[Advaita-l] Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (15)

Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna puttakrishna at verizon.net
Fri Feb 16 18:29:02 CST 2007



" sri vishNu vishvAdi mUla mAyAlOla

dEva sarvEsha parabommanendu janam

Avudanu kANadoDa-maLtiyim nambihudO

A vichitrake namisO - Manku Timma "


Sri VishNu, the source of the Universe

Who revels in mAyA and is the Lord of all things

Whom men though they know Him not, believe and revere

Salute that Mystery - Oh Manku Timma   (manku Timmana kagga - 1).


This mystery that we think is - Brahman, is the subject of our study.


In the discussion of jagat, we understood that its svarUpa is Brahman,
though its appearance in names and forms is the empirical experience. 

In order to understand Brahman, we will follow the Jagat to its kAraNa, when
we expect to understand Brahman in its real form. If there is a doubt to the
existence of Brahman, chAndOgya upanisaht narrates a story. The guru,
understanding that his disciple is doubtful of Brahman, asks him to fetch a
pot of water. He asks the disciple to add a fistful of salt to the water.
Next morning, the guru asks the disciple to fetch the same pot of water that
he had added salt the previous evening. The guru asks him to take out the
salt, which obviously he could not do. The salt has dissolved in the water.
The guru said, never mind! there is another way to understand the presence
of salt in the water. He asks the student to take a spoon of water from
different sections of the pot and drink each of those spoonful of water,
which the student followed; On enquiry, he then replied that each spoon of
water was salty, which confirmed the presence of salt in the water. The salt
had transformed from the gross form to the subtle form in the medium of
water. However, what could not be seen by the eye (gross form) was perceived
by the tongue (subtle form). The guru tells the student, likewise Brahman,
which is subtle can be experienced in the gross jagat through enquiry. This
enquiry is facilitated by ignoring the names and forms of the kArya (effect)
and focus on the substratum, which is Brahman.

 It is easy said than done to ignore the names and forms, because (1) the
sense organs directed outwards ( parAnchi KAni vyatruNat svayamBUh tasmAt
parAng pashyati -kaTa upanishad 2.1.1) explores names and forms. So we are
surrounded by Brahman in the form of names and forms and we will have to
identify this Brahman amidst us. The shAstrAs help us with two contrivances
- vishEShaNa and lakshaNa - to help us understand Brahman.

vishEShaNa is that characteristic by which an object can be separated (or
marked out) from other objects that belong to the same class. Examples are
the color of a flower that distinguishes it from other flowers, like yellow
color separating a yellow flower from red flower. Yellow or red color is the
vishEShaNa among the class of flowers. Similarly the thick soft skin in the
neck of a cow is the vishEshaNa that distinguishes the cow from other four
leg animals.

lakshaNa is a marker (or a quality) that separates an object from all
objects that does not belong to its class. 

For example, space allows all objects to be contained in it, yet none of the
objects have this quality of space. So the lakshaNa of space is to contain
all objects. Similarly receptivity is the quality or marker of an ocean
which receives water from all rivers and streams. No other object has this
characteristic. Therefore, receptivity is a lakshaNa of ocean. 

In the following sections, we will apply the markers of vishEShaNa and
lakShaNa to separate Brahman from the multitude of nAma and rUpa.

There are two classes of vishEShaNas - bhAva rUpa (of the type of "is") and
abhAvarUpa (of the type of "is not") - we will use to sort out Brahman from
the names and forms.

Among the class of humans, it is evident we have knowledge (we engage in
actions, because of knowledge). Brahman, being the creator, also has
knowledge. So Brahman and humans belong to the same class. Infinity is the
bhAvarUpa vishEShaNa that separates Brahman from humans; humans have limited
creativity, whereas Brahman has infinite creativity; humans have limited
knowledge, while Brahman is omniscient (infinite knowledge); humans
accomplish partial desires, Brahman's accomplishments are total and
infinite. bhaga is a group of six characteristics, the possessor of which is
bhagavAn. They are jnyAna (Omniscience), bala (Omnipotence), aishvarya
(lordship or sovereignity), shakti (creative power), vIrya (immutability)
and tEjas (splendour). Brahman with the upAdhi of mAyA is bhagavAn, who has
all these qualities infinitely. This infinite wealth is what separates
Brahman from names and forms of humans. Thus infinity is the bhAvarUpa
vishEShaNa of Brahman that separates Him from the humans.


Now let us look at the abhAva rUpa vishEShaNa of Brahman. Brahman is
described as

apahatapApma vijarO vimrutyu vishOkO vijiGhatsO apipAsaha  - (IshAvAsya
upanishad - 8);

brahman is not affected by dharma and adharma, he is not subject to oldage,
he is not subject to death, he does not have sorrow, hunger and thirst. A
human is affected by dharma/adharma, is subject to oldage and death, has
sorrow, hunger and thirst. For all these human qualities of "is", Brahman
exhibits "is not". So "is not" is the abhAvarUpa vishEShaNa that separates
Brahman from humans (of names and forms).


We have understood from the above that the vishEShaNas "infinite and "is
not" separate Brahman from the humans, the most evolved of the names and
forms of Brahman. 


Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).



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