[Advaita-l] FW: Avidya, Jnanis and SSS' views

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue May 18 18:15:57 CDT 2010

> > I am still unable to understand why we should not interpret that 
> varishTha is the one who has the ultimate absolute brahma jnAna and he is 
> the 'best' among other brahma vida-s...My reasoning is very simple that 

But what you stated was that the "other brahma-vits" were saguNa brahma-
vidaH only, on the path of krama mukti, not nirguNa brahma-vidaH. This is
what I describe as an over-interpretation of the bhAshya according to one's
own predilections. 


> shankara does not talk about jnAna tAratamya (that you also agreed)in 
> mundaka shruti and there is no mention of gradations in absolute brahma 
> jnAni-s to infer that brahmavit & vidvara are also same type of brahma 
> jnAni-s but inferior to varishTa. IMO, shankara talks about 'bedha' in 
> parOksha & aparOkha jnAna & that one who has aprOksha jnAna is the best / 
> varishTa when compared to parOksha jnAna nishTa-s. 

The real issue is this. Even the greatest ajnAnI always begins every single 
cognition with first cognizing his or her own AtmA and this AtmA is brahman.
This is well-known to you from brahmasUtra bhAshya. Thus, even for the
person at the very bottom of the avidyA barrel, so to speak, in reality,
brahman is always aparoksha! 

Along comes Sruti, imparted by the AcArya, and gives you this pramANa
based jnAna. You keep referring to "mere intellectual understanding",
implicitly distinguishing it from aparoksha-anubhava. Is this intellectual
understanding generated by the pramANa of SAstra or is it generated
independently? It is clearly the former, right? What prevents everyone
who has SravaNa from going past the stage of intellectual understanding
instantly? You never make it clear what you think (or have been taught)
to be the process (or the quantum leap if you will) from intellectual
understanding to the anubhava.

As long as there is SAstra-janita brahmajnAna, there is a pramAtA with a
mind and an intellect in which this pramANa based knowledge has arisen.
Is the SAstra-janita pramA-jnAna paroksha or aparoksha? If the former,
at least initially, how does it get converted to the latter?


It seems to me that you assume that once the aparoksha-anubhava arises,
it magically erases the mind in one shot and that there is no residual mind
to raise doubts or cause unsteadiness of AtmadarSana. I see no explicit
statement or even remote implication to that effect in the bhAshya-s.
On the contrary, he explicitly says that the steady recollection of Atma-
vijnAna is itself a sAdhana that ends in citta-vRtti-nirodha. Unless there
is a citta in which this smRti takes place, there is no point in even talking
of the nirodha of its vRttis post-jnAna. And there is no reason for him to
then talk of additional tyAga-vairAgyAdi sAdhana along with this smRti in
the same passage. Whether it is due to a wish to avoid even a gandha-
mAtra of yoga or due to some other reason, I know your school of thought
is going to say, "but wait, this is only abhyupamana, not mUla siddhAnta."
My counter-question to that is, "does Sankara bhagavatpAda ever go back
and renounce this abhyupagamana?" There are ever so many places in the
bhAshya-s where in the course of showing the untenability of an opponent's
position, he uses the word abhyupagamana or its variants in the sense of
"let me assume you are right," only to go on to prove a logical contradiction
or undesirable conclusion soon after. That is always marked by words such
as "iti cet" or "syAt" and soon countered by showing a "prasanga" using the
words "iti prasangAt". In these cases, the tentative abhyupagamana is clearly
given up and it is merely an old technique of a reductio ad absurdum kind of
argument. In the case of the bRhadAraNyaka bhAshya 1.4.7, where the
steady recollection of Atma-vijnAna is accepted (abhyupagata) as leading
to citta vRtti nirodha, pray where is the succeeding argument where this
position is then given up?

Once you see the real purport of this, all other issues fall in place. In the
coming weeks, I will have very little time to continue on this thread, so I
will leave it here with just two comments. One, there are many pointers to
and answers about jnAna-nishThA and jnAna-pravrtti in the gItAbhAshya,
of course in the 2nd chapter, in the verses on sthitaprajna-lakshaNa and
again in the 18th chapter, on verses 48 onwards. Two, if you cannot see
how one can infer -vara and -varIyas as gradations that lead to -varishTha,
I say that this follows from grammar and language usage in a straightforward
manner. It is accepted by all that these words are used only from an external
standpoint. In any case, how is the aparoksha brahma-jnAnI supposed to
spend his last breathing moment in this embodied form in any other way
than in what is called nirvikalpa samAdhi? The physically embodied senses
and the mind do not go seeking sense-object-enjoyment - that is the natural
state of the highest jnAnI, is it not? But is there any rule that says that the
last breathing moment of such a body should NOT be in such samAdhi, or any
rule that limits the time that a physical body can last in such samAdhi? As for
non-availability of such a jnAnI to others, perhaps that may be so, but ours
is a tradition that accepts silence (mauna-vyAkhyA) as one of the greatest
possible teachings on brahman. If the prArabdha of a Sishya is such that he
or she gets even a small benefit by the mere sight of a brahmavid-varishTha,
then surely, there is somehow an availability at least to one other person!

alam anena. namo brahmavid-varishThebhyaH,

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