[Advaita-l] The essence of advaita

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Tue Sep 25 01:52:21 CDT 2007


The fact that we are in bondage and consider ourselves to be limited
creatures is undisputed. Vedantic teachers say that you must concentrate on
how to get out of this bondage instead of trying to find out why and how
this bondage arose. The Br.Up. 1.4.10 says that Brahman knew itself as "I am
Brahman" and then it became all. It is brahman itself which became the world
and all the jivas. Why should it have done so? Why should it have itself
become the universe and all the jivas and then suffered, is a question for
which the only answer can be that it is to enable the jivas to experience
the results of their karma. But why should Brahman have voluntarily taken up
this bondage and become the jivas? There is no answer. The upanishads start
from the indisputable fact that we are in bondage due to avidyA and only by
vidya we will become free from bondage. We are Brahman even now , but now we
are ignorant of this fact and consider ourselves as limited jivas.  If we
are not Brahman now, we can never become Brahman by knowledge, because
knowledge cannot change facts or the nature of an entity. It can only remove
wrong knowledge or error. So it follows that the jiva is none other than
Brahman and it is Brahman that appears as the jivas.

Is not ignorance out of place in Brahman? This objection has been considered
in the Bhashya on the above Br.Up. Mantra. The answer is, "Not so, for
knowledge regarding Brahman has been enjoined". That means that the very
fact that Brahman became all, that is, it realized its real nature by
knowledge, shows that because  of ignorance it, as jiva, was considering
itself to be other than Brahman.

You should not extend this to argue that it affects the omniscience of
Brahman . Brahman is by definition pure consciousness.
As Swami Chinmayananda once pointed out, "The student should keep on
studying without asking questions in the beginning itself, but should note
down his doubts. After he has progressed sufficiently he will find that he
has got the answers to all his doubts".
Best wishes for good progress in your study of advaita,


> The Atman forgets its permanent (true, sat, nitya) nature of Brahman
> and gets associated with the fleeting (untrue, asat, anitya) phenomenon
> that the world is, due to mAyA.

I have great difficulty with this concept. Since Brahman is pure, complete,
knowledge (omniscience), is it not reasonable to argue that it could not be
deluded by anything including power of Maya (which itself is not separate
from the Brahman)? If Brahman could be (prevailed upon), then one could
argue that Brahman is not omniscient or omnipotent? Could you kindly explain
where I am going wrong?


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