[Advaita-l] What's the nature of the sense organs?

Bhadraiah Mallampalli vaidix at hotmail.com
Fri May 1 09:34:01 CDT 2009

Dear Suresh, 

A few more thoughts.

Sense organs are no different from any other entities/devas. The sense organs may be optionally placed higher or lower than ourselves or equal to us. 


Every sense organ is a higher deva because it offers us food as we depend on it for information about external world. Every sense organ is a form of food/subordinate for us because we can direct them towards achieving our needs and wants. There are also times when we identify with the sense organs themselves. This is only for a fraction of a second for ordinary people, but experts can do this at will. This happens when we become their self (Br.U.III.9.13 s'akalya asks: '..whoever knows this person whose loka is ear ...') 


Likewise this computer is a sense organ too.. only through this you perceive the WWW. It is a higher deva as it nourishes your mind, it is a food as you direct it anyway you want. Yes you can also become its self when achieve unity with it and see the creation as one. 
A higher deva creates Maya which looks like a mystery or miracle for us (Br.U I.4.10). Dismissing this Maya outright is commiting sacrilege towards the devas. The only remedy is to become self of the devas. 


We create Maya for entities/foods lower than us, and this Maya makes us believe we are superior to the lower entities (Br.U I.5.1). Dismissing this Maya outright is also incorrect because otherwise we will be giving brahmajnana to all and sundry who are not eligible for it. The only remedy is to become self of the foods. 


When we become the self of an entity higher or lower than us, the corresponding Maya is dismantled without any defect. As we see multiplicity in nature, we have to become self of all to remove the multiplicity of Maya. Sankara Bhagavatpada knows the folly of outright dismissal of Maya, so he treats Maya with dispassion, more like a business partner, rather than something to be amazed about and worshipped as a higher miracle or something to be rejected as lowly entity compared to one self.
At object-end, ghata and pata being made of five elements, and apparently outside of our BMI complex, are easy to dismiss as Maya. Sense organs (and karmendriyas etc) being physical interfaces with the external world we think they are necessary part of life, so we can't imagine being without them, hence the difficulty in resolving them. Again at personal end, we think devas like Vishnu, bRhaspati etc are also somehow dispensable simply because they are not directly felt like sense organs or not seen like objects. It is folly to get dismiss anything whatsoever. We only have three choices: make a complete model by including the object in a model (poorNamidam approach), reject it with neti-neti and directly realize Brahman or at least go one higher level of conditional Brahman, and the third alternative is to become self of the entity.   
There was also the well known story of sense organs and prANa trying to leaving the body. The purpose of this was to show that the prANa is higher than all of the devas. prANa is the self of all, variously called as nArAyaNa. 



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