[Advaita-l] A few observations on current discussion threads

jagannathan mahadevan jagannathan.mahadevan at gmail.com
Mon Mar 19 01:06:10 CDT 2007

The sentence about Atma gyAna in the last paragraph should read as :
"gradations in the steadiness of Atma gyAna" instead of "gradations in
Atma gyAna."

On 3/18/07, jagannathan mahadevan <jagannathan.mahadevan at gmail.com> wrote:
> Please see below for a minor note.
> On 3/16/07, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I would like to tie together and comment upon a number of issues that seem
> > to be exercising people's minds on the discussion threads currently going on
> > in the list.
> >
> > 2. My own perspective on sampradAya is that it is dynamic and living, but it
> > is not hostage to personalities. The force of personaity of some people
> > leaves a greater impress than others, but that is part of the nature of
> > things. Yes, Sankara bhagavatpAda is the prime figure in the sampradAya, but
> > he himself does not claim that what he says is true because he is a
> > brahmajnAnI. In all of the thousands of pages that his works run into, he
> > has only one sentence that hints at his personal anubhava. He bases all his
> > writing on the solid foundation of the upanishat texts.
> >
> I do understand that for the purposes of formal instruction it is not
> possible to convey experience (just as sweetness cannot be conveyed in
> words). But I tend to believe that whatever Sankara wrote, he wrote it
> with experience and subsequent realization also. It is not possible to
> simply write a bhASya by repeating the upanishads without personally
> experiencing what it says.
> It is very obvious that Sankara took every debate seriously and went
> to the depths of the issues concerned. Below is a quote from the
> advaita vedanta website which shows Sankara resorting to experience in
> one of the debates:
> <quote>
> Sankara's debate with viSvarUpa was unique. The referee at the debate
> was viSvarUpa's wife, bhAratI, who was herself very well-learned, and
> regarded as an incarnation of Goddess sarasvatI. At stake was a whole
> way of life. The agreement was that if viSvarUpa won, Sankara would
> consent to marriage and the life of a householder, whereas if Sankara
> won, viSvarUpa would renounce all his wealth and possessions and
> become a sannyAsI disciple of Sankara. The debate is said to have
> lasted for whole weeks, till in the end, viSvarUpa had to concede
> defeat and become a sannyAsI. bhAratI was a fair judge, but before
> declaring Sankara as the winner, she challenged Sankara with questions
> about kAmaSAstra, which he knew nothing about. Sankara therefore
> requested some time, during which, using the subtle yogic process
> called parakAya-praveSa, he entered the body of a dying king and
> experienced the art of love with the queens. Returning to viSvarUpa's
> home, he answered all of bhAratI's questions, after which viSvarUpa
> was ordained as a sannyAsI by the name of sureSvara. He was to become
> the most celebrated disciple of Sankara, writing vArttikas to
> Sankara's bhAshyas on the yajurveda upanishads, in addition to his own
> independent texts on various subjects.
> <unquote>
> If Sankara himself had to experience first the art of love before
> entering into a debate, where is the question of us debating on
> whether there are gradations in Atma gyAna without experiencing it
> first. If I said apples taste sweet, then most of us will agree to it,
> because we all have "eaten" an apple at some point. If I said
> "jadalabala" fruit is bitter, then how many of us can really attest to
> that claim in a debate without experience? My personal take on this
> debate is that we (All of us!) are putting the cart before horses.
> Sincerely,
> Jagan.

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