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

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 20 12:05:12 CDT 2010

> Namaskarams and thanks for contributing your points. My point is academic,
> nothing to do with getting emotional. I am merely presenting pramANas from
> bonafide AcAryas in the history of our tradition, and questioning whether
> certain points discussed here stand the scrutiny of these pramANas. I would
> welcome if you or anyone can academically refute these points and reconcile
> the statements of the AcAryas at the same time.

So long as the point is academic, consider the following. These are just
my own thoughts and should not be taken as representing any of the
"bonafide AcArya-s" in the tradition. As I have disclaimed so often in the
past, I do not wish the mantle of guru/AcArya to be thrust upon me at
this stage and I will withdraw from further discussion on this topic after
posting this.

There is a parallel between a regular jIva and an avatAra.


1. brahman is one, jIva-s are many. Each jIva is really brahman, but still
appears vastly different in so many ways. In the course of transmigration,
the jIva is deluded and is ignorant, but the delusion and ignorance of the
jIva are only an "as if". The omniscience and omnipotence and any other
positive attribute one could positively attach to brahman are not thereby




2. ISvara is one, avatAra-s are many. Each avatAra is really ISvara, but
differs in form, context and other details. Every advaitin worth the name
knows that rAma's actions in the rAmAyaNa are only an "as if". His ISvaratva
is not thereby affected, only temporarily put on hold for the purposes of the
avatAra. To my knowledge, the traditional advaita AcArya-s do not expand
upon the nature and differences among avatAra-s. I have not found any
speculation about arcAvatAra, amSAvatAra-s and pUrNAvatAra from the
advaita authors. As such, I find it totally unremarkable that sarvajnAtman
or someone else emphasizes the ISvaratva of the rAmAvatAra, while
vidyAraNya would point to the episodes where rAma behaves like an
ordinary human being.

To debate whether a particular avatAra is "really" deluded or is "really"
play-acting is, beyond a point, very ridiculous. Step away from the notion
of an avatAra and consider the jIva. No jIva is "really" deluded or is "really"
ignorant. Philosophically or academically speaking, there is nothing to
distinguish an avatAra from any regular jIva. No two jIva-s are alike within
vyavahAra and all sorts of hierarchies of superior and inferior are possible,
but all are the same in paramArtha. One can compare an avatAra in a very
straightforward way to a highly evolved and superior jIva. When one AcArya
gives an example of rAma's actions as being deluded by mAyA, it is to drive
home the point to listening jIva-s that "such and such is the effect of mAyA
even upon the most superior people who have gone before you and your
delusion by mAyA is similar". When another AcArya emphasizes that rAma
is really ISvara, it is to drive home the point to any listening jIva that
notwithstanding the failings of the human role you play in this life, you
are really the nirviSesha brahman.


To say that a "normal" jIva is deluded while an avatAra is "only" play-acting is
to fundamentally misunderstand advaita and to create alternative realities
that are unwarranted. The ignorance and delusion of every jIva is also only
lIlA, only naTana, only an "as if". It is not real. If ajnAna were real, it could
never be completely removed. If one could step out of time and put
sarvajnAtman and madhusUdana sarasvatI and vidyAraNya into the same
room, I guarantee that one will find they all agree with one another on this,
because they always keep this fundamental thrust of advaita central to their

I hope you get the point, which is well worth reiterating. Even when various
advaita AcArya-s talk of mAyA having power over the jIva and being under
the control of ISvara, the power of mAyA over the jIva is not a real and
eternal thing. If it were, the jIva would never be able to realize ahaM
brahmAsmi and get out of his or her jIva-hood. The power of ISvara over
mAyA is also not a real and eternal thing, because otherwise there would
be no non-duality of ISvara who is brahman. So, making all these distinctions
about whether an avatAra was really deluded by mAyA or not is meaningless
in a fundamental way.



ps. To be totally frank with you, the word "bonafide" causes my brain's Geiger
counter to go beep-beep-beep very loudly. Coupled with your email ID, the
loud beeping becomes very rapid too!

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