[Advaita-l] FW: Avidya, Jnanis and SSS' views

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 29 16:18:42 CDT 2010

> praNAms Sri Karthik prabhuji
> Hare Krishna
> No one, as far as I know, admits of degrees of saMyak-GYAna.
> > Yes, but there is gradations in brahma jnAni-s like brahmavida, 
> vareeya, varishTa etc. as per vyAkhyAna prasthAna & prakaraNa grantha-s 
> written by later advaita Acharya-s. And more importantly there is a point 
> of stress that the jnAna in these jnAni-s are not mere intellectual 
> understanding, it is indeed brahma jnAna only. What does it mean then?? 

May I reiterate (at least for the third time on this list) that the term
"brahmavidAM varishTha" is from the muNDakopanishat? It is not an 
innovation of post-Sankaran authors of vyAkhyAna-s and prakaraNa-s.
May I also point out (again, at least for the third time here) that as
per standard grammar, the word varishTha presumes grades of vara
and varIyas. It is like good, better and best - you cannot talk of the
best without admitting the merely good and the relatively better. And
here, the Sruti itself is talking of the varishTha among brahmavit-s.
In case the point is lost somehow, this means that Sruti itself is the
authority for talking of the brahmavit, -vid-vara and -vid-varIyas.

I have never seen any comment in the past about what I have posted
on this list about this Sruti reference and the bhAshya on it by Sankara.
There is not a single sentence from him about whether the upanishat
usage of the word varishTha is merely a praise of brahmajnAna/jnAnI
and nothing about whether this is from the vyAvahArika standpoint of
an ajnAnI. I would encourage you to read this bhAshya with an open
> BUB 1.4.7 talks of avidyA remaining undestroyed even after saMyak-GYAna.
> > No prabhuji, actually this maNtra bhAshya talks about 'jnAna daurbalyaM' 
> and the efforts need to be adopted/practiced to maintain the intensity of 
> this jnAna & protect it from the onslaught of karma...

Clarification -  it talks of jnAna-pravRtti-daurbalya, not of jnAna-
daurbalya. There is a major difference, so long as you accept that
there is something worth talking about as jnAna-pravRtti! As you
have never tired of reminding us (not that we need any reminding),
jnAna does not admit of stages. There can be no talk of intensity of
jnAna either and there is no relative weakness of jnAna per se. And
what is this about an onslaught of karma on jnAna? No amount of
effort, being purusha-tantra, can protect or harm the vastu-tantra
jnAna. I never expected such a major amount of misunderstanding.

Here is the correct situation - unlike what you think is the opposite
position, we do not talk of stages within jnAna or weakness/intensity
of jnAna. What we DO talk about is the relative weakness or intensity
of jnAna-nishThA for a person in whom samyag-jnAna has arisen. We
can talk about it precisely because we admit of gradations of the
brahmavit, -vid-vara, -vid-varIya and -vid-varishTha. What can be
weak or strong, depending on the prArabdha and vAsana/saMskAra
of a given jnAnI, is the relative ability to be established undisturbed
in that jnAna, the state of brahmaNy eva avasthAnam. And unlike
what your paksha misunderstands of the opposite paksha(s), nobody
in the Sankaran line claims that post-jnAna meditation results in a
new jnAna that is needed for moksha. Rather, it seems to me that
what they are talking about is based on an appreciation of how
jnAna culminates in its own anubhava-avasAna.

Of course, a large part of the stabilization of the buddhi/citta that
is needed for this anubhava-avasAna reeks of the dreaded dualistic
yoga, with all the attendant talk of samAdhi, nirvikalpa or otherwise,
so you wouldn't want to go there! But unless you accept that though
jnAna is one, there is room to talk of different kinds of jnAnI-s, you
haven't understood Sankara properly. Clearly, he accepts that even
after the rise of samyag-jnAna, the deha and manas/buddhi/citta with
the force of their prArabdha karma-bhoga and their saMskAra-s can
disturb jnAna-nishThA, if not the content of the jnAna itself. And this
is not from the perspective of the ajnAnI observer at all, but only from
that of him in whom samyag-jnAna has already arisen. That is why he
can even talk about Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati and tyAga-vairAgyAdi-
sAdhana after the rise of samyag-jnAna. Memory (smRti) can only be
of that which has been already known, never of anything unknown.
So, the one for whom this smRti is recommended as a niyama is the
one in whom samyag-jnAna has arisen. That is why he can further go
on to agree that this smRti itself leads to citta vRtti nirodha. Note that
he is not afraid to use such a loaded yoga term here. That is also why
he can unhesitatingly describe dhyAna-yoga as "samyag-darSanasya
antaranga" in the gItAbhAshya.

> // quote //
> Na kashchidapi sambhAvyo yathoktanyAyagauravAt ।
> Vidhiryato ‘bhyupagmAniyamoktiriyam tataH ॥ [BUBV1.4.922] 
> Uktam cha nyAyamApekshya niyamo’tyantadurlabhaH ।
> Vidher daurbalyasiddhyartham ato bhASyakriduktavAn ॥
> // unquote //

It seems to me that your understanding of the bhAshya-s and the
vArttika arises from being "more Catholic than the pope", to borrow
a phrase from a different religious culture!

These vArttika verses have to do with technical mImAMsA definitions
of apUrva vidhi and niyama vidhi. We can get into a detailed discussion
of vidhi and nishedha if you like, but that is a separate discussion. For
our context, to be brief, unlike what you misunderstand of your opposite
paksha, nobody says that there is any apUrva vidhi upon a jIvanmukta,
whereas it is Sankara himself who admits the niyama vidhi AFTER the
rise of samyag-jnAna. sureSvara points out that it is on an admittedly
weak basis, because the jnAnI knows he is not an agent (kartA).
However, note that he does NOT reject the content of the niyama
vidhi. In the naishkarmyasiddhi, he admits that this can be seen as a
parisaMkhyA vidhi as well (niyamaH parisaMkhyA vA vidhy-artho 'pi
bhaved yataH). Nor does he say anywhere that the vidhi-interpretation
is merely a concession made to inferior intellects. Finally, the third
chapter of naishkarmyasiddhi concludes, after a long and extensive
refutation of prasaMkhyAna-vAda, with an affirmation that the advaita
teachers do accept a vidhi for SravaNa - tvam-arthasya-avabodhAya
vidhir apy ASrito yataH (3.126). So, it is not as if accepting a vidhi ends
up in jnAna-karma-samuccaya-vAda or in prasaMkhyAna-vAda.

In not one single place do Sankara or sureSvara say that even the
dhArana of the deha for a jnAnI is only from the perspective of an
ignorant observer. In not one single place is there a statement to
the effect that the dhyAna-yoga of gItA chapter 6 is a concession
to inferior intellects. If they had meant it that way, they would have
definitely said so. There are numerous other places where Sankara
explicitly describes one or the other upAsana as being prescribed for
those with manda-madhyama buddhi and so unable to comprehend
the tattva of nirguNa brahman, e.g. in the 8th chapter of gItA with
respect to dhAraNa-yoga on the auMkAra. So, they wouldn't have
shied away from saying something similar about the deha-dhAraNa
and the mithyAjnAna-anuvRtti after the rise of samyag-jnAna too,
if that really was their intention.



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