[Advaita-l] How to begin studying Advaita Vedanta: Post 3 of 3

yajvan yajvan at san.rr.com
Sun Jan 17 17:28:57 CST 2010

hariḥ oṁ

Post 3 of 3


A brief review
In post 1 and 2 advaita as 'not two' . The non-difference of the individual, the world ( universe) and brahman. This implies ekaṁ sva advitīyam¹ , one without a second. This reality is sometimes viewed as saguṇa and nirguṇa ( form and formless) brahman ; moving and Moveless. 

I also mentioned in post 2, the notion of avidya and māyā . This for lack of a better term is a 'linguistic' device used to explain how this Unity or ekaṁ sva advitīyam, is seen as multiplicity - all that we see and experience.  The notion of ignorance (avidya) and that of māyā are the concepts that are used, But these concepts are also an actual personal experince. Do we not see diversity? Many-fold-ness of this world... i.e. multiplicity.

Here's the pickle 
We have this part of a world of diversity in our vision every day - what is missing in our vision is the wholeness of Being, fullness ( bhūman) of brahman. When this is missing, we are considered ( by the wise) living in avidyā - ignorance. The ignorance of not knowing or seeing the total picture of the world and its structure. When one uses the word illusion for this , it is NOT suggesting the world and its view is unreal it is saying you are deluded by what you see, as if the only thing to see is diversity of creation. You are missing the wholeness ( pūrṇa or fullness) of creation as a total unitary environment. This is māyā called out in advaita vedānta.

Because this whole māyā notion has gotten too much attention , it is almost thought of as the theme of advaita vedānta. Those critical of advaita vedānta tend to call advaita vedānta āyāvāda. Hence advaitin-s ( those practicing this darśana ) are considered māyā-vādins. 

The critic's notion for this name? - explaining (vāda) why one experiences diversity (māyā) is high on the discussion list of advaita vedānta, so they say . This māyā-vādin epithet is not considered complementary as it misses the overall theme of advaita vedānta, ekaṁ sva advitīyam.

I am not in this camp of critical thinkers. suggest more complimentary name, brahma-vāda and hence brahma-vādin-s, as Fullness (bhūman), sattā, are always on the advaitin-s lips.

A more advanced view would also consider ...
Now some would add the concept of adhyāsa ¹(imposition) and vivarta-vāda (illusory appearance discussion) to the mix of avidya. This helps explain one's experiences in the world of apparent duality, but this again is outside a thumbnails view of advaita vedānta brief. 

For me, the core of advaita vedānta
Liberation while living - jīvanmukti. This is the core of advaita vedānta i.e. That is, the sum total of all wisdom and practices one may engage in, should deliver that person to the end (anta) state of non-duality (a-dvaita), of Brahman, of the Supreme ( anuttara). For what else is the veda engaged in, other then Totality ( Brahman).

My teacher would always talk of living the wholeness of life. For the listener still anchored in avidya, he would say experience 200% of life…the fullness of nirguṇa and saguṇa Brahman. 

Words used in the 3 posts offered:

pronoucing advaita - advaita is aud-vai-ta or uhd-vahy-tuh. Care to hear this word? see this url: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/advaita 
advaita is composed of a + dvaita; a अ= not ( like 'un' in English) + dvaita द्वैत= duality , duplicity , dualism = not (a) dual (dvaita). 
ekaṁ or eka एक- one and the same , solitary , single + sva स्व- one's own + advitiya अद्वितीय- without a second 
adhyāsa अध्यास- imposing; the in vogue term is considered super-imposition 
vivarta विवर्त- 'the revolving one' 
darśana दर्शन- view , doctrine , philosophical system 
māyā माया is illusion one is familiar with; it also means two meters; mā is measure
* māya माय - is measuring; rooted in mā is measure, to measure accoss, etc.
* maya मय - is rooted in mī and mā; mī to lose one's way , go astray ; to lessen ,
  diminish , destroy ; mā is measure , binding ; ma is time
For me, I keep this māyā simple - it is the notion that the infinite is measured out, is metered out. As if one can divide Infinity into parts. This is the illusion... that the Infinite (brahman) becomes finite in things; as if the Infinite can be constrained to parts.

jalpa - disputed banter; a kind of disputation (overbearing reply and disputed rejoinder)

End of Post 3


-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org [mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org] On Behalf Of Jaldhar H. Vyas
Sent: Sunday, January 17, 2010 1:05 PM
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta
Subject: [Advaita-l] How to begin studying Advaita Vedanta

Re: [Advaita-l] New members
On Mon, 11 Jan 2010, Michael Shepherd wrote:

> Jaldhar
> In the absence of an index for this site -- though new members could 
> pursue much through the existing system -- what would be you personal 
> recommendations for study of Advaita Vedanta other than the obvious -- 
> to find the apppropriate guru, or just to read Adi Shankara's chief writings ?
> Any book or online info that stands out for you ?

One should begin by getting atleast a little bit familiar with Sanskrit. 
I freely admit that mastery of the subject is hard work but even basic knowledge reaps great profits.  As we often see on the list, translations can be inaccurate.  Even if the translator is diligent (and alas not all of them are.) it can be hard to capture all of the nuances of a Vedantic concept in another language.  If you know some some Sanskrit you will be better able to assess the quality of a translation.  Probably the most easily available book is "Teach Yourself Sanskrit" by Michael Coulson, McGraw-Hill, ISBN: 978-0071468527

You will also need a dictionary. I suggest V.S. Apte's "The Student's Sanskrit-English Dictionary", Motilal Banarsidass, 81-208-0044-1

To get a handle on the history of Advaita Vedanta (Including the controversies that have recently preoccupied the list) I recommend "The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies", edited by Potter et al., It has two volumes of interest, "Volume III: Advaita Vedanta Up to Samkara and His Pupils" and "Volume XI: Advaita Vedanta from 800 to 1200".  (a third volume is planned covering 1200 to the present.)  There is a bibliography volume but a more uptodate bibliography is maintained online at http://faculty.washington.edu/kpotter/xhome.htm

For shastras, I have previously mentioned the 10 volume "Complete Works of Shankaracharya" published by Samata Books (http://www.samatabooks.com/) as being the canonical collection of Shankaracharya's works but it is Sanskrit only. The most readily available and generally good quality translations are those published by the Ramakrishna Mission.

As for online resources, why www.advaita-vedanta.org of course!

These recommendations are for learning the "facts" of Advaita Vedanta. 
But moksha comes from "experience" not facts alone.  For that one should find a guru.  It is not something you can get from books or the Internet.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com> _______________________________________________
Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/

To unsubscribe or change your options:

For assistance, contact:
listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list