[Advaita-l] jnAna-vijnAna, gradations in Atma jnAna, superior-inferior jnAna nishTa etc. etc. PART-III

bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Fri Mar 9 02:59:06 CST 2007

Hare Krishna

Due to time constraints & non-availability of the system, Part-III has
inordinately been delayed.  Kindly pardon me for that...Here in this mail
we shall discuss bruhadAraNyaka maNtra 3-5-1 and corresponding shankara's
bhAshya vAkyas etc.  Sri Karthik prabhuji has replied my Part-I mail in a
firing mood :-)) Sri Narayana Murthy prabhuji & others  also have made some
comments subsequently.  I shall address those very shortly.

First, I shall take the mUla maNtra of the upanishad.   On the 31st Jan
2007 Sri Karthik prabhuji had quoted bruhadAraNya mUla maNtra & some
bhAshya vAkya-s. Now, we shall examine the maNtra & bhAshya vAkya more
carefully & let us see whether bramavit (the knower of brahman) here refers
to brahma jnAni of the highest order & his subsequent efforts to maintain

With regard to Sri Karthik prabhuji's quote Apsthamba Dharma sUtra &
Haradatta's commentary on it...I humbly admit that  I've not studied ADS &
its commentaries from my guruji, Hence, I am not in a position to comment
on it...I am skipping that portion & directly coming to upanishad maNtra.

Sri Karthik prabhuji's quote :

BR^ihadaaraNyaka upanishhad 3.5.1

Although this reference does not exactly distinguish between
AtmaGYAna and mukti, it does speak of effort to be made after
AtmaGYAna to attain steadiness in it.

bhaskar :

Yes, here the context is not to show us that the difference between jnAni
mAtra & brahma jnAni.  Moreover, The AtmajnAna that referred here in the
first instance (in the first part of the maNtra) does not meant to describe
the characteristics of the *true jnAni*.  How it is so??  That we shall
come to know as we go further in understanding of this upanishad bhAshya

Karthik prabhuji:

As we saw in the previous posting, SV quotes this verse to emphasize
vidvat-sannyAsa, for it speaks of giving up of desires *after* AtmaGYAna.

bhaskar :

Interestingly, shankara bhagavadpAda speaks about 5 types of saNyAsi-s in
his prasthAna trayi bhAshya.  *vidvat* saNyAsa is one type of saNyAsa which
shankara hardly described & he has not mentioned the term *vidvat saNyAsa*
...but he has dealt in detail with regard to other types of saNyAsa like
paramArtha /sarvakarma saNyAsa, vividishA saNyAsa, saNyAsa in the form of
karma phala tyAga, smArtha saNyAsa...the only remote reference for this
type of saNyAsa one can find in bruhadAraNya (4-5-15) at the concluding
part *yAjnAvalkyo vijahAra*.. But traditionally we can believe that there
is vidvat saNyAsa...since somany advaita Acharaya-s used this term
precisely.  But this saNyAsa is not a *vidhi* like mumukshu saNyAsa...This
vidvat saNyAsa can happen while one in gruhasthAshrama itself but for the
sake of social welfare & to guide ignorants properly he may further go to
antyAshrama...but for the jnAni whether he is in gruhasthAshrama or
saNyAsAshrama his jnAna about his svarUpa does not get affected a
bit...shankara says this in gIta bhAshya : svaprayOjana abhAvAt,
lOkasaNgrahArthaM pUrvavat karmaNi pravruttOpi *naiva* kiNchit karOti!
jnAnAgni dagdha karmatvAT tadIyaM karma akarmaiva saMpadyAtE...Yes, a jnAni
can be seen doing all types of karma, he may be cutting the vegetables &
cooking like ramaNa, he may be a ruling king like janaka, he may be a
saNyAsi like shankara or he may be a butcher like dharma vyAdha or he may
be a outcast like vidhura..but his karma is burnt to ashes by jnAna.  Hence
his karma is akarma only.  vidvat saNyAsa should be understood in that
spirit it is not like a mandatory vidhi that jnAni should follow even after
attaining ultimate knowledge of Himself.

Let us continue with Karthik prabhuji's observation.

Karthik prabhuji:

  etaM vai tam AtmAnaM viditvA brAhmaNAH putraishhaNAyAshcha
  vittaishhaNAyAshcha lokaishhaNAyAshcha vyutthAyAtha
  bhikshAcharyaM charantIti .

  "Having realized this very Self, BrAhmaNas give up desires for
  offspring, wealth and heaven, and take to mendicancy."

The BU quite clearly speaks of the renunciation of desires after
Self-realization, i.e:

  AtmaGYAna --> Renunciation of Desires

  bhaskar :

  Here *AtmAnaM viditvAt*  cannot be interpreted as *self-realization* in
  absolute sense becase while talking about subsequent part of this maNtra
  i.e. pAnditya, bAlya, mouna shankara clarifies this. yEshaNa traya tyAga
  is a *vidhi* and this injuction cannot be applicable to the jnAni, since
  jnAni's jnAna itself sublates the wrong notion that he is pramAtru or
  kartru...Since upanishad talking about vidhi-s, renunciation of desires
  (putra, vitta, lOka) the AtmajnAna referred in the first instance here
  cannot be  shrutivAkya janita paramArtha jnAna.

  Karthik prabhuji:

Objection: The BU verse only speaks of the third person's view of the
GYAnI, i.e. others see the GYAnI as taking up sannyAsa, but the GYAnI
is already free of desires.

Reply: That is untenable, because the BU statement does not speak
merely of giving up wealth, but of GIVING UP THE **DESIRE** for
wealth. It is perfectly possible for a person to give up all wealth
and start begging (to "set an example" for others), but still
maintain the desire for wealth. Since desire is always "felt" only in
the first person and not the thid person, this BU verse speaks of the
GYAnI himself as giving up desires.

bhaskar :

Yes, I agree with you as said above, since this jnAni has been instructed
to renounce the desires the BU maNtra speaks about jnAni who does not
belong to highest order of jnAna.

Karthik prabhuji:

Sankara in his commentary on this verse admits that the word
"BrAhmaNa" can be taken to refer to the knower of Brahman:

  tasmaat.h pUrve BrAhmaNA Brahmavido...

  "Hence the BrahmaNas of the past, the knowers of Brahman..."

Sankara then clarifies that it is the knower of Brahman who renounces

   yasmaat.h pUrve brAhmaNA etamaatmaanam.h asaadhanaphalasvabhaavaM
   viditvA sarvasmAt.h saadhanaphalasvarUpaadeshhaNAlakshaNAd.h
   vyutthAya bhikshAcharyaM charanti sma ...

  "As the BrAhmaNas of the past, having known the Self that is
  different from the means and results of an action, renounced all
  desires and became mendicants..."

  bhaskar :

  Here punch line is *having known the self*...In what sense this *knowing
  of self* being spoken here??  what is this *knowing*??  the upanishad &
  shankara bhAshya vAkya themselves clarify this *knowing*.

  Karthik prabhuji:

There is no doubt that the BU is referring to a BrahmaGYAnI giving up
desires, and Sankara's commentary is in perfect accordance with the

bhaskar :

Yes agreed...let us see who is this brahmajnAni according to shankara in
this upanishad maNtra.

Karthik prabhuji:

The role of Yoga in BU 3.5.1

The BU verse 3.5.1 discussed above continues:

  tasmAdbrAhmaNaH pANDityaM nirvidya bAlyena tishhThAset.h .
  bAlyaM cha pANDityaM cha nirvidyAtha munir amaunaM cha
  maunaM cha nirvidyAtha brAhmaNaH .

  "Therefore the BrAhmaNa, having known all about scholarship,
  should try to live upon that strength which comes of knowledge.
  Having known all about this strength and scholarship, he becomes
  meditative; having known all about meditativeness and its
  opposite, he becomes a BrAhmaNa (knower of Brahman)."

  bhaskar :

  yes, this upanishat maNtra clarifies the *first brahmaNa*, the
  AtmajnAni..if at all this brahmaNa is an AtmajnAni in true sense as you
  are interpreting above, why is the talk about *scholarship* here??
  Infact *scholarship* (paNdityaM) appears twice here..if this brahmaNa is
  an AtmajnAni, then according to you *after* Atma jnAna he has to acquire
  knowledge about scriptures and gain pAnditya is it not?? No, that would
  not be the case if you seriously look into the context of this maNtra &
  bhAshyArtha...nor this *first* brahmana merely meant to denote cast
  though shankara does refer to the brahmaNa who took saNyAsa....that
  anyway you yourself have clarified below...

  Karthik prabhuji:

Is it not interesting that the upanishhadic statement first begins
with the state of a BrAhmaNa, and then ends by saying that he makes
effort to "become" a BrAhmaNa?

bhaskar :

Yes, it is quite interesting as well as clear that brahmaNa referred in the
first instance cannot be a brahma jnAni in *true sense* and upanishad
suggesting some practices to this brahmaNa to *become* brahmaNa in true
sense...dont you think shankara addressed this issue in *sakAryantaravidhiH
pakshENa trutIyaM tadvatO vidhyAdivat* sUtra bhAshya...prabhuji, I want you
to study this sUtra bhAshya in detail..coz. in this sUtra bhAshya shankara
quite clearly expresses his opinion about this *first brahmaNa* by taking
the reference of this very upanishad maNtra.

Karthik prabhuji:

It is easy to interpret this verse in
line with the JMV: the "BrAhmaNa" mentioned first is indeed a knower
of Brahman, but doesn't have steady BrahmaGYAna.

bhaskar :

prabhuji, kindly note there is no steady & rickety brahmajnAna if you are
talking brahmajnAna here from the ultimate point of view...as said several
times before it simply goes against shruti verdicts like..nEha nAnasti
kiNchana, yEkamEva advitIya brahma...if at all there is steady & floating
brahma jnAna that type of jnAna pertains to saguNOpAsaka-s or aspirants of
krama mukti. Kindly refer shankara bhAshya quoted in my Part-II mail.  And
in this very bruhadAraNyaka maNtra (3.5.1) bhAshya shankara clerly tells
*na cha vidya avidyE yEkasya purushasya saha bhavataH! virOdhAt
tamaHprakAshamiva..there is no question of firm & uncertain jnAna
especially in paramArtha svarUpa jnAna since this knowledge in not an
adventitious thing!!!

Karthik prabhuji:

Reply: Sankara does say that the word "BrahmaNa" can be taken as
referring to the caste (implying that only the BrAhmaNa-caste is
eligible for renunciation), but Sankara also mentions that the
"BrAhmaNa" in the first occurrence refers to the knower of Brahman:

bhaskar :

Yes, again, who is that *knower of Brahman* here in the first instance??
this is the  question that needs to be addressed...if he is already an
AtmajnAni/brahmajnAni & if he is already realized the ultimate, what is the
need for him to cement this jnAna & at the first place *who* is trying to
do this cementing work??  and again, why shAstra pAnditya mentioned here..a
careful & detailed study of bhagavadpAda's bhAshya vAkya clears this doubt.

Karthik prabhuji:

  tasmaad.h adyatve.api brAhmaNo brahmavit.h
  pANDityam.h paNDitabhAvam.h etat AtmaviGYAnam.h pANDityam.h,
  nirvidya niHsheshhaM viditvA, AtmaviGYAnaM niravasheshhaM
  kR^itverthaH - AchAryata Agamatashcha -
  eShaNAvyutthAnAvasAnameva hi tat pANDityam.h ...

  "Therefore, to this day, the BrahmaNa, the knower of Brahman,
  having known all about scholarship or knowledge of the Self,
  from the teacher and the shrutis, having fully mastered it,
  should renounce desires..."

Again note that Sankara takes the word "BrahmaNa" (in the first
occurrence of the word itself) to be a Brahmavit, and says quite
explicitly that a Brahmavit should renounce desires.

  bhaskar :

  dont you think shankara himself answered our question here?? *the knower
  of brahman* who is that?? the person who has the scholarship
  (pAnditya/jnAna)  of brahman through AchAryOpadEsha & shruti-s...Here
  jnAna should be taken as shAstra jnAna & brahmaNa in the first instance
  should be considered as shAstra paNdita who has the Atma pratyaya jnAna
  but has to do further sAdhana like bAlya, mouna etc to *become* Atma
  svarUpa.  Shankara himself clears this expressly in gIta bhAshya (2.11)
  where he says paNdA AtmavishayA bhuddhi yEShAM tE hi paNditAH...and
  subsequently bhagavadpAda quotes this very bruhadAraNyaka maNtra
  (3.5.1)...Here it is very evident that he does not say this paNdita is
  Atma svarUpa brahma jnAni & his further efforts to maintain this jnAna.
  paNdita here means who has the conviction (nishchita buddhi) that he is
  brahman (nischita Atma pratyaya jnAna) note this is only Atma jnAna not
  Atma anubhavAtmaka vijnAna...I hope you know the contextual difference
  between Atma pratyaya & Atma svarUpa in shankara's sUtra bhAshya.  Again
  study the complete bhAshya pertains to *sahakAryantaravidhyAdhikaraNa*.

Karthink prabhuji :

Sankara continues in his commentary on the above:

  BAlyaM cha pANDityaM cha nirvidya niHsheshhaM kR^itvAtha
  mananAnmuniryogI bhavati; etAvaddhi BrAhmaNena kartavyam.h,
  yaduta sarvAnAtmapratyayatiraskaraNam.h; etat.h kR^itvA
  kR^ita-kR^ityo yogI bhavati .

  "Having known all about this strength and scholarship, he
  becomes meditative, in other words, A YOGI.
  What a BrAhmaNa (knower of Brahman) should do is to eliminate
  all ideas of the non-Self; doing this, he accomplishes his
  task and BECOMES A YOGI."

Sankara is saying that:

  Brahmavit --> Renunciation of Desires --> yogI

The BU verse is therefore recommending a BrahmaGYAnI to *become* a
yogI! This is exactly the same as the JMV's teachings,

bhaskar :

Problem with you is you have already taken it for granted that the *knower
of brahman* referred in the first instance in this upanishad maNtra is
absolute brahmajnAni who has to put *efforts* to *maintain/cement* this
jnAna by doing sAdhana-s like pAnditya, bAlya, mouna etc..whereas shankara
bhagavadpAda himself saying in the sUtra bhAshya that *the first instance
brahmaNa* is mere an *intelligent saNyAsi* who has to do all these
sAdhana-s as *vidhi-s* to *become* brahmaNa in true sense...Kindly study
sutra bhAshya of the above referred sUtra with pUrva paxin's observations &
shankara's clarification...You'll come to know who is this *first brahmaNa*
in the upanishad maNtra.

Karthik prabhuji:

because steadiness in BrahmaGYAna is attained by Yoga, as we shall see in a
subsequent posting.

The next posting will take up some other references from the advaita
VedAnta tradition that distinguish AtmaGYAna from mukti.

bhaskar :

I think you have not completed the above task sofar...if you have already
done it, kindly let me know it. Anyway, as you know I am more interested in
shankara's position on this issue.

Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

PS :  My guruji told me that this pAnditya, bAlya & mouna have been
described as shravaNa, manana & nidhidhyAsana in Anandagiri tIkA...Any help
on this from the list members??

Ref :

01.  pAribhAshika shabda kOsha by HH Sri Sri Satchidaanandendra Saraswati
02.  bruhadAraNyaka sUtra bhAshya in II Volumes by Sri SSS
03.  brahma sUtra bhAshya in II Volumes by Sri SSS
04.  mAndUkya kArikA bhAshya by Sri SSS

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