[Advaita-l] avidya part 8

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Sat May 1 10:19:14 CDT 2010

We continue to examine excerpts from Shankarabhashya on the Brahmasutra, to understand His presentation of avidya and maya. 
....(Since Shruti)...shows that the jiva is not different from Brahman.
Yes - this is the Purvapakshin talking! He is arguing that let us consider the jivA to be identical with Brahman. Why does he adopt this stance? He wants to then turn the tables on the Vedantin by showing that ....
Therefore the creative power of Brahman belongs to the jiva also, and the latter, being thus an independent agent, might be expected to produce only what is beneficial to itself, and not things of a contrary nature, such as birth, death, old age, disease, and whatever may be the other meshes of the net of suffering. For we know that no free person will build a prison for himself, and take up his abode in it. Nor would a being, itself absolutely stainless, look on this altogether unclean body as forming part of its Self. It would, moreover, free itself, according to its liking, of the consequences of those of its former actions which result in pain, and would enjoy the consequences of those actions only which are rewarded by pleasure. Further, it would remember that it had created this manifold world; for every person who has produced some clearly appearing effect
remembers that he has been the cause of it. And as the magician easily retracts, whenever he likes, the magical illusion which he had emitted, so the jiva also would be able to reabsorb this world into itself. The fact is, however, that the jiva cannot reabsorb its own body even. As we therefore see that 'what would be beneficial is not done,' the hypothesis of the world having proceeded from an intelligent cause is unacceptable.
This is a common argument against advaita_  if jiva be Brahman then why is he in sorrow? And that too all the time? Why is there Evil and Death in this world, if every jivA everything be nothing but The Lord?
Shankara replies:
That omniscient, omnipotent Brahman, whose essence is eternal pure consciousness and freedom, is different from the embodied Self, and That alone is the creative principle of the world.

The faults specified above, such as doing what is not beneficial, and the like, do not attach to That Brahman; for as eternal freedom is its characteristic nature, there is nothing either beneficial to be done by it or non-beneficial to be avoided by it. Nor is there any impediment to its knowledge and power; for It is Omniscient and Omnipotent.

The jivA, on the other hand, IS of a different nature, and to it the mentioned faults adhere. But then we do not declare it to be the creator of the world, on account of 'the declaration of difference.' For scriptural passages (such as, 'Verily, the Self is to be seen, to be heard, to be perceived, to be marked,' Bri. Up. II, 4, 5; 'The Self we must search out, we must try to understand,' Ch. Up. VIII, 7, 1; 'Then he becomes united with the True,' Ch. Up. VI, 8, 1; 'This embodied Self mounted by the intelligent Self,' Bri. Up. IV, 3, 35) declare differences founded on the relations of agent, object, and so on, and thereby show Brahman to be different from the individual soul.
The opponent can scarcely conceal his glee, as here is Sankara Himself declaring that the jivA is different than Brahman. Anxious to not miss an opportunity to dismiss tat tvam asi he Immediately interjects thus -
Are there not other passages declaratory of non-difference (for instance,'That art thou'), How can difference and non-difference both be possible, being contradictory?
Sankara very patiently reiterates his position
The possibility of the co-existence of the two is shown by the parallel instance of the universal ether and the ether limited by a jar.

Moreover, as soon as, in consequence of the declaration of non-difference contained in such passages as 'that art thou.' the consciousness of non-difference arises in us, the transmigratory state of the jiva - jivasya samsaritvam and the creative quality of Brahman - Brahmansasya Srshtrtvam vanish at once, the whole phenomenon of plurality, which springs from wrong knowledge - mithyajnanavijrambhitasya , being sublated by perfect knowledge - samyag jnanena badhitatvat, and what becomes then of the creation - kuta eva Srshti and the faults of not doing what is beneficial, and the like? For we have explained more than once that this entire apparent world, in which good and evil actions are done, is an illusion, owing to the non-discrimination of limiting adjuncts, viz. the assemblage of the body and senses, and so on, which are a creation of name and form - namarupa-krta - which are presented by Avidya - avidyapratyupasthapita. In reality -
 Paramarthatah - it does not exist. This is analogous to the mistaken notion - abhimana -we entertain as to the dying, being born, being hurt, of ourselves. And with regard to the state in which the appearance of plurality is not yet sublated, it follows from passages declaratory of such difference (as, for instance, 'He is to be sought for, He is to be enquired into" Ch 8.7.1) That Brahman is superior to the individual soul; whereby the possibility of faults adhering to it is excluded.
The difference between the jiva and Brahman is purely based on the upadhis or limiting adjuncts. The jivas jivatvam, his smallness, etc and Ishwara's Ishwaratvam His Omniscience etc are all on the basis of only upadhis - in essence they are as non-different as is Universal Space and Space enclosed in a pot.
The jiva thus is a helpless victim, that is prone to, and is made to suffer through, the entire samsaric sequence of evils such as birth disease decay death etc etc. Why? Because of his error - his erroneous notion of separation of individuality or ahankara. And what is the cause for this jiva - in essence, pure, unsullied, consciousness, everfree, to harbor such a pitiful notion of insignificance and bondage - it is nothing but a Power - of AvidyA or Maya. Thus alone is mAyA the creative principle of this variegated Universe.
Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyo namah


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