the 'tvam' padArtha is not known to them.

the adhikAri AchArya is having in mind in the bhAShya 'samyag j~nAna
prAptAvapi...', according to this interpretation, is a j~nAnimAtra
(one who has samyag j~nAna). even for such an adhikAri, vAsanA kShaya
may not be effected immediately and hence AchArya's recommendation for
tyAgavairAgyAdi sAdhanAvalambana. in these and similar bhAShya-s,
AchArya predominantly has a j~nAnimAtra in mind and does not come down
to the level of a saMnyAsi who merely has parokSha j~nAna. (of course,
this does not imply that tyAga and vairAgya are unnecessary for them.
for adhikArIs who don't get samyag j~nAna after vedAnta shravaNa,
there is no choice other than doing Atma vichAra until the 'tvam'
padArtha is understood, i.e. until AtmasAkShAtkAra occurs.)

finally, the reason why i think this interpretation is better than the
one which allows for samyag j~nAna to be parokSha is that parokSha
j~nAna is also gained from vedAnta shravaNa by those who don't have
sAdhana chatuShTaya requirements (most of us in this list?). hence
such an interpretation would necessarily make the necessity of sAdhana
chatuShTaya sampatti for samyag j~nAna totally redundant.

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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