[Advaita-l] Ego, Mind and Body of a Jnani

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jul 13 02:03:40 CDT 2010

On Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 10:09 AM, S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

> --- On Mon, 7/12/10, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Namaste.
> >
> > It is true that a Tattvavit will not have the 'erroneous'
> > identification of
> > the nature of 'I am this' or 'This is mind'.  Yet, a
> > jivanmukta who is
> > undoubtedly with a body-mind apparatus and in vyavahara can
> > and does have a
> > 'knowledgeable' identification with the body or the mind or
> > the intellect
> > purely for the purpose of vyavahara. And this
> > identification alone makes
> > jivanmukti a possibility.
> >
> There is absolutely no question of the sthitapraGYa having the
> "I-am-the-doer" idea. Read for example the gItA 5.8-9 along with the bhAShy
> (courtesy of the Gita Supersite http://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in/ ):
> ---
> ..5.8-9..
> naiva kiJNchit karomiiti yuktaH samaahitaH san manyeta chintayet, tattvavit
> aatmano yaathaatmyaM tattvaM vettiiti tattvavit
> paramaarthadarshiityarthaH..
> kadaa kathaM vaa tattvamavadhaarayan manyeta iti, uchyate -- pashyanniti.
> manyeta iti puurveNa saMbandhaH. yasya evaM tattvavidaH
> sarvakaaryakaraNacheshhTaasu karmasu akarmaiva, pashyataH
> samyagdarshinaH tasya sarvakarmasaMnyaase eva adhikaaraH, karmaNaH
> abhaavadarshanaat. na hi mRRigatRRishhNikaayaam udakabuddhyaa paanaaya
> pravRRittaH
> udakaabhaavaGYaane.api tatraiva paanaprayojanaaya pravartate..
> yastu punaH atattvavit pravRRittashcha karmayoge
> 5.8-9
> Yuktah, remaining absorbed in the Self; tattva-vit, the knower of
> Reality-knower of the real nature of Truth, of the Self, i.e., the seer of
> the
> supreme Reality; manyeta, should think; 'na karomi eva, I certainly do
> not do; kincit, anything.' Having realized the Truth, when or how should
> he think? This is being answered; Api, even; pasyan, while seeing;
> srnvan, hearing; sprsan, touching; jighran, smelling; asnan, eating;
> gacchan, moving; svapan, sleeping; svasan, breathing; pralapan,
> speaking; visrjan, releasing; grhnan, holding; unmisan, opening; nimisan,
> closing the eyes. All these are to be connected with the above manyeta
> (should think). For the man who has known the Truth thus, who finds
> nothing but inaction in action-in all the movements of the body and
> organs-, and who has full realization, there is competence only for giving
> up all actions because of his realization of the nonexistence of actions.
> Indeed, one who proceeds to drink water in a mirage thinking that water
> is there, surely does not go there itself for drinking water even after
> knowing that no water exists there!
> ---
> Krishna stresses that even minor actions like unmiShan and nimiShan does
> not have the imprint of the "I-am-the-doer" thought in the tattva-vit. How
> then can there be any trace of "I-am-the-body" in him?

Actually, we are not disagreeing at all on this.  I have never stated that
the Jnani will have, in the same way an ajnAni has, either the doership idea
or the body-identification.  What I have said, however,is that the Jnani
does not deny anything happening.  Ner does he deny the existence of the
body-mind apparatus, although seemingly they do.  Shankaracharya's own words
are there in the BSB 4.1.15 which we have seen enough number of times.

> > Consider these two cases:
> >
> > 1.  //He who imagines the characteristics of the
> > body and organs to be his own, who has self-identification
> > with the body
> > and the organs, and who, through ignorance, believes the
> > activities to be
> > his own-, he thinks,* 'I am the doer of those diverse
> > activities.'//*
> >
> > [quoted from the Gitabhashya excerpt provided by you]
> >
> > 2. In the Bhagavadgita Bhashya, while writing the
> > introduction,  Shankara
> > says:  tadidam gitAshAstram
> > samasta-vedArthasArasamgrahabhUtam
> > durvijneyaartham.  .....viruddha anekaarthatvena
> > loukikaiH
> > gRuhyamANamupalabhya *aham* vivekato artha nirdhAraNArtham
> > samkShepato
> > vivaraNam* kariShyAmi.*
> >
> I do not consider this to be a serious argument, for Sankara here only
> speaks to a layperson (aka "fool", who still suffers from the identification
> of "I-am-this-body") by stooping down to the layperson's level of thinking.
> This should not be held against Sankara!

It is indeed a strong argument to show that the Jnani does engage in work,
although without the doership identification to the Atman.  He need not make
any such pretences to satisfy or make a 'fool' understand.  Nor is Shankara
stooping down to a layperson's level.  He is only calling a spade a spade.
We cannot close our eyes to the fact.  Does not the Gita verses you have
quoted acknowledge that the senses act in the field of the objects?  When
the Jnani uses the 'I' he knows very well that it is the ego of the anAtma,
a part of the body-mind apparatus that does engage in action. While teaching
his disciples, will not the Jnani use the words: 'Yes, I see your point, but
you have to see the subtle difference here'.  What harm is there if the
Jnani says so?  Surely, he is not referring to the Atman when he uses the
'I'.  He is referring to the teacher, a role that he has donned.  Krishna
even asks the Jnani to engage in lokasangraha work.  He is not asking the
Jnani to get bound in samsara.  He knows how a Jnani will engage in work
without getting attached.  I am not 'holding Shankara's words against
Shankara' as you seem to suggest.  I am not making any accusation or
allegation against a Jnani.  I am only seeing Shankara's words in the most
objective way, the way Shankara Himself has taught in the Bhashya.

> An analogy may help here. A great astronomer may say in the preface of his
> work that he "wrote the book from sunrise to sunset for a month". But if one
> takes these innocent words in the sense that "the astronomer believes in the
> geocentric theory of the sun moving around the earth because he said the sun
> 'rises', which is applicable only in the geocentric model", then this is a
> complete misunderstanding of the astronomer's views.

This analogy only serves to prove my point that the Jnani knows the clear
distinction between the vyAvahArika and the pAramArthika.  When Shankara
writes the Bhashyam He knows very well that it is in the vyAvahArika.  He is
the one who said the entire Upanishadic authority functions in the realm of
avidya.  Where is the doubt that He does not hold His own bhashya to be in
that realm?  I have not suggested that Shankara believes in the absolute
reality of the vyavaharika.  Hence, the conclusion of the above analogy does
not apply to the case on hand.   On the other hand it would be wrong to
close our eyes to the clear instances of Shankara referring to Himself in
the first person, just as Bhagavan does in the Gita.

> >  [Though, to afford a clear view of its teaching, the Gita
> > has been
> > explained word by word and sentence by sentence, ....by
> > several
> > commentators, still* I have found* that to the laity it
> > appears to teach
> > diverse and quite contradictory doctrines.  *I
> > propose,* therefore, t*o
> > write a brief commentary with a view to determine its
> > precise meaning. ] //
> > *
> > Quote No. 1 is an example of an ajnani's expression of the
> > ego.
> > Quote No.2 is an example of a jnani, in this case, Shankara
> > Himself, giving
> > expression to the ego.  In both the cases the use of
> > 'I' is there.  Both the
> > cases refer to some action.
> >
> > Supposing someone asks in an open assembly holding up a
> > sentence from
> > Shankara's Brahma Sutra Bhashya:  'Whose is this
> > sentence?  Who has said
> > this?'.  Supposing  Shankaracharya is in that
> > assembly of scholars, He would
> > certainly reply:  'That is My sentence.  I have
> > said that in the context of
> > Sutra No 1.1.4'.   By this much
> > Shankaracharya would not become an ajnani.
> >
> There are other ways of resolving this - the sentences, the activities,
> etc. were all Ishvara's, with not the slightest bit of
> "I-am-writing-this-bhasshya" ever appearing.

It is not difficult for Shankara to say in plain words 'This Bhashya is all
the activity of Ishwara'.  In fact it is the foregone conclusion of
Shankara, on the lines of Bhagavan, that all actions - saattvik, raajasik
and taamasic - is by prakRiti, maayaa, alone. And Ishwara is none other than
Brahman in association with Prakriti.  Atman has no role in this excepting
being the adhishThanam.  And, as I have clarified earlier, the 'I' is not
the Atman here.  It is the ego that belongs to the anAtman.

Sri Vidyaranya in the Panchadashi has clarified that the Jnani will have the
dexterity to shift, toggle, between the body-mind and the Atman depending
upon the need whether it is vyavahara or paramaartha.  When saying 'I am
hungry', he will refer to the body by the 'I'. Is there a rule that a Jnani
should never say 'I am hungry or I am tired'? While engaged in deep
contemplation of the Atman he will refer to the Atman by the word 'I' (
Shuddho'ham, buddho'ham,  sarvo'ham...)  And Shankara is doing exactly that
while He uses the 'I'.  While it is definitely possible for one to write a
commentary without ever bringing in the 'I', the first person reference,
Shankara chooses to make that reference in a number of places in the
Bhashyam literature.  That is the most natural way the Jnani in vyavahara
functions.  Krishna does that throughout the Gita.  It will be most
artificial, unnatural, to expect a Jnani to never use the 'I' in vyavahara.

> Or, the activities may be going on, but still the thought
> "I-undergo-these-changes" will be absent in the GYAnI.

This is not at all disputed.  My endeavour has been to highlight the
specific use of the 'I' by Shankara and explain it.


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