[Advaita-l] The essence of advaita

prabha prabhagc at gmail.com
Fri Sep 21 13:47:29 CDT 2007

Pranams Sastriji and all others on this site,

I am a relative novice and am having difficulty understanding much of this.
I would greatly appreciate it if you or anyone else could answer these
(elementary) questions. If these have been answered elsewhere, kindly point
me there.

These are basic tenets of Advaita:

   1. There is only Brahman, nothing else.
   2. The Universe is merely an illusion, it is superposed on Brahman –
   it appears to be there, but is not.

If the above is true, to whom does the illusion occur? I am not asking WHY
there is the illusion or WHO is causing it – I accept that it is due to Maya
– but to WHOM is the illusion happening?

   1. Since we (Jivaatmas) are inside the Universe, we are part of the
   illusion, hence cannot be the observers as the illusion cannot observe
   itself.  Is this statement incorrect?
   2. Brahman cannot be the observer since the substratum cannot be the
   observer (just as the rope is not the observer - the human is). Is this
   3. If  Jivaatma is the observer are we not saying that Jivatma is
   distinct and different from Paramaatma (the Brahman) which contradicts the
   first axiom that there is only Brahman, nothing else?
   4. If we say that Jivatma is having this illusion and also accept the
   fact that Jivaatma and Paramaatma (Brahman) are one and the same, are we not
   saying that Paramaatma having the illusion, hence is not all knowing since
   illusion/ignorance cannot happen to the omniscient?

Kindly forgive my ignorance. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you all.


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