[Advaita-l] SSS, avidyA, shrI Ramakrishnan

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Sun May 20 09:27:23 CDT 2007

On 5/19/07, S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:
> --- Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:

> > -- 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).
> That is then another point against SSS: why did he say at one point
> that the mind does the superimposition of the Self and not-Self, and
> at another say that the mind itself is part of the not-Self?

Absolutely. I myself have quoted a passage where he talks about
pramaatR^i, pramaaNa and prameya being superimposed on the self, but
also calls it a *MENTAL* superimposition in the very same line! See
one of the footnotes and also my wrap -up on avidyaa. What I object to
is being quite imprecise philosophically. And indeed this is what I
mean by obsession with *textual analysis and terminology*, and not

The book by Alston was not used for a good reason. It contains
analysis of later advaitins (quite flawed in my opinion, contains
gross misinterpretations of padmapaada), and is a translation of
Alston's understanding of SSS. In using that, I would have to get
sidetracked by refuting SSS's misunderstanding of later advaitins, and
also constantly wondering if Alston misinterpreted SSS (look at the
hard time I got for using just one translated passage). One of the
things I wanted to completely avoid was the usual silly polemics on
mithyaa+j~naana versus mithyaa+aj~naana and concentrate on the the
essentials. This is reason I had completely avoided Alstons book. But
note that my first 2 quotes on avidyaa are from SSS's own introduction
to this tome!

Alston's book is not even published by the kaaryaalaya. I have 100s of
quotes from SSS own books, where he calls avidyaa as epistemic and a
mental superimposition, and also quoting upanishadic passages where
the mind is said to be not the self! So should I ignore the previous
statements about avidyaa being mental and epistemic? No, I have given
a fair analysis and have quoted *both*, unlike Annapurna, who quotes
one arbitrary passage, and then writes a patronizing email to me. And
in fact, as Kartik points out the whole point of the paper is you
cannot have avidyaa being epistemic, and the mind being superimposed
on the self at the same time.

I have only one question to ask of people touting Alston's book, has
anyone read the anubuutiprakaasha of VidyaaraNya or Padamapaadas work
to actually check-up? Alston writes in his article called "Samkara
East and the West" (which I recently obtained) various things, which
has made it clear to me that he is also quite deficient in his
understanding of later advaitins. So in foresight (a) and hindsight
(b), I wisely avoided Alston's book:

a. Avoiding childish debates on parsing of words, etc.
b. Getting into arguments about a translation of a misinterpretation
of later advaitins, translated by a person who himself is deficient in
his understanding of later advaitins!

More on that topic will be included in my next version of the paper.


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