[Advaita-l] Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (17)

Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna puttakrishna at verizon.net
Mon Feb 26 12:25:05 CST 2007

In Unit 15, we started with the understanding of Brahman; we reviewed the
vishEShaNa , vishEShya relationship.

In Unit 16, we reviewed the lakShaNas that help us understand Brahman.

In this Unit, We will look at some of the scriptural statements describing


Scriptural Statements on Brahman.


As much as we are unable to comprehend and understand Brahman, challenging
Him is a challenge to our own existence. It is the statements of shruti
that, though Brahman can not be marked, He is the substratum that supports
all activities in this jagat. Knowing Him is the basis of existence. The
shruti points at some of the markers that help us understand Brahman. We
will review some of those markers in this Unit.


kaTha Upanishat - 3.12

" Esha sarvEShu bhUtEShu gUDhO AtmA na prakAshatE

drishyatE tvagryayA buddhyAsUkShmayA sUkShma-darshibhih  - The Atman, though
present in all living beings, is hidden and does not shine forth. However,
He reveals His presence to the subtle intellect of the discerning person."
The Atman, though present in all living beings supporting the sense organs,
is invisible through the power of mAyA to the ignorant jIvas. He is visible
only to the jIvas with the subtlety of discernment. We may recall here
Krishna's statement in gIta 7.25 - enveloped by My yOgamAyA (cosmic
illusion), I am not manifest to all; this world, deluded, knows Me not, the
unborn and imperishable.


kaTha Upanishat - 3.10

" indriyEbhyah parA hi arthA arthEbhyascha param manah

manasastu parA buddhih buddhEh AtmA mahAn parah - The outer sense organs are
gross. The sense objects of sound, touch, form, taste and smell are subtler
than the sense organs. The mind that processes these sense objects is
subtler than the sense objects. The intellect is subtler than the mind. The
Atman, referred here as mahAn (Great Atman) is subtler than the intellect.
In Verse 3.11, this chain of thought is expounded further as follows - The
Unmanifest is beyond (subtler than) the Great Atman, the PuruSha is beyond
the Unmanifest. PuruSha is the supreme goal and there is nothing beyond Him.


kEna upanishat - 1.1 and 1.2

"kEnEShitam patati prEShitam manah

kEna prANah praTHamah pryiti yuktah

kEnEShitAm vAchamimAm vadanti 

chakShuh shrOtram ka u dEvO yunakti - The disciple asks of the teacher - by
whose will does the mind proceed to its object? At whose command does the
prANa, the foremost do its duty? At whose will do men utter speech? Who is
the god that directs the eyes and the ears?"

" shrOtrasya shrOtram manasO manO yad

vAchO ha vAcham sa u prANasya prANah

chakSuShah cha chakShuratim uchya dhIrAh

prEtyAsmAh lOkAt amrita bhavanti - the teacher replies - it is the Ear of
the ear, the Mind of the mind, the Speech of the speech, the Life of the
life and the Eye of the eye. Having detached the Self (from the sense
organs) and on discarding of the body (renounced the world), the wise attain
to immortality.


mAndUkya upanishat - 2.11

" ubhayOrapi vaitaThyam bhEdAnAm sThAnayOh yadi

ka EtAn buDhyatE bhEdAnkO vai tEShAm vikalpakah - if the objects cognized in
both the conditions of dream and of waking be illusory, who cognizes all
these illusory objects and who again imagines them? The answer is in the
next verse that the self-luminous Atman alone is the knower of the objects
created through the powers of its own delusion (mAyA).


MunDaka Upanishat - 2.2.7

" yah sarvajnyah sarvavid yassyaiSha mahimA bhuvi

divyE brahmapurE hi ESha vyOmanyAtmA pratiShThitah - He who knows all
(omniscient) and understands everything, and to whom belongs all the glory
in the world, He, Atman, is placed in the space in the effulgent abode of
Brahman." (He assumes the forms of the mind and leads the body and the
senses. He dwells in the body, inside the heart. By the knowledge of That
which shines as the blissful and immortal Atman, the wise behold Him fully
in all things).


Bhagavad gIta - 13.16

" avibhaktam cha bhUtEShu vibhaktamiva cha sThitam

bhUtaBhartru cha tat jnyEyam grasiShNu prabhaviShNu cha - That which is to
be known (jnyEyam) is undivided, yet exists in beings as divided; It is the
supporter of all beings, it is destroying and also generating - creator and
destroyer. (Verses 13-13 to 13.17 describe the characteristics of That to be


kaTha Upanishat - 5.15

" na Tatra SUryo BhAti Na Chandra tArakam
nEmA vidyuto BhAnthi Kutoyamagnihi
tamEva BhAntam anuBhAti sarvam
tasya BhAsA sarvam idam viBhAti - The nature of Brahman is such that the
Sun, the Moon and the Stars do not have the ability to illuminate Him; so
what to talk about the lightening and fire ? He alone makes others shine and
His Shine helps everything else to be seen. This Pure Consciousness is
described as Brahman, which is the nature of every living being. "

For example if there is an object in a room, it by itself has no intrinsic
ability to show itself. It needs the help of a light source like the sun
light through the windows or a lamp or light bulb to be seen. Likewise, the
above mantra says that even the Sun by itself has no intrinsic ability to
show itself. It depends on the effulgence of the Pure Consciousness to be
seen. The upanishads affirm that, that entity, which does not need the
support of any other agent to be seen is Brahman.


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



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