[Advaita-l] SSS, avidyA, shrI Ramakrishnan

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Sat May 19 05:52:23 CDT 2007

I see no reason why. I have better things to do, quite frankly. I have
given quotes from SSSs *own* works where he holds avidyA to be
*epistemic*. In fact, I believe one of the quotes is from the
introduction to this text (published separately by the kaaryaalaya)
you mention below :-). The whole point is that he talks about two
things self and non-self, and inexplicably holds avidyaa, the
superimposition of the real and unreal to be epistemic. If you
"believe" this is not adequate for you - too bad. The quotes are
there, and that is the FACT. There is nothing for you to believe or
not-believe, except check page #s to check up :-).

Why are you bringing up anirvacaniiya, etc.? Did I ever say anything
about it in the paper?

Also, I am afraid you have not understood section 1 in the first
place, much less section 2. As I pointed out, it was written for a
purpose, and I suggested reading it twice. This point is philosophy,
and not comparing a catalog of commentarial references. This is best
done by looking at works where the author has *tried to define his
understanding of avidyaa is*, as much as possible in his own words.

In my original rules file, I mentioned I wanted a discussion on
philosophy and not a "Sears catalog" of commentarial references.
Ravisankar suggested to me that non-american readers would not get
what I meant by Sears catalog. I think you are in the US, so you might
get it. In fact, I had exactly this book in mind when I was talking
about a Sears catalog of commentarial references. IMO, the books is
just that, nothing more. Perhaps such works appeal to you, but there
is no reason why I should use that, and not other works by SSS. When
looking at an authors works, you have to examine his entire corpus and
not some arbitrary book alone. This is like saying "hey can you give
references from the bR^IhadaaraNyaka bhaaShya alone and not from the
upadeshasaahasrii", when the approach should be exactly the

I will take a charitable approach and assume you are not trying to
just sling mud at my paper like the other people who have tried to.
Conveniently, you had not followed the discussion on avidyaa, if you
did you would have noticed that the celebrated disciples on this list
even very recently talked about superimposition of "the real and
unreal" being performed by the mind (just as SSS does in his books). I
can lend you my collection of books by SSS, if you don't have access
to the other books. Send me a mail and we'll work out details on how
to do that if you are interested.


On 5/19/07, Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:
> praNAm shrI Ramakrishnan,
>          This mail is with regard to your paper (which I could not get
> to earlier because of other commitments). Some caveats before I point
> out the issues. I have not followed the discussion between shrI Siva
> Senani and shrI Bhaskar in any detail, and if there is something
> already discussed, please feel free to point it out (although, I feel
> the issues being discussed are different). Also, I read only till the
> end of section 2 (but going by your rules file, I presume that is just
> fine). On to the issue:
> You stated the position of SSS to be "avidyA is the mutual
> superimposition of the real and unreal by the mind" (Pg. 8 of your
> paper, just before the summary on avidyA). I feel this is not the case
> at all. I feel SSS said "avidyA is the mutual superimposition of the
> real and the unreal (unreal also includes the mind btw)", which you
> also hold to be a tenable position. Let me point out the reasons why:
> -- If the superimposition is done by the mind, there would be three
> "ontological" categories, namely brahma (the real), the jagat (the
> unreal), and the mind which superimposes the real and the unreal. But
> I have not yet come across any statements of SSS which so much as
> discuss the nature of such a mind. What's its status in paramArtha? It
> cannot be real (as nirguNa brahma would not be advitIya then) or
> unreal (because we claimed it to be different from the jagat which
> comprises the unreal). Thus, it should be something like
> anirvachanIya, and I have not seen such an exposition from SSS (yet).
> Also, given the number of debates on this issue, I would be highly
> surprised if this issue was not pointed out earlier and if SSS did not
> have a position on it.
> -- SSS always talks of two "entities" - Self and not-Self (Method of
> Vedanta, translation by A.J.Alston ch.3, sec. 23, pg. 47). Nowhere
> does mind figure as a separate entity (mind, notion of jIva etc. are
> subsumed under anAtma, non-Self). And the third quote in this section
> above explicitly refers to the notion of jIva being a product of this
> superimposition. I can give you other quotes from svAmi
> GYAnaprasUnEndraji's refutation of Martha Doherty's paper, but let me
> know your position first before we can proceed.
> -- I have read the relevant parts of the method of vEdAnta
> (translation by A.J.Alston) before your paper came out, and I
> understood avidyA to be a superimposition of the real and the unreal
> (where unreal also includes the notion of aham as jIva). Thus, this
> idea (of superimposition being done by the mind) is either presented
> in the other books you quoted, or is entirely your own
> (mis-)understanding of SSS. Since I only have access to the method of
> vEdAnta, it would be great if you could give references from this book
> to substantiate your position.

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