[Advaita-l] Basic questions & neophyte's answers !!! - part-1

Bhaskar YR bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Thu Jul 8 05:26:42 CDT 2010

Hare Krishna 

At the outset, I would like to clarify that since I donot want my guruji 
Sri Vidya prabhuji to waste his time in replying to this mail, I am not 
addressing his questions directly to him... But it is his instruction to 
me that I have to share my understanding on the following questions.  I am 
just doing this in a very brief way for my self-satisfaction. If anybody 
feels that my reply here is NOT (a) a deliberate misunderstanding of the 
siddhAnta just to pull legs of others or (b) deliberate misrepresentation 
of shankara siddhAnta with some hidden agenda or (c) a strawman argument, 
then he/she welcome to share his/her understanding / opinion.   

1. What do you mean by "intellectual understanding" of Atma-jnAna? 

>  Intellectual understanding of Atma jnAna is that textual understanding 
of the upanishad siddhAnta, memorizing it, discoursing it, writing mails 
on the definitions of Atma jnAna by fluently quoting shruti, smruti, 
bhAshya vAkya-s with flowery language & sometimes with questionable 
language also, which we, most of us doing here in this forum and other 
forums...It is just like a professional lecturer or professor lecturing 
his mastered subject and quotes & explains intricacies of the subject off 
hand...In vedAnta vAngmaya, a shrOtreeya vedAnti comes under this 
category...In short, intellectual understanding of Atma jnAna is nothing 
but 'understanding' of any other objective knowledge (vishaya jnAna) which 
remains in mental compartment just like any other material knowledge.  And 
whenever it needs verbatim expression/communication it comes out naturally 
& as fluently as his own name & date of birth :-))

2. If Atma-jnAna is a special thing that does not involve the intellect at 
some stage,
   can even SravaNa (let alone manana and nididhyAsana) reveal it? 

>  manasaivedamAptavyaM neha nAnAsti kiMchana says kaTha, 
pragEkatvavijnAnAt AchAryagama saMskrutena manasaiva, shAstrAchAryOpadesha 
shama damAdi saMskrutaM manaH Atmadarshane karaNAM says pUjyapAda...so, I 
am not denying the role of 'susamskruta' mana at the sAdhana stage of the 
brahma jignAsu.  Can mere shravaNa of shAstra vAkya reveal this Atma jnAna 
to the jignAsu??  shankara tells when this shravaNAdi direct sAdhana-s to 
be undertaken by the mumukshu...sUtra bhAshya 1-1-1 is quite relevant 
here.  Now the question can even shravaNa reveal the Atma-jnAna?? shankara 
in mUndaka says : taThA iha paravidyA vishaye, vAkyArthajnAna samakAla eva 
tu paryavasitO bhavati, kevala shabdaprakAshita ArThajnAnamAtra nishTA 
vyatiriktAbhAvAt...An able uttamAdhikAri can attain jnAna by merely 
hearing the shAstra vAkya coz. jnAna is vastu tantra and shAstra would 
reveal this jnAna during shravaNa through pratishedha vAkya 
pramANa...However, there are madhyama & manda adhikAri-s in sAdhaka-s they 
need sharvaNa, manana & nidhidhyAsana.   

3. What then, is the role of mind/intellect in jnAna? 

>  As said above susamskruta mind which is puriried through shamadamAdi 
sAdhana is the 'karaNa' for the Atma darshana or avidyA nivrutti or 
jnAnOtpAdana..But here point to be noted is we are talking about our 
ignorance about our svarUpa jnAna or ignorance concerning the brahman or 
the real non-dual nature of ours, so obviously it cannot be a function of 
the mind, which has jnAnAbhAva, vipareeta jnAna or saMshaya of an object. 
Atma jnAna cannot be or never be the object (vishaya) of the intellect or 
mind!!  But whenever we say mind is karaNa etc. we have to understand that 
since there is no other instrument of knowledge than mind with which we 
can talk about ourselves as ignorant (ajnAni) or jnAni, we give this 
anAtma vastu a status to know our svarUpa.  But the role of mind/intellect 
after discharging its duties would dissolve and becomes Atman only in the 
jnAni...Here procedures like 'dissolve' become should not be taken in 
literal sense...It is mere a teaching device to drive home the point that 
there was/is/will be nothing apart from THAT. 

4. Does jnAna arise at all, or does it always exist and only needs to be 

>  svarUpa jnAna or our svarUpa is not a fresh event in the mind. 10th man 
knowledge does not bring 'new' tenth man there, it is only the realization 
that 10th man was already there....it is bhUta vishaya only...it ONLY 
needs to be uncovered..Hence shankara calls 'phalAnubhava' as pramiti, 
avagati, anubhUti, chaitanya, etc. And in sUtra bhAshya he clearly asserts 
that Atman or self as is well known is no adventitious thing for any one, 
for he is self-established..So arising of this jnAna is nothing but 
realizing that we are not paricchinna...This eradication of ajnAna itself 
is called jnAnOtpatti.  ajnAnavyavadhAna nivartakatvAt jnAnasya mOkshO 
jnAnakAryaM iti upacharyate...na cha ajnAnavyaterekeNa mOkshasya 
vyavadhAnAntaraM kalpayituM shakyaM...says shankara in bruhadAraNyaka.   

5. If it arises, does this arising happen in an instant? 

>  Again arising of jnAna is nothing but eradication of ajnAna...that 
which removes this ajnAna without any trace no matter whether it is 
instant one or first one or last one or continuous one...that is called 
vidyA...shevaketu needed nine times upadesha from uddAlaka to know this 
truth...Irrespective of gradual effacement of ajnAna or instant arising of 
jnAna, as long as there are doubts (saMshaya),  as long as we are having 
vipareeta pratyaya, as long as there is absence of svarUpa jnAna 
(jnAnAbhAva) there is no samyak jnAna...ya eva avidyAdi dOsha nivrutti 
phalakrut pratyayaH AdyaH, antyaH, santataH asantatO vA sa eva vidyA 
clarifies shankara in bruhadAraNyaka... 

6. If it is only uncovered, does this uncovering happen in an instant? 

>  I think this question is same as 5 but framed differently, so no need 
for any fresh explanation. We can say uncovering is instant in a sense 
that we are not going to have gradual knowledge like first I got rid of my 
ajnAna about the hood of the snake but still seeing the body & tail of the 
snake and at the second stage middle portion of the snake i.e. body is 
gone now & I can see the 3/4th of the rope now but tail of the snake is 
still bothering me.. 
4 x 3 = 12 is an instant knowledge if it is imparted through an able guru 
to able shishya...it is not a gradual process from 11.5 to 12 :-)) Any 
stage between 11.5 to 12 is ajnAna only that is what shankara says in the 
above bhAshya vAkya. 

7. In either case, is it absolutely impossible that it may take some time? 

>  An uttama adhikAri may get the knowledge in an instant (like gun powder 
which immediately catches the fire), a madhyama & adhama adhikAri may 
require repeated shravaNAdi sAdhana-s, in these cases we cannot ignore the 
possibility of time gap...

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