[Advaita-l] THE SCRIPTURAL TEACHING OF MAYAVADA AND BRAHMAVADA
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Nov 13 01:06:32 CST 2010
This is to inform that a three part article on the above topic is being
published by the newly launched 'Advaita Academy'.
Here are some excerpts:
// All through the scriptural literature one comes across two distinct
streams of teachings: one pertaining to the world and the other pertaining
to the Truth. Sometimes these two come in one mode mingled, yet
distinguishable. Sometimes they take separate forms and are clearly
distinguishable. We can call these two streams of teachings as 'mAyAvAda'
and 'brahmavAda'. The purpose of delineation of the mAyAvAda in the
scripture is only an adhyAropa, a superimpostion.
Since brahmavAda is extremely difficult to comprehend, the scripture adopts
the adhyAropa-apavAda technique to posit the mAyA, in other words, the
world, as an effect, creation, of brahman. With this platform, it becomes an
easy task for the scripture to teach brahman with the 'attribute' of the
creator/cause of the universe. Once the aspirant is prepared enough to
receive the core teaching about brahman, the scripture shows brahman as
totally free of any attribute (of creator/cause of the world) by negating
the entire universe which was posited.
By this apavAda, negation, the nirguNa (attributeless) brahman is made
possible to be apprehended by the aspirant. The gaining of this realization
marks the attainment of freedom from samsara. This is what mokSha is.
In the sequel is presented samples from the upaniShads, the *BhagavadgIta*,
the *brahmasUtra* and the *mahAbhArata* to depict these two distinct
streams. The purpose of this delineation is to enable the student of vedAnta
to appreciate these two streams with greater clarity.
1. In the *ShvetAshvataropaniShad* we have this famous mantra:
मायां तु प्रकृतिं विद्यान्मायिनं तु महेश्वरम् (4.10)
mAyAm tu prakRRitim vidyAn mAyinam tu maheshvaram
[Know mAyA as the prakRRiti and the wielder of mAyA as the maheshvara, the
Here the word prakRRiti denotes the world. This is the cause of the manifest
world. The Lord says in the *BhagavadgIta* (9.10): 'With Me as the overseer,
prakRRiti brings forth the world of the moving and the unmoving.' The world
includes animate and inanimate beings. All the bodies of living beings
belong to the prakRRiti, being products thereof. prakRRiti is the inanimate
principle that is the material that goes into the making of the universe.
The upaniShad teaches that this prakRRiti is the mAyA. This is the way the
upaniShad says this world is mAyA. This is the mAyAvAda of this upaniShad.
Contrasted with this is the teaching found in this very passage: 'The Lord
of mAyA is maheshvara. brahman in association with mAyA becomes the Creator,
Cause, of the universe. brahman is the Consciousness Principle which is
indispensible for the creation and administration of the universe.' This is
the brahmavAda teaching of this upanishad.
3. The *KenopaniShat* (1.2) reads:
श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रं मनसो मनो यद्वाचो ह वाचं ...चक्षुषः चक्षुः
shrotrasya shrotram manaso mano yadvAcho ha vaacham…cakShuShaH chakShuH
[It is the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind, the Speech of speech, the
Life of life and the Eye of the eye. Having detached the Self from the
sense-organs and renounced the world, the Wise attain to Immortality.]
Here, the 'Ear' is the brahmavAda teaching and the 'ear' is the mAyAvAda
teaching. We can see that both the streams are mingled in one mantra itself.
We have another important mantra here:
अन्यदेव तद्वितादथो अविदितादधि...(1.4)
anyadeva tad viditAdatho aviditAdadhi
[It is different from the known; It is above the unknown.]
Here the 'known' is the manifest world and the 'unknown' refers to the
unmanifest seed state of the manifest world. Both these come under the
mAyAvAda. The words 'anyat and tat' of this mantra denotes the brahmavAda.
brahman is different from both the known world and the unknown causal state
of the world. brahman is shown here as distinct, vilakShaNa, from mAyA, the
The complete First part can be read at the URL below: (The remaining parts
will be published soon and will be intimated)
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list